Pushing Cyberbullying Too Far: Suicide of a 12 Year Old Girl

by catherine.nguyen32 on September 20, 2013 - 12:27am

On September 9th 2013, a young 12 year old Floridian girl committed suicide after being a victim of cyberbullying for more than a year. She is one of the youngest in a ever-growing list of children and teenagers who have taken their lives because they were being threatened or taunted online, either by Facebook or other cellphone applications that allow message sending and commenting. I chose this topic because it is extremely relevant to our modern society. When I was 12, I knew how to use Internet simply to research information on Google, to play games on Miniclip and to watch videos on Youtube. I am now 17, and it is crazy to imagine how much social media has evolved in a short span of five years, and not necessarily in a positive way. It has now become so easy to insult others behind a computer or a phone screen.

 

The state of Florida passed a law earlier this year that facilitates pressing felony charges for cases of online bullying. The sheriff's office of her county is considering filing charges against the middle-school students who were tormenting her with mean text messages. This made me wonder about the outcome of a similar situation if it were to occur here. Should Canadians, including minors, be allowed to receive felony charges for cyberbullying? In my opinion, I do think that they should be considered responsible and face the appropriate consequences because it is in no way acceptable to intimidate someone, even if it be by the intermediate of social applications. I do not expect minors to have to face the same legal consequences as an adult; however, they cannot get away with such actions without further punishment. I think that as teenagers, they are old enough to accept the consequences of the actions. We are all taught at a young age the importance of respect. If they are old enough to create their own social media accounts and choose what they write, then they are definitely old enough to have charges pressed against them accordingly.

 

However, some people may disagree by mentioning that these teenagers are simply teasing and that their comments should not be taken seriously. They may argue that their intentions were not really to push the person to suicide, but simply to feel like they have power over someone. They may add that they are not mature enough to fully be conscious of the effects of their words and actions, and that they should be given a second chance. Nevertheless, the person that committed suicide doesn't have a second chance now, do they?

 

To finish off, what should be done in order to prevent cyberbullying from happening? Should it be the parents' responsibility to keep an eye on what their children are doing on these social media accounts or the responsibility of each individual to denounce such actions? 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/us/suicide-of-girl-after-bullying-raises-worries-on-web-sites.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Comments

This article really grabbed my attention right off the bat with the title. Everyone wants to read further, as tragic as it is, about the death of a young child. It was a really good title choice for the piece. In addition to the title grabbing my attention, the subject of cyber bullying is an issue I have dealt with before. In my town in-school bullying isn’t really a thing that exists anymore because teachers squash any incidents that form. But out of school, when no authority figure is watching, on the internet, it gets intense. Girls especially are so caddy and petty from my town that every girl if you go to or went to Warsaw High School (My hometown) at some point was or will be subjected to bullying on the internet. I have actually been the victim of some cyber bullying. Nothing so severe that it pushed me to make such a drastic decision, but it was still hurtful. You picked a really good topic to write about because I feel like so many people can relate or at least sympathize with the situation. You tackled it really well, and were really sophisticated in your writing as well. The questioning section you incorporated was a good way to intrigue the reader and get them thinking about what can be done to put an end to cyber bullying.

Who hasn’t ever received a nasty, hurtful comment on one of their online accounts or had an unkind thought about someone and shared it with friends or just said it to the person’s face? Bullying is unfortunately a widespread phenomenon, which touches the lives of many. I, like so many others, have received such comments online when I was in grade school and will never forget the sting. We increasingly hear about younger and younger children who give in to the pain caused by bullying and commit the most extreme act, suicide. What we seem to fail to remember is that other children were the source of pain and torment of these poor, innocent victims and that they should be held accountable for their actions as well.

This leads to the ethical issue raised previously: “should Canadian minors be allowed to receive felony charges for cyberbullying?” To start off, I believe that anyone who bullies or cyberbullies should be held accountable for their actions, whether they are a child or not. I don’t think that children should receive felony charges though. At such a young age, children don’t understand the extent of the repercussions of their actions. Of course they comprehend that their words can have different effects on people and that some words they choose to say (or send) are cruel. I just don’t think that children are capable of taking a step back, may it be a small one, to see that some words can be devastating and can send others over the edge; they simply don’t have enough life experience. I think this justifies children not having such serious charges pressed against them. If they shouldn’t receive felony charges, they should receive some sort of punishment and also some psychological help since bullies usually act in such ways because they are hurt or have some kind of issue in their life. Children should have other consequences before being sent in a juvenile detention center.

