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Friday, October 01, 2010

Cyber Bullying

In today's news:
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private.

Cruel gossip and vengeful acts once confined to the schoolyard or the dorm can now make their way around the world instantly via the Internet, along with photos and live video.

"It's just a matter of when the next suicide's going to hit, when the next attack's going to hit," said Parry Aftab, a New Jersey lawyer who runs the website WiredSafety.

Last week, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate and another classmate allegedly used a webcam to secretly broadcast his dorm room sexual encounters with another man. The two classmates have been charged with invasion of privacy, with the most serious charges carrying up to five years in prison.

The suicide of Clementi, a shy, gifted 18-year-old violinist, shocked and disturbed gay rights activists and others on campus.

"Had he been in bed with a woman, this would not have happened," said Rutgers student Lauren Felton, 21, of Warren, N.J. "He wouldn't have been outed via an online broadcast, and his privacy would have been respected and he might still have his life."

The Associated Press found at least 12 cases in the U.S. since 2003 in which children and young adults between 11 and 18 killed themselves after falling victim to some form of "cyberbullying" — teasing, harassing or intimidating with pictures or words distributed online or via text message....

....Aftab said young people who would never bully someone face to face do it online in part because of the often-false sense of anonymity that the Internet provides.

"They'll also jump on because they don't want to be the next target," Aftab said. [Read more]
This is simply tragic and senseless. We are not helpless. There are many programs and educational websites to help us learn about bullying and work together to stop it. Search anti-bullying for a number of links.

Anyone had any luck leading a youth or college class on this topic?
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