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A study done by Pew Research Center from 2007-2010 stated that 95% of all teens use the internet and 80% of them use social networking sites (www. Edgewave. com). One in three teens is cyber-bullied (The Guardian, Tues, Aug 6, 2013). One in 13 teens face persistence abuse online (The Guardian. ). Cyber-bullies do not see the harm they cause or the consequences of their actions which minimizes any feelings of remorse. This gives the kids more advantage to say crude and hurtful things they would not do in person.
Cyber-bullying is devastating when nasty things are verbalized, but when someone sends pictures of one that is not meant for the world to see this type of damage is more detrimental than the nastiness of words. The betrayal one must feel to know someone close to them would hurt them by exposing such material. The aftermath, for that experience is destructive for one’s self-image and self-esteem. When a teen is subjected to such negativity, it may push them over the edge.
The damage cyber-bullying causes can be deep and long lasting.
The damage that cyber-bullying can cause is low self-esteem, withdrawal, poor grades, school absences, self- harm, depression, risks for addictive behaviors such as drinking and using drugs and in the worst cases one take their own life, because they can no longer take the never ending pain that is being caused by the bullying. Cyber-bullying has been the final cause in the teens mentioned in this report as to why they committed suicide. Although, this was not the only underlining factor, many of these teens suffered from depression and other mental illnesses (WebMD, 2007).
I have found several articles about teen suicides that were connected to cyber-bullying. The first such case of teen suicide connected to cyber-bullying was reported on October 7, 2003 in Essex Jct. , Vermont. Ryan Halligan was a 13 year old and he was bullied for numerous years. His parents thought the bullying was done and over with until his suicide. His father went into his computer and found that Ryan was being severely harassed. The person who bullied him years before, but became friends with later bullied Ryan. His parent has warned Ryan not to trust this person, because he betrayed him before.
Ryan told his friend stories and eventually his friend turned on him unknowingly to Ryan and he was being bullied over social media sites and at school. Ryan’s father was not aware of this until after Ryan’s death and he was trying to make sense of why he son took his own life. He soon figured it out. Ryan’s parents were devastated. John Halligan has been totally dedicated in honoring the memory of his son. As well as to raise awareness on the issues, that led to Ryan’s death. John spearheaded the Vermont’s Bully Prevention bill that was signed into law (ACT 117) in May 2004 just a few months after Ryan’s death (RyanPatrickHalligan.
Mr. Halligan has also successfully led the passage of the law pertaining to mandatory suicide prevention education in public schools (ACT 114) signed in April 2006 (RyanPatrickHalligan. Org). John Halligan has been recognized with five award for his outstanding community service, hard work and outreach he has done in his sons memory and his dedication to educate others on these issues (RyanPatrickHalligan. Org). Prior to their suicides, some of these teens did cry out for help by posting heartbreaking videos and updates on their sites.
The examples I would like to use to support this statement are as follows: “My Story: struggling, bullying, suicide, and self-harm’ Amanda’s YouTube Video. Watching this video of Amanda was heartbreaking. To see any children go through that kind of pain and they feel they have nowhere to turn just breaks my heart. I have a teenage daughter who has been bullied in every way imaginable. I know what problems being bullied and harassed can create. She cried out for help with the Facebook posts, the flashcards, cutting and other behaviors.
As I stated earlier, cyber-bullying is not the only problem that causes one to commit suicide there are other factors involved. I can relate to an extent with the parents who have lost their children to suicide. My daughter has attempted suicide and almost succeeded. It has been the worst experience to go through. She has refused all the help that was always there for her until the last attempt where she has been placed in a residential facility that I feel has saved my daughter’s life. Tyler Clementi was a quiet 18-year-old talented violinist. He started his first year at Rutgers University in 2010.
