Some time ago, an image of a bully was associated with a big guy offending classmates in the schoolyard. But the advent of Internet gave rise to new forms of bullying. Modern hooligans do not need to leave their rooms and can make just several mouse clicks to spoil peers’ lives.
Since young people almost live in the digital space, virtual threat brings no less harm than real one, can hinder victims’ well-being and psychological state. If facing a bully in a real life, a person may suffer several minutes of pain and shame, run away when torture ends and have a break until the next attack. But cyber criminals do not allow their victims to hide and rest. There is no calm even at home. Constant messages, likes, comments, sharing may drive a person mad. This process never lets up, leads to nervous wrecks, turns teenagers into stressed and intimidated persons.
Although cyber bullying is not as popular as other types of hooliganism, it attracts the attention of many concerned American parents. Experts from Pro-Papers are assured that state intervention is necessary to change the situation for better. The government should instruct children on how they may protect themselves, prescribe punishments and inform unscrupulous people about the consequences of bullying.
What cyber bullying laws do we have?
There is still no official legislation in this area. But many states incorporate cyber bullying laws in general codes on bullying. Most part of the content remains unchanged. An emphasis is placed on the fact that nobody has the right to mock, intimidate, blackmail one’s peers. Such aggressive behavior is going to be combated by the juvenile justice system.
However, web hooliganism also has some peculiarities. In particular, not only creators but also persons spreading offensive materials may be punished. Sharing defamatory information is as bad as producing it self-handedly.
It is also worth noting that school administration and staff are accountable for inaction. If a teacher knows that students are bullied and does not report about it, such indifference should be regarded as a crime and punished. It is the educators’ responsibility to do everything necessary to protect kids from online threats.
Does cyber bullying legislation work?
So, cyber bullying laws exist and are applied in some states. Are they effective? Statistics showed positive trends. Sad incidents resulting in depression, anxiety, health problems, and even suicide happen not so often as many people think. Tragic stories forced lawmakers to act, and even kids understand the seriousness of the problem.
Experience shows that raising awareness is a great thing for combating online hooliganism. A positive culture, high moral values instilled by educators help to prevent aggression. Informing students has definitely made an academic community more cohesive and strengthened mutual respect. Fewer learners believe that intimidating small kids is cool. Young people seek other ways to raise self-esteem and show leadership qualities, protect each other from bullies and report about aggression manifestations to a school administration.
Laws make it possible for papers not to be afraid for their children’s safety and psychological health. It is difficult to know what really happens in schools, whether kids are bullied or not, especially if teachers do not care. Many students are way too shy to tell adults about their problems. If bullies use provocative materials which may disgrace a person, one will stay silent as long as possible.
Since legislation holds schools accountable, it is more likely that young people will receive support. There are fewer institutions not bothered to act, fewer teachers thinking “I receive a salary for holding lessons. Nothing else interests me.”
According to surveys, most parents believe that cyber bullying should be punished by a school administration, and only extreme cases should be considered by a juvenile court. If educators develop effective suspension and detention methods, it is quite possible to avoid aggravating the problem.
Serious informational work should precede punishment. It is worth keeping young people updated on current bullying laws. Many teenagers commit crimes simply because they do not know about the consequences. Therefore, teachers should attract learners’ attention to the issue. Otherwise, even the strictest legislation is not likely to prevent the actual occurrence. Laws can only create a favorable environment for the struggle against online hooliganism, offer punishments deterring unscrupulous persons.
For their part, moms and dads should prepare kids morally for unpleasant encounters and difficult social situations, explain that students should not be afraid to inform adults about attacks and ask for help. The digital world is fast and dynamic. Online problems aggravate faster than real ones. If action is not taken, a child may find oneself in a strong grip of a perpetrator, play according to a dictated scenario, vilify one’s name more and more.
For example, bullies often use intimate photos to blackmail victims. They demand new photos in exchange for not publishing previous ones. If a victim panders to them, a portfolio with incriminating materials grows. Threats become viral, and a child does not know how to break out from this vicious circle. If a student informs parents and teachers about bullying when receiving the first intimidating letter, the problem may not reach such monstrous scale.
It is important to assure kids that they are not alone, thousands of their peers become victims of cyber bullies, experience the same fear, doubts, and shame. Students should be taught to respect themselves, protect their own dignity, oppose predators and not fulfill their orders. After all, people do not stay silent when somebody steals their wallet. Bullied kids should also step over their fears, inform a school administration and parents about blackmailing. Concealing attacks, victims will only support aggression, show to bullies that crimes may go unpunished.
Therefore, it is not worth imposing liability solely on the state. Cyber bullying legislation should exist to handle extreme cases and complete work which schools find way too challenging. Joint social efforts will help to address this issue in a long-term perspective.