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The Severity of Cyberbullying and Why Schools Should Be Required to Take Action Amanda Feinberg Blue Group 4/15/13

Phoebe Prince, a 15 year old from South Hadley, Massachusetts had “everything going for her” and a promising future until her classmates bullied her to death ("Officials: Suicidal Teen Was Cyber-bullied”). Phoebe, along with 43% of teens in the last year, was a victim of intense cyberbullying ("Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts”). Cyberbullying is a prominent issue for teenagers in the United States and leads to teen suicides and emotional damage that affects victims for the rest of their lives. More widespread use of technology in the 21st Century, along with the psychological consequences of cyberbullying, and the impact of cyberbullying on the school environment justify why states should pass laws requiring schools to take action against cyberbullying in and outside of the classroom. The 21st century brought a wave of innovation of technologies that enable easier communication; however, the technology made it easier to bully as well. The technology allows the cyber bullies to remain anonymous and hide behind fake names, which only increases the level of hopelessness of the victims. ("Traditional Bullying and Cyberbullying: Are the Impacts on Self-Concept the Same"). The technology allows bullies to attack their victims without “guilt-inducing empathy” (“Cyberbullying Means Collapse of Moral Code”). Cyberbullying eliminates the bully’s ability to see the victim’s emotional reaction, so the bully often is crueler than they are face to face. Cyber bullying is even more dangerous than traditional bullying because the victim no longer has a safe environment. The bully has access to their victim at home and anywhere they go. Additionally, the technology broadens the audience. ("Traditional Bullying and Cyber Bullying”). Traditional bullying has always been a problem but new advances in technology intensify cyberbullying and make it harder for parents to get involved. Since

parents cannot protect their kids from bullying via technology, schools need to take action against cyberbullying both in and outside of school. Cyberbullying is not just a one-time problem, but the stress can cause behavioral and emotional damage for the rest of the victim’s life. Sociologist Robert Agnew proposes a General Strain Theory (GST) that describes the emotional reactions from strain as anger, frustration or depression. These emotions in turn lead to negative behaviors and coping responses. This was confirmed in a study that shows 38% of bully victims felt vengeful, 37% were angry, and 24% felt helpless. The strain is caused by inability to feel safe, lack of acceptance, and the direct negative emotions through the attack (“Cyberbullying Research Summary”). Being bullied increases the likelihood of people to get depressed because people feel powerless and begin to see themselves as how their bullies describe them ("The Long Term Effects of Bullying”). Cyberbullying is not just a danger to the victims but to the whole school because the bullying contributes to a negative school environment. This in turn leads to poor attendance, less achievement, and worse student outcomes. Students who experienced cyberbullying were less likely to mark on a survey conducted by Cyberbullying Research Center that they enjoy going to school and feel safe at school ("Fact Sheet”). The bullying over the Internet at students homes is brought into school and affects the way students learn. Cyberbullying and hate speech is a problem for police to manage; however, as soon as it affects the learning of other students it becomes the school’s problem. Laws should be passed to reduce the bullying in order to protect the students and the educational system.

The schools need to take action against cyberbullying by first trying to prevent it through education and creating a positive environment. A school-based curricular program is an effective way of teaching students appropriate social behaviors and how to better understand their emotions. Research shows that 15% fewer students in these programs engage in aggressive behavior (Greene). Schools also could emphasize antibullying through educational assemblies that are relevant and relatable to kids (SchoolBased Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying”). These programs would help, but the most important action the schools should take is creating a positive climate. The teachers should focus on academics while creating an environment that gives students healthy self-esteem. The teachers should not tolerate any abusive action in school to set examples of how students should behave outside of school as well. The teachers should work to maintain a positive climate in their classroom through emphasizing the schools core values, because school climate is measured by the “extent to which students internalize the norms and values of the school, and conform to them”. A positive school climate is proven through studies to reduce the bullying of youths (School-Based Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying”). The law should also require schools to take action after they hear of someone being cyberbullied. The schools should establish counseling systems and once they hear of a situation they should meet with the child’s parents. The school should take extra steps to encourage reports of cyberbullying by creating an anonymous system (SchoolBased Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying”). It is the school’s responsibility once they hear about a situation to ensure the victim has counseling and/or a peer counseling system.