Tyler “came out of the closet” with his family before leaving for college his brother James said in a statement where he discussed what a wonder person Tyler was, the suicide of his brother, what life is like without him and the close bond they shared growing up and that they both are “gay”. (James Clementi, www. queerty. com). Tyler discovered his roommate used his webcam to stream intimate moments with his boyfriend over the internet (New York Times, March 16, 2012). Tyler sent and e-mail requesting a single room, because of the webcam spying issue on September 21, 2010 about 4 a.m. (New York Times, March 16, 2012).
Dharun Ravi whom was the roommate of Tyler apparently searched the internet prior to starting Rutgers and discovered Tyler’s sexuality. Dharum was not pleased to have a “gay” roommate and sent several texts to friend about keeping gays out (New York Times, March 16, 2012). Tyler asked his roommate for some privacy one evening to spend time with his companion. This second attempt to use his webcam to mainstream activity between Tyler and his companion was halted, because Tyler found the camera pointed at his bed (New York Times, March 16, 2012).
Dharum tweeted “that he seen his roommate making out with a dude” and invited others via text to watch the live stream action (New York Times, March 16, 2012). From all the information, I have read on this case the final message from Tyler that was discovered after his death in a gay chat room was how to deal with the invasion of his privacy in such intimate moments and facing the people who were ignorant enough to watch it. I am going to assume that he felt he would have been bullied and harassed constantly, because of the webcam video. On September 22, 2010 at 8:42 P. M.
Tyler Clementi posted on Facebook “Jumping off the GW bridge, sorry”. Tyler’s body was not recovered, but the police did pull an unidentified male body from the Hudson River north of the river where he jumped. Tyler’s wallet with his freshman identification was at the scene (ABC News, Sept 29, 2010). Dharum Ravi was charged with several charged and served a jail sentence. The other person involve exchange her testimony for reduced charges (New York Times, March 16, 2012). A huge problem with cyber-bullying is that is can be done with complete anonymity. Teenage years are tough enough to experience.
When a teenager is being cyber-bullied and humiliated in front of the millions of people, it is like having a brown bag over your head in the social media world many can take a jabs instantaneously. When they feel like “everyone” is against them their self-esteem is non-existent and they slowly fall into a depressive type state. Not knowing who is saying or doing the harsh content makes it worse and makes it easier for the teenager to withdrawal. With the research I have done for this project, the experiences I have experienced as a parent and help from my teenagers, I have found many social networking sites that allow anonymity postings.
A few examples of these social networking sites are www. pencourage. com, www. youmitter. com , Tumblr. com and formspring. me. The one that I found the most information on was the social networking site Ask. fm. All of these sites mentioned are question and answer social networking sites that allow anonymous participation. Ask. fm has been in the national headlines involving several teenage suicides. Ask. fm has 30 million participators who minors (Huffington Post, August 30, 2013).
With the research I have done on Ask.fm, I came across the story of Hannah Smith a beautiful, 14 year old who committed suicide due to being subjected to cruel taunts and insults on Ask. fm (The Huffington Post, Aug 30, 2013). David Smith, Hannah’s father stated in the Huffington Post on August 30, 2013, “These sick people are just able to go online and hide behind a mask of anonymity while they abuse vulnerable teenagers… When they’re sitting behind a computer screen you can say whatever you want and there no comebacks, but these trolls need to realize that they are affecting people’s lives in the most horrific way imaginable” (Huffington Post, Aug 30, 2013).
In my opinion, Mr. Smith stated this perfect. I have wondered if any of the people involved in the cyber-bullying that finally pushed Hannah and other teens over the edge to end their lives if they have a conscience. I wonder if they are able to sleep at night knowing they are some of the reason another person ending their life. Interesting, with more investigating for this report I found on a website called www. cyberbullyingresearchcenter. us .
The information that is in investigation on the case with Ask.fm and the cyber-bullying case of Hannah Smith has been founded that 98% of the messages sent to Hannah were from the same IP address as Hannah was using which indicates she was sending the hateful, threatening messages to herself (www. cyberbullyingresearchcenter. org). IP is short for Internet Protocol Address. IP addresses are assigned to every computer on an Ethernet Network (www. dummies. com). The IP address is similar to your home address. No two computers can have the same IP address on the same network (www. dummies.com).
