Tough at a Distance - Virtual Bullies
This is not about the bad-guys you have to whack on your PlayStation. These are real people. The ones who want to reach you with intimidating and harassing remarks via a digital connection. They text you on your mobile and they find you on Facebook – these faceless bullies have new and accessible ways to spread slander about people they don’t like.
We can all agree that harassing is a cowardly and pitiful way of behaving; the bullies often need to compensate for their own shortcomings. But now this sneaky practice has become even more cowardly and insidious, since they can reach you anywhere at any time, hidden behind their computer screen or anonymously from their mobile phone.
Two out of three children have experienced this kind of mobbing, according to a study made by Telenor in 2008. At school, the children may be isolated and verbally bullied, and when they come home the harassment continues on the net or via texting. There simply is no free-zone any longer. It is also a fact that the threshold for joining in has become lower, as you can do it anonymously.
Twice as many girls report digital mobbing as boys. The Norwegian site “slettmeg.no” reports that 40 per cent of the 508 enquiries in June, July and August 2010 were about Facebook. In many cases the offended person needs help to delete some unflattering picture that has been taken by somebody else and published on the net.
The new ways of communicating have given us new challenges if we want to stop bullying. In general, it is not illegal to publish texts or pictures on the net, but it is against the law to insult another person in public, which is much the same thing as mobbing on Facebook. The trouble is that this kind of illegality is difficult to track down, let alone press charges.
Is it possible to put a stop to this? It ought to be, and at the end of the day it may come down to one simple question: How should we treat one another? It clearly takes lack of empathy to harass someone, so it may in fact be a question of values and attitudes and basic guidelines for good behaviour.
- Have you or do you know somebody who has experienced digital bullying?
- Why are girls more exposed to this kind of bullying than boys?
- Is it true that bullies often need to compensate for their own shortcomings?
- In what way can we say that the two articles (link one and two) seem to contradict one another?
- Watch the video (last link) and read the comments further down the page. Do you agree with these commentators?
- What measures do you think need to be taken to stop (digital) bullying?