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View Full Version : Cyber bullying: whose fault? Is it new or just a technological update?


Binoculars
7th May 2009, 16:50
It has been my experience that the thickest teenagers are males, but there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that the female of the species can be way more vicious. This link is by no means an extreme example of what happens to adolescent girls, rather fairly typical, and some would say especially at expensive private schools. I look forward to others' comments.

Elite school's horrific cyber-bullying case - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/05/07/2563942.htm)

airship
7th May 2009, 23:24
I'll have a go....

My earliest experience of a cyber-bully (if that's the correct term) probably dates back to about 1996 or thereabouts, in one of the then unmoderated usenet groups concerning cats. An extremely obnoxious individual (an American - no surprise there, most of the contributors were Americans back then) took enormous pleasure (some might even call it bordering on the juvenile) in regularly lambasting and ridiculing everyone. Sort of what used to go on in JB before 'the heavy moderation' was applied...?! But back in those innocent days, it was far easier to identify 'the real person behind all the anonymous posts', partly because it was on usenet and also because the relatively rudimentary search engines of the day were still quite capable of dredging up posts by idiots who kept the same 'handle' in other forums / groups where they behaved relatively decently. I'm not exactly proud about it, but after spending about a day 'on and off' trying to finger said individual, I managed to do so with 99% certainty. That is to say, I posted his real name, street address, city and ZIP code, marital status, details of the other usenet groups to which he regularly contributed (with examples of posts - it was the repeated use of certain phrases in posts that identified him categorically as being the same person, I like to think), in the original cat forum for all to see. Said 'offender' never showed his face again in that group for as long as I continued to frequent it. Of course, I can't guarantee that some other suitably-armed American cat-lover frequenting the same group might have simply 'offed him'...:eek::ok:

Bullying is nothing new and has never depended on 'technology'. However, the act itself requires a certain amount of publicity and recognition, which in the modern day, somewhat conflicts with the anonymity offered (by modern technology)...?

In forums like we have today (and this one specifically), whilst for example the entity 'airship' may indeed be relatively anonymous (apart from very rare indiscretions relating to age, alcohol consumption, background, parentage, schooling, income, alcohol consumption, job description, geographical location, alcohol consumption etc.), the owner of this site knowz exactly who I am (especially since I once paid for a personal title) or would have little difficulty in rapidly identyfing me should the need arise. Not forgetting that it's now become a legal obligation for ISPs to keep certain records for a considerable period of time in some countries.

Which finally draws me back to the original subject of adolescent girls at expensive private schools. Whilst the synapses go into overdrive trying to imagine all possible scenarios and angles (the school uniforms, pleated skirts etc. don't help BTW), I'm left with the thought that it's all merely a storm in a tea cup. If you use modern technology to 'apparently anonymously' bully or defame anyone, you will eventually (and rapidly) be found out. And you're not really a bully in the traditional sense, because you're hiding behind an anonymity which will sooner or later be revealed. Compared to traditional school-yard bullies, the modern kind obviously are even less brave - they don't even attempt to stand up to any confrontation...?!

I think I'll go to bed now. Dreaming of an age before computers and everything. When the only serious transgressions ever committed by adolescent girls at expensive private schools was attending wild late-night parties at the neighbouring exclusive and expensive boys' private school...?! :p

Sorry if that's not quite what you expected (it's from a northern hemisphere perspective) if you see what I mean... ;)

ZEEBEE
8th May 2009, 00:10
While I don't doubt that it's a real problem to those who are victimised by these attacks, when you ACTUALLY stop and look at what's really happening,,,It's analogous to the Aboriginal rite of pointing the bone.

ie it works because people believe it, but has very little intrinsic threat in itself.

Unless the cyber bullying is converted to real physical action it's pretty ineffective if the recipient treats it lightly.

Standing by for some cyber bullying incoming:8

airship
8th May 2009, 00:30
ZEEBEE, I believe that what you're alluding to was once known as "sticks and stones may break me bones, but words won't do me any harm" or something very similar. Excuse me, I must be going to bed (to dream of adolescent girls at expensive private schools)... :rolleyes: (if I'm lucky) :ok: I think (has anyone been prosecuted for whatever happenned in a dream...)?! :uhoh: :zzz:

notmyC150v2
8th May 2009, 00:59
ZEEBEE, The physical abuse related bullying that you are referring to is certainly an issue for boys at school. It is less of an issue for girls. Girls have always used words, exclusion, rumours etc to bully their targets in addition to, in a small minority of cases, some physical abuse.

The electronic age is now just far more effective at that type of bullying. Adolescent girls are fanatically obsessed with their appearance and how others view them. Any threat to that external perception by others is a serious concern to them and effects them in exactly the same way as boys for the beatings that the boys get.

We just have to take whatever precautions we can to ensure we don't enable the behaviour. In the same way that you wouldn't send your son to school with brass knuckles, you need to monitor the phone, sms and internet usage of your girls (and boys but we are talking specifically about girls here).

Just my humble opinion.

ZEEBEE
8th May 2009, 02:15
Airship yes, kind of. For those not aware of our indiginous culture, the practice of pointing the bone was used to conduct a "ritual killing" whereby the recipient was doomed to go off and die.
Unfortunately, it wasn't just phsychological in that usally a few real bones were broken as well just to make sure.
Nevertheless in its idealised form it worked because the victim was convinced that they were terminal.

