In his post on Urban Semiotic, “Beating the CyberBully,” David Boles discusses the hate mail, anonymous and faked comments, and other tactics of cyberbullies. He lists some cases that have finally been heard by courts with jurisdiction, including the one when a vengeful adult drove a neighboring teenager to commit suicide. David points out that some states have adopted anti-cyberbullying laws while others don’t It’s so frustrating for parents and kids because we often feel pretty helpless, even when we can see the warning signs of cyberbullying.
I’m glad some states are finally passing laws to outlaw cyberbullying and I hope the Federal government will also. I’m glad YouTube, MySpace and Facebook also have become part of the policing effort; good for them. If these social networks don’t take strong action, then parents shouldn’t allow their children to use those sites; whether the kids like it or not.
It’s the only way we’ll have a chance to stop cyberbullies. Writing and enforcing these laws will be as difficult as enforcing the libel laws we already have. We’ll have to distinguish between an angry exchange and a pattern of on-going attacks.
The laws will make it possible to draw the line that outing and prosecuting cyberbullies is more important than the anonymity and privacy that the internet affords … and that we all like.
I don’t let my empathy, sympathy and pity of cyberbullies get in the way of doing what’s necessary to stop their behavior. Not only put them in prison, but make it illegal for them to get on the net again. Just like we restrict some activities of convicted felons.
I learned effective techniques to deal with bullies through growing up in New York City, by watching our six children (three girls and three boys) deal with each other and with bullies at school, and through my experience as a coach, psychotherapist and consultant.