Ask. fm has identified four messages that were sent to Hannah from different IP addresses and has agreed to turn the information over to the police (The Telegraph August 11, 2013). There is no guaranteed proved that Hannah sent these messages to herself. There are other possibilities of how the messages were sent from the same IP address such as Wi-Fi connection or a school network. Mr. Smith does not deny Hannah may have sent herself some of these messages, but feels Ask. fm are trying to cover their butts. Mr.
Smith has the name of one of the trolls that was harassing his daughter and the authorities do not seem interested in the information. In my opinion, there is much more to this suicide story than we the public will ever know about. Due to the recent suicides that involved Ask. fm on August 19, 2013 the social networking website agreed to make some changes (www. heavy. com). Ask. fm has implicated a report bullying or harassment button that would compel the website to investigate reported comments (www. heavy. com).
This feature is expected to go live in September 2013. Ask.fm stated “they wanted their users to be able to have fun, share information and make friends freely… they want their younger users to be able to do this in a safe environment” (www. heavy. com) Finally, the teen suicide rate has increased over the last 15 years (WebMD 2007). In my opinion, this has a lot to do with the advanced technology that teens have constant access to today. The ole bullying has transpired into a more severe problem called cyber-bullying. This is done through social networks, instant messages, e-mails and text messages. Electronic bullying is instant.
Bullying is no longer the traditional note passing in the halls at schools. Bullying and cyber-bullying does not stop at the end of the school day as it did prior to the internet and other advanced technology we have today. Cyber-bullying triples suicide risks in teens (Sherry Boschert, Pediatric News. Digital Network). Girls are often the target of being cyber-bullied than boys. Usually by a 9% difference in studies, I came across. Being victimized by a bully can happen at any given time of the day, by anybody and regardless of what stance in authority they may hold.
I was completely shocked to have come across the Andrew Cain story. Andrew Cain was a 19 year old from Pullman, Washington, whom had a criminal history since he was a minor. Most recently, Andrew failed to appear for a court hearing for charges he received in March 2013 for a probation violation (Huffington Post, June 27, 2013). Not appearing for the court hearing, warrants were issued for his arrest. The deputy posted on the Sheriff’s Facebook page that included a wanted poster and this statement “We have decided that Andrew Cain is no longer the wanted person of the week.
He is the wanted person of the month of June Congratulations! ” (www. heavy. com). Andrew had received texts, Facebook messages, e-mails and instant messages about this post on the Sheriff’s Facebook page about what a horrible person he was. It was not long until bogus rumors started about the charges Andrew had. According to his sister, Alise Smith she received a text from Andrew about how this has bothered him and feels that it was just too much for him to handle. Andrew Cain was in the process of turning his life around.
Unfortunately, due to heartless people we will never see how Andrew Cain’s life could have turned out. On June 13, 2013, Andrew Cain committed suicide. Indeed, while I do feel the advanced technology we have today are very beneficial in many aspects of everyone’s lives. I feel that the advanced technologies that we have become accustomed to should be used with responsibility and integrity. Cyber-bullying in a nutshell is a deadly game to play. Cyber-bullies do not see what harm it causes their victim by harassing them via social media sites unless something drastic happens to their victim due to them being bullied.
I really would like to ask some of the teens that have been charged in connection to these suicides if they are able to sleep at night. How the teens involved are going to feel knowing they have been a reason, why another human being took their life? They may not think about it now, because they were able to be that cruel to someone, but what about when they are older and realize what their actions caused? I would like to ask the parents of the cyber-bullies who have been charged in the suicide cases if “they” had any issues growing up or any un-resolved issues that would cause them to be so hateful to another human being.
What is your opinion? I am hopeful one day that the internet world will become a safe place for all children to enjoy. Where a child can go for fun and not become depressed to the point they want to take their own life, because they have no idea how to handle all the pain and pressure of being bullied and being a teenager. I do feel so much sadness in my heart with all the young lives lost to the cruel, senseless act of other humans.
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