I don't think we've come a long way really.:(

And notmyC150v2 , having two adolescent girls in the household, I am aware of the overpowering slavishness to image etc :suspect:
but I take heart in that they grow out of that in forty or fifty years time. :uhoh:

So I guess they are easily affected by any sleight towards their fashion sense. In turn, they also know how to dish it out.
I guess I was too busy mucking around with model aircraft and electronics to have noticed it in my day.

assasin8
8th May 2009, 03:45
New technology, same problem... bad role models in parents, friends and the biggy, media!:cool:

Worrals in the wilds
8th May 2009, 08:52
I went to an exclusive (in their own minds) all girls school and it was pure misery. The type of innuendo and slander has not changed (sexual activity, weight, ugliness, popularity et al) but to have it on the internet for all to see must be horrendous.

A decade or so has passed but I am still shaking from the memories of how that abuse used to feel, and it is probably long forgotten by everyone else who heard it. To have that type of thing saved in perpetuity on the internet, to have everyone in town read it and forward it must be a very hard thing to deal with. I believe there have been a couple of girls suicide after this type of abuse (in the US from memory) and as an ex anxious teenager I am really not surprised.

I suspect that those of you advocating the 'sticks and stones' argument are male... because it simply isn't true for most young women. I would still rather be physically beaten than go through that verbal abuse again. At least in a physical fight one has the opportunity to defend oneself and to win.

Sure, 'it's all crap, just ignore it...' I hear you say, and as an adult I can accept that point of view, but perception is reality to the perceiver (Ekman, from memory) and to be unpopular is a fate worse than death (literally, for the aforementioned victims) for many girls.

I still hate popular, skinny teenage girls on principle.

Apologies, probably all a bit D&M for jetblast! Off to laugh at the Russian bear stories :)

Binoculars
8th May 2009, 14:47
Exactly what I was expecting to hear when I started the thread, Worrals.

It's impossible for people with no experience of this sort of thing, either actively or passively, to imagine the consequences. Suicides are not isolated occurrences, they are common.

Zeebee has a genuine go at understanding the problem but says Unless the cyber bullying is converted to real physical action it's pretty ineffective if the recipient treats it lightly.

I have bad news for you, Zeebee. I realise it's not a subject likely to get the hoi-polloi outraged when they can spend all their time complaining about the government of the day, but to some unfortunates it dominates their lives, making a normal life impossible. I've seen a lot of adolescent girls come and go in my daughters' lives, and the worst of them are horrific. The saddest part is their ability to carry on a double life so their parents continue thinking they are little angels.

I'm very glad it's almost over for me.

ZEEBEE
8th May 2009, 16:11
Well, I just had a good long chat to my 17 yr old daughter and she told me that I had no idea what I was talking about.

While this is not unusual, she did at least convince me that the bullying has been raised to a new low (how's that for a mixed metaphor) with the advent of technology.

She believes that the nastiness that's always been part of the scene that Worrals described, has in fact been amplified by the means to spread it more effectively.

So at this point I step back and accept that it IS a problem, but I suspect it's the same problem that's been with us an awful long time.

Kids can be pretty cruel sometimes.

Worrals in the wilds
8th May 2009, 17:21
Absolutely, Zeebee, I don't think it's a new thing as such, but like everything these days (good and bad) it's been magnified by the great leaps in communication and media.

It's good you talk to your daughter even if she says you know nothing (that's what teenagers are for;)) because I'm sure that one of the things that gets any child through bullying is a strong relationship with their folks.

I made it through largely thanks to my dear ol' Dad who had a consistent series of messages: who cares what a pack of cows think... there's nothing wrong with you... if your weight worries you come to the gym with me... and similar, sensible male advice. I probably shrieked 'you don't know anything, Dad!' a few times too, but he did (as do you) and enough of it went in (and I lost weight at the gym :}).

Binos, I think it's like anything, none of us really understand things we haven't been through. By your previous posts I feel that you've seen some of this in action. All the best to the Binettes!

visibility3miles
8th May 2009, 17:52
It's not so trivial when you drive someone to suicide, and your mother helps you just to find out if your daughter's friend is saying something mean about her. Yes, the girl didn't have to kill herself, but she did.

Cyberbully Mom Guilty Of Lesser Charge
Jury Rejects Felony Charges In Case Linked To 13-Year-Old Girl's Suicide

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 26, 2008

(CBS/AP) A Missouri mother on trial in a landmark cyberbullying case was convicted Wednesday of misdemeanor computer charges instead of felonies in a cruel Internet hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

The federal jury could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy charge against 49-year-old Lori Drew and rejected three other felony counts of accessing computers without authorization to inflict emotional harm on the girl...

Still Tina Meier, the mother of the young victim, says the verdict sends a message to other cyberbullies.

"My hope is that, if nothing else, that this story gets out to other people and people think about what they do before they get on the Internet and start harassing other people," Meier said. "That has been my hope from the beginning."...
Cyberbully Mom Guilty Of Lesser Charge - CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/26/national/main4635346.shtml)

Sadly, you're also far more likely to be harassed online if you have a "female" screen-name than a "male" or gender-neutral screen name.

lexxity
8th May 2009, 20:59
Let me tell you. Bullying is horiffic. It totally ruined my high school years. I wouldn't wish being a teenage Girl on anyone. Only when I went to sixth form did it stop. I was bullied for being "posh", "smelly" (because I grew up on a farm), left out of most everything and various other things because I was percieved to be "different". These things matter when you are a teenager and it was really, really hard. Once I had my wallet stolen on the bus and when I reported it I was the one who was accused of bringing all the bullying on myself because I stood upto the thief. Accused by the Headmaster.

One of my high school bullies moved in, two doors up, last year. I ignore her as best I can.

I can't imagine how awful it must be for anyone being bullied with the advent of the internet. At least I could go home and be away from it.