'Sticks and Stones May Break Some Bones But Online Comments Can Be Killers' by Tracey Jackson
The online mean comment culture has taken on a life of it’s own and in several tragic situations it has resulted in people ending their own lives.
What started off as supposedly sharing points of views and thoughts on various topics has now far too often turned into a culture of online verbal abuse that I find shocking and scary.
It’s one thing to share ideas and stick with the topic at hand; it is entirely different, however, to behave like the bully on a playground and use your keyboard as a slingshot. Or what I find just as bad, using other’s blogs and Facebook pages to play out personal dramas and vendettas.
Bloggers, writers and all public personalities know they are putting themselves out there and most know to turn the other cheek, let it wash over them or as one writer says “Don’t Feed The Trolls. “
But kids are a different story. Kids can be cruel: some always have been and my guess is always will be. But what we are seeing now are adults being just as cruel as they were as kids. They are being cruel to each other, to people they know and people they don’t know. Hiding behind the shroud of anonymity people have turned into a gang of rageing teenagers incapable of editing their feelings and comments, often armed with misinformation and only the scrim of their own self-interest or insecurities to guide them.
Without question it is a far worse situation for kids than it is for adults, though many adults have responded violently to mean online comments. One woman even drove four hundred miles armed and with the intent of killing her online bully before the cops stopped her. But the rise in teen suicides as a result of bullying, specifically online bullying is what concerns me most. Some stats,
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
• Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
• A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
• 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
• According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.
One might say it’s just kids being kids, but it’s not. In one of the more high profile suicide cases the perpetrator was an adult preying on a teen.
And if the teens who are doing the bullying need guidance, it doesn’t help that they find their parents often times pounding away insults on various sites and message boards.
How can parents help their kids break out of this destructive behavior when they are spending hours at the keyboard doing a version of the same thing? And if you really want to see mean comments go to some of the mommy blogs, those women rip each other up, other parents up, schools, you name it. So how are these kids going to behave in a world where so much interaction of all types exists online, when the adults are behaving worse than the kids?
We all thought that most people grew out of their childhood meanness or if not they at least they society forced them to edit their behavior and contain their rage.
Along with all the great things the net has brought us it has shown us that these tendencies were merely lying dormant or manifesting in other ways, now the bullies are out in full force and this time not only beating up on the little guy but having at each other as well.
I can’t really see a solution as who will do the policing? Part of being a grown up is hopefully learning right from wrong and tempering your every impulse and regulating others, and a big part of being a good parent is setting a good example. Since Facebook and parts of the Internet appear to have turned the world into high school, I guess we have to wait for some to graduate, grow up and set some standards. Let’s just hope we don’t lose any more kids in the meantime.
Screenwriter/Director/and Author Tracey Jackson's new book:
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HOT PLACE-Why Fifty Is Not The New Thirty
is available now:http://tinyurl.com/42swzgu
Join me at: www.traceyjacksononline.com
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