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Cyberbullying and Teens

“Being bullied besides over the internet is worse. It’s torment and hurts. They say “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. ” That quote is a lie and I don’t believe in it. Sticks and stones may cause nasty cuts and scars, but those cuts and scars will heal. Insultive words hurt and sometimes take forever to heal. “14 year-old girl from New Jersey (Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J. W. “Cyberbullying research. ”  www. cyberbullying. us. Accessed, April 6, 2009)  Along with the advent of technology comes the evolution of new societal morals and consequences.

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Before the invention of the Worldwide Web, one had the ability to obtain privacy simply by turning off a cell phone, turning off a television, radio, and the volume of their telephone down. Now, at the turn of 21st Century; we have not only a lack of utter privacy, but entirely new ways of invasion. According to Judith Boss, “Cultural Relativism is the metaethical theory that moral standards and values are created by groups of people… and that morality is nothing more than socially approved customs. (Boss, Ethics for Life. 2008) Boss furthermore concludes that this theory of Cultural Relativism can be used to exclude a certain group or groups of people based on perceived moral standards or values (Boss, 2008). This theory can easily be applied to the world of Cyberbullying and its affect on the tween and teen set. Over 33% of all youth in the United States feel that they have been a victim of Cyberbullying (Chait, Lovetoknow. org. 2009).

One could presume this rate to in fact be much higher as Cyberbullying can be through any means of “anonymous” communication such as in a chat room, Instant message, or even text message via cell phone. Thus, many youths may not report these “online” crimes in their offline lives. The consequences of the Cyberbullying can be as severe as to lead to depression, skipping school, substance abuse, and at its most extreme, suicide. Offenders of these crimes in the school-age set tend to be mostly between 7th and 8th graders who state that they offend without recognizing the serious consequences of their actions.

Posting a picture, video, or blog; texting an angry message or sending an email is viable ways of communication for today’s youth who are plugged in to technology. Some even view their actions as positive, stating that because it is done anonymously they are actually “strengthening their victim. ” (Cyberbullying. us. 2009). Now, with the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, students are at a greater risk for being bullied as they have little to no control over what is posted about them.

Beyond immediate consequences such as being laughed at or made fun of in school and continuous bullying, these students are at a disadvantage when applying to colleges and/or jobs as Employers and Admission Committees tend to look at Social Networking sites to get a more well-rounded idea of the student. Unfortunately, children have very little if any concept about how pictures, words, or hurtful statements can never be taken back once on the Internet and along with being detrimental in the present, these attacks can have a lasting effect on the child being bullied.

Indeed, one only need look at recent stories in the news such as that of Jessie Logan, a teenager who killed herself due to “Sexting. ” Sexting, the act of sending sexual messages through a cell phone is relatively new and frequently used as a means to torment girls or peer pressure them into sexual behavior. In the Logan Case, the student had sent a controversial picture of herself, over a cell phone, to her boyfriend; the picture was then “broadcast” sent to numerous other people, via email and cell phone. As a result of this picture, Ms.

Logan received innumerable “sext” messages tormenting and torturing her to the point where she committed suicide. Unfortunately, as is mostly the case these days, her parents were unaware of the severity of the problem until it was too late resulting in the death of their only child. In another example, Abraham Briggs, a 19yr old from Florida, not only stated his intent to kill himself, detailed his plan and left a note online, he took the overdose while streaming live online with many members of an online community watching.

According to reports, community members were egging Mr. Briggs on apparently not recognizing the seriousness of his actions nor intent. Furthermore, it took over an hour as Mr. Briggs lay dying in front of his webcam, before any online community member acted; calling local police who arrived to find the young man had died of an overdose. The website on which the suicide was broadcast defended themselves stating that the site could not be held responsible as it is impossible to monitor every item streaming in and out of their website.

An excuse, unfortunately, most websites use in these situations. Are the two case previously highlighted extreme examples of Cultural Relativity or a sign of reality for youth today? As the theory implies, people tend to behave more immorally when in groups then when alone and are able to exclude others with their group behavior. Certainly, these are prime examples of exclusion and immoral behavior. Unlike children growing up in earlier generations, children today are unable to comprehend a world without “a screen. Because of technology, these children have no concept of how their words, their actions, and even their privacy is not their own. Unable to close the door to their rooms and lock their dreams away in diaries or journals, today’s children instead turn to the online world of blogging, posting, texting and emailing to communicate. Gone are the days of children playing outside together in the park, welcome to the world of online gaming and online communication. Even in school, these children are more likely to use a computer for school work than traditional paper and pencil.

Author Judith Boss implies that perhaps the theory of Cultural Relativity is not one that should be applied when attempting to solve the issues and crises facing our world today. Application of the theory in society can only cause negative results as moral standards, values, and mores are each up to the individual. Morals and values are inherent according to nurture and environment, not societal standards. Attempting to force society to adhere to “grouped” standards, as seen in the two cases, will fail.

It is evident to this writer based on research that the application of the Cultural Relativity and the negative consequences that naturally follow are already causing detrimental affects to our children with Cyberbullying. With little monitoring and awareness, the problem is growing at an alarming rate. Although a different venue then we may be used to, it can not be ignored that children are still being tormented, excluded, and made to feel inferior and scared of daily living by their peers.

In order to prevent a repeat of history, we as adults, must take this relatively new mode of communication between our youths seriously and without judgment. If not, lives like Mr. Briggs, will continue to be lost. References Boss, Judith. Ethics for Life. (2008). Chait, Jill. (2009). Retrieved 04/06/09 www. lovetoknow. org Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J. W. (2009) Cyberbullying research. Retrieved 04/06/09 www. cyberbullying. us. Statistics. Retrieved 04/06/09 www. cyberbullying. us

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