It Hurts Me Too

Cyberbullying.

I had never heard of it before yesterday. While I could guess at what it was thanks to the linguistic skills that a college degree should confer, the word was a new one. But in Boston, a pretty fifteen year old girl named Phoebe Prince apparently committed suicide due to cyberbullying.

The more I read yesterday, the more I learned. I read of an 11 year old boy who killed himself because he was taunted for being allegedly gay. I read of a 9 year old who hanged himself at school. I am just sick at this situation. It is a depressing thing to live in a world in which children, sweet, innocent children are driven to suicide by things on their computers.

Like Charlie Starkweather in Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, I end up being unable to account for the evil in our times, aside from a general meanness in this world.

And I remember when I was young.

I was bullied sometimes. One boy was so persistent that eventually my parents wormed it out of me, called the school, and involved them. Much to my own amazement, once the bully was confronted, he actually behaved himself from then on. That certainly seemed unlikely then and now. So I guess I was lucky. There were others, but never with that same scary intensity.

I also bullied sometimes. There are few things that I have done in my life that I would genuinely change, and that I really and truly regret. Bullying is one of them. I wish I could apologize to every person I ever taunted, persecuted or made uncomfortable.
When you’re 12 or 13 years old, calling each other names and insulting each other is just what boys do. Except when it isn’t. And those lines are often imperceptible to the persons doing the hurting. Until it’s too late, like it is for Phoebe Prince.

As a parent, there’s no easy way to say that this stuff scares the crap out of me. It scares me because I want to physically dismember anybody who says hurtful things about that little angel in my household. And it scares me because I don’t want her to be a tyrant to her own peers and contemporaries. Like I probably did a time or two.

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3 Responses to “It Hurts Me Too”

  1. barboo77 Says:

    Especially in the tween and early teen years, the kids are going through so much hormonally and they all feel completely insecure. So in order to make themselves feel better they try to make everyone else feel horrible. Now with boys, there is a certain amount of name-calling between friends as normal male interaction; usually where it turns into bullying is when the friend pack turns on one person inside or outside the group as a continual target.

    One of the biggest arguments against homeschooling is the concept of “socialization”, but most homeschoolers will tell you that socialization was a key reason they chose to homeschool. Children learn proper social skills by interacting with adults on a regular basis. But in schools they put 30 young children in a classroom with one teacher who is over-whelmed just trying to make sure they stay on course academically. She/he has very little time to interact with each kid, and they don’t see him/her interacting with other adults regularly. So, the children learn their social skills from each other…talk about the blind leading the blind.

    Bullying has become worse partly because children are learning their social skills from television and each other, and until someone gets physically hurt or interrupts teaching time most administrators dismiss a lot of the bad behavior as “kids being kids”. A lot of kids just don’t get a lot of adult interaction or a chance to observe adult interaction…especially in increasingly fractured homes. And a lot of parents don’t supervise what their child is doing on the internet because they have this misguided notion that children should have the same level of privacy as adults.

  2. eljoe1235 Says:

    Cyberbullying is a particularly interesting wrinkle. Unlike regular bullying, which both my wife the teacher and my sister the training teacher have me know is under much closer scrutiny, the cyberbullying issue pretty much stumps everyone.

    The rub is this. At my wife’s school, and presumably most others, social networking sites and other particularly troubling sites are blocked from the school’s computer. So what happens? It gets written at home. Check out topix.net, if you’d like an example. Go to “Russellville, KY” and in mere seconds, you can read opinions on who the biggest “hos” are in the school, and whether a certain girl is a “slut” or a certain boy is a “fag”.

    But what to do? Schools have virtually no freedom to restrict students’ out-of-school activities. For yet another for instance, consider this: Schools can, and readily do, often ban Confederate flag T-shirts. But schools absolutely cannot tell students that they cannot wear Confederate flag T-shirts at home. Similarly, if cyber-bullying takes place at school, then it is punishable. But if it takes place within the student’s home, it becomes difficult to impossible to act upon.

    Because of this, nobody is safe from this bullying. I’m sure it’s most common in kids who know each other from school, but it could just as easily be from church or youth sports leagues, or whatever. The only real insulation against possible cyber-bullying if for kids to simply not know anybody.

  3. tryintolivehere Says:

    The answer to cyberbullying is simple: criminalize it! Yes, yes, there are freedome of speech concerns. However, if I am walking down the street, in SC, and someone calls me a fag, I can call the police and have that person arrested for aggrevated harrassment. They go to jail and have to deal the going through the judicial system. It may not be much, but it does land on their record and causes them a great deal of difficulty and money.

    Everytime someone commits cyberbullying they should be prosecuted and, in my humble opinion, have their access to social meda sites revoked. It is the only clear way to put an end to this sort of criminal behavior. If you disagree, I simply ask you to put your child’s face, or the face of a loved one on a picture of Phoebe Prince and ask yourself whether or not you would like this to happen to them. It very well could.

    My blog on Phoebe prince is at http://www.tryintolivehere.wordpress.com

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