The next question that follows is whether parents should be the ones responsible for watching their children’s every move on the Internet or should we all be equally responsible and denounce bullying when we see it? I believe the answer to this is a mix of both. Parents should definitely keep a close eye on their children’s activities on the Internet, especially if they permit them to have accounts at such a young age. They should make sure that their children understand that all content published will be seen by not only them but, in a sense, by the entire world. They should also ensure that their children know that every action has a reaction. The entire responsibility shouldn’t only be on the parents’ backs either; we all should take part in the battle against bullying and cyberbullying. Every time we come across an act of hate or violence, we should alert the appropriate authorities and tell the victims that we are there to help. If everyone stuck together and sided with the victims instead of ignoring the issue, there probably would be fewer cases of youth suicides.

I agree with the majority of arguments presented in the second portion of the post. I do think that children aren’t mature enough to understand the full repercussions of their actions and that their intentions most probably weren’t to push someone to commit suicide, no matter how harsh their words were. I just don’t agree that they should be given a second chance. Pushing someone past their limit is one of the worst actions one can commit and should not be pardoned by granting someone a second chance, child or not. We are all responsible for our actions. The bully should receive some therapy and should have some sort of authority controlling his/her access to Internet and especially social media sites. Giving a second chance will not solve the problem or prevent other victims from going over the edge.

So far, it has been said that the responsibility of catching and stopping bullying should be that of parents as well as Jane and John Doe. But what about the social media sites themselves? Shouldn’t they be somewhat responsible for monitoring hurtful comments and cyberbullying complaints from their users? This is explored in more depth in the following article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-21/ask-dot-fms-teen-suicide...

This post was very well written and I think that it hit home with a lot of people. The title of this submission grabbed my attention I think because of how popular cyberbullying has become. I agree with your argument that parents should be more aware of the social networking sites that their children are using and more parental controls should be put on social media.

Before the emergence of Internet and its numerous social networks, most bullied children were intimidated at school or on the way from school to home. As online social networks increase in number, in size and in popularity, bullies have more opportunity to intimidate other children. Not only can they intimidate other kids at school and on their way home, they can also do it online anytime they feel like it. Internet allows bullies to intensify bullying. Intimidation is becoming harder to control. This topic interests me because it is a really important subject in Canada. It is necessary to prevent all types of bullying, including cyberbullying for the well-being of our society, but, as raised previously, “Should it be the parents' responsibility to keep an eye on what their children are doing on these social media accounts or the responsibility of each individual to denounce such actions?”

Personally, I think that each individual has to denounce intimidation. It is not only the parents’ responsibility to do so. Parents are supposed to guide their children, not control them entirely. The parents have to show to their sons and their daughters that cyberbullying is wrong, but they cannot stop them from intimidating others on Internet. Parents will probably be unaware that their child is cyberbullying others. In order for parents to be conscious of the situation, they would have to invade their child’s privacy, which is against the major ethical principle of right to privacy. On the other hand, people that see cyber intimidation have to denounce it. They did not go against the right to privacy; they were only witnesses of this type of intimidation. Just like in a school yard, witnesses of cyberbullying have to denounce the aggressor. The victim also has rights, such as the right to feel secure. We have to defend these victims. It is not only the parents who have to watch their children; everyone has to play a role in the fight against cyber intimidation.

Moreover, I think that Canadians should receive charges for cyber intimidation. At the age children are able to chat online and be part of social networks, they are old enough to assume the consequences of their actions. If their parents believe they are mature enough to handle social networks, then these children are capable of understanding that the words they say to others affect them.

However, I agree that some children don’t intimidate others on Internet because they want to be mean or degrade others. Some kids don’t realize the effects of their words. Also, some children don’t understand that there is no difference between insulting someone in person or on social networks. Many children are not mature enough to be on social networks. So, they should not be penalized for an action they committed if they were not fully aware of its consequences.

Cyberbullying and cyber blackmailing has a lot of consequences on teens, and can even lead them to suicide. This article explains this subject deeper: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23727673

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