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Why Cyberbullying can be Referred to as “Unimagined Cruelty”

Discuss at least five reasons as to why cyberbullying can be referred to as “unimagined cruelty”.

Who do you think is responsible to address the issues of cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying has raised serious issues for law enforcement, school officials, child protection, parental supervision and freedom of speech advocates. These issues are being addressed in a variety of ways in different situations and locations. A social dilemma exists that has not been resolved. Many school administrators believe that the school cannot and should not be held responsible for every message that every student sends from their home computer. That is a daunting responsibility for our schools to assume.

On the other hand, many students who are being victimized by cyberbullying are reluctant to share that information with their parents in fear that the computer or cell phone will be taken off limits for them. Most parents are not savvy about the various ways that electronic technology can be used to inflict trauma and don’t know how to monitor their children’s usage, even if they wanted to. Schools may be the only recourse for some students where consequences can come into play.

List and discuss the various types of cyberbullying

How can each type of cyberbullying best be addressed?

What interventions have you seen successfully used?

Resources that should become available immediately for victims of peer abuse

List at least five resources that should become available immediately for victims of peer abuse.

We use the term abuse and bullying synonymously. An interesting side-note is that current reports indicate that 899,000 reports of child abuse are confirmed annually. In response to that appalling data, our society has created multiple resources and responses – including child abuse investigation services, national data collection, foster care and adoption programs, respite care, termination of parental rights, permanency planning, case management, counseling, prevention services, et al. costing billions of dollars.

For bullying, or peer abuse, which is estimated at between 5,000,000 and 8,000,000 cases annually, there is no national strategy in place. As of this writing 45 states have passed anti-bullying legislation but there are great variations in the bills and many mandates provide no monies or accountability to ensure enforcement of the legislative elements.

Bully vs. Bullier . . .How do you see it?

There are some who have suggested that we should not label children as bullies, that we should talk about children who engage in bullying behaviors lest we stereotype a child who is struggling to find a sense of personal power in a powerless arena. There are some who say that almost every child has been a bullier and/or been bullied and the roles are quite interchangeable. To that point, Dorothy Espelage, Ph.D. of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says: “Nearly 80 to 90 percent of adolescents report some form of victimization from a bullier at school, and kids who bully a lot also say they’ve been victimized.” Dr. Espelage believes that we should describe bullying as a continuum of behaviors rather than label any child a bullier, non-bullier, or victim.

A colleague, Lynne Lang, is suggesting that we use the term “bullier” rather than bully. She feels that referencing the behavior rather than the label is less judgmental.

Which term, bully or bullier, works best for you? Why?

Give as many reasons as you can for students to become targets.

When students are asked why some of their peers become targets, they usually reply: “Because they are different”. However, the list of differences they identify is almost endless – everything from weight and height to hair color and skin color to lack of agility or too much ability. By the time we vet the list, everyone in the class fits into at least one of the categories, so being different cannot be a legitimate reason.

Discuss what we can do to help witnesses “do the right thing”.

What about those children who witness cruelty and feel helpless to alter the situation? If you can’t protect others, can you ensure safety for yourself? What are the lifelong effects of guilt brought about by not speaking up?

Numerous parents have described childhood situations in which they were acutely aware of a classmate’s raw wounds and did nothing to intervene. Some have even shared poignant stories of having joined the group assault for self-protection. As they watch their children endure the indignities of others, they are racked by painful memories of their own sins of omission and commission. Share your experience as a witness to bullying.