The law should also assign the schools the responsibility to take disciplinary action if they hear of cyberbullying in and outside of the school. Even if the bullying takes place outside of school, the issues come back to the school so the school should be able to punish it (Scharnberg). The schools should pass out contracts that students sign to promise to behave respectfully to other students and warn them of the punishments. The punishments should vary depending on the intensity of the cyberbullying and how badly the victim was affected. Each suspected bully should have a meeting with a counselor with his or her parents at a minimum in addition to detention and suspension depending on the situation. The schools should use newly developed databases that can identify cyberbullying, based on analyzing the words and their relation to each other with new technology (Ortiz). If states do not pass laws forcing schools to take action, cyberbullying will persist resulting in the school environment deteriorating which will spiral to more cyberbullying. This will lead to less achievement and poor attendance. Also, if not stopped there will be an increase in suicide and depression rates. Students who are cyberbullied are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, experience bullying in person, be unwilling to attend school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, and have more health issues (“Stop Bullying”). Cyberbullying has intensified traditional bullying to be more harmful to students and to the school environments. The schools can no longer easily control bullying because technology has expanded it to home life. Schools cannot rely on parents to stop their children from sending hurtful messages at home because 70% of teens lie to their parents over their Internet activity ("Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts”). Schools need

to take their own action to prevent and discipline cyberbullying. States should pass laws requiring schools to take action about cyberbullying due to new technology’s impact on bullying, the psychological consequences, and the impacts on the school environments.

Works Cited Dombeck, Mark. "The Long Term Effects of Bullying." Mental Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/ view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13057>. This site talks about the long-term emotional damage of bullying.

Greene, Michael B. "Reducing School Violence: School-Based Curricular Programs..." Prevention Researcher Vol. 15, No. 1. Feb. 2008: 12-16. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 06 Mar 2013. This site explains programs that can reduce aggression in schools. Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin Patchin, W. "Cyberbullying Research Summary." Cyberbullying Research Center. N.p., 2009. Web. 2 Feb. 2013. This site explains the different emotional damage from cyberbullying. Hinduja, Sameer, and Justin W. Patchin. "Fact Sheet." Cyberbullying Research Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013. <http://cyberbullying.us/ cyberbullying_identification_prevention_response.php>. This source provides information of a survey used to determine how cyberbullying effects climate of a classroom. O'Brien, Breda. "Cyberbullying Means Collapse of Moral Code." Irish Times. 29 Sep 2012: 14. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Mar 2013. This site describes how technology reduces guilt and makes it easier for people to bully others. "Officials: Suicidal Teen Was Cyber-bullied." CBS News. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-502303_162-6146385.html>. This article tells the story of a girl was driven to death by cyber bullies and mentions the importance of awareness of the problem. Ortiz, Christina. "Software Detects and Deters Cyberbullying." Discovery News. N.p., 11 July 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://news.discovery.com/tech/ software-detects-deters-cyberbullying-120711.htm>. This article talks about the technological advances of databases to find and report cyberbullying online. Patchin, Ph.D, Justin W., and Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. "School-Based Efforts to Prevent Cyberbullying." Prevention Researcher. Sep 2012: p. 7-9. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Mar 2013. This site describes a positive school environment and different ways schools are affected by and can prevent cyberbullying.

Scharnberg, Kirsten. "As Bullies Go Online, Schools Crack Down." Chicago Tribune. Sept. 18 2007: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Mar 2013. This site provides the argument that schools should have the responsibility to prevent cyberbullying because it goes back to harm the schools. Stopbullying. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. <http://www.stopbullying.gov/ cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html>. This site lists common effects of cyberbullying and behaviors that victims are more likely to engage in. "Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts." NCPC. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.ncpc.org/resources/files/pdf/bullying/cyberbullying.pdf>. This site gives reliable percentages and statistics on the amount of kids reporting being cyberbullied and the amount of kids who lie to their parents about their Internet activity. "Traditional Bullying and Cyber Bullying: Are the Impacts on Self-Concept the Same?" UNCG. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. <http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/wcu/ f/Hines2011.pdf>. This source compares traditional and cyber-bullying to see if the new technology has impact on the victims and the bullies are different.