I mentioned last week that I would have a guest blogger to begin my quest to find young writers. Savannah Schillings is an aspiring writer who sometimes shares her stories with me. When she brought this essay that she had written for her English class, I knew it was something that fit well with my site and my readers.
Technology Comes With a Price by Savannah Schillings
This day and age anything from computers to cellphones are a must. Technology has sky rocketed in advancements and upgrades in the last ten years, but with all this new diversity in the way we communicate and interact with one another comes new problems. Work, school, and socializing have become increasingly easy with the rise of new technology. Interacting via face book, emails, texting, having full-blown conversations without even hearing the voice of the person with whom you are speaking. One can’t help but to wonder, as easy as communication has been made for us in recent years, have we also made bullying and harassment easier?
With teen suicide rising, and cyber bullying becoming an unfortunate common problem among the youth, what can prevent this? Reporting being harassed or reporting that someone else may have fallen victim is the first step of making this change.
Cyber bullying is and should be treated as a crime. What if you came home to see your son or daughter cold, lifeless, and dead? A life lost due to harassment and humiliation, pushed over the edge until nothing felt worth pursuing anymore. This family would obviously want repercussions given to those responsible, but when is the line drawn between being a naïve child, and being a criminal with felony charges?
Jessica Bennett comments, “This is the conundrum of Phoebe Prince, in the suicide of the 15 year old, mass media have already decided, she was bullied to death. – her alleged 15 year old mean girl tormentors now charged with felony crimes.” (Bennett).
Bullying is something that should be prevented in schools across the United States, and cyber bullying should be taken more seriously by those in charge of holding the peace in schools. Recently it’s been reported that “20% of teens responding to cyber bullies have seriously contemplated suicide.” (Hinduja).
Freedom of speech is a privilege that our country is lucky enough to indulge in, however when those lines between freedom of speech and being out right malicious are crossed, steps need to be taken to make a healthy change. Words are just words in high school. We’ve all heard the phrase “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s not the case, though. Now with these new ways of communicating, those words can forever be found by simply logging into Facebook.
To be bullied or harassed at school is difficult enough without having to read all about it via the internet when arriving home. The most devastating part about cyber bullying is that there is no escape. Being constantly critiqued and ridiculed over rumors and gossip at school is bad enough. Seeing it in writing whether through text or social media makes it even worse.
Jonathan Zimmerman talks about two Pennsylvania cases where angry students created a MySpace profile depicting their principal as a “steroid and marijuana user” on the other profile he was portrayed as a “Pedophile and a sex addict”(Zimmerman). What children don’t realize is these are serious accusations, and if they had not been proven to be a juvenile prank, could have very well lost this man his job, his lively hood, and even landed him a spot on the list of sex offenders. How would this man have gotten any decent job after this? Kids’ naivety is growing; the internet seems to have become a shield to hide behind and the youth is simply untouchable when behind a screen of words, and in result, the already loaded teenage ego has grown in size and is pushing people to suicide and forcing grown adults out of jobs. Something has to be done, before the suicide rate goes any higher in this country, and before any more innocent people are made out to be less than they truly are.
Another even more disturbing part of cyber bullying is “Sexting”. The term itself is pretty self-explanatory and may seem a good idea in the moment. Maybe you trust the boy these pictures are being sent to. You love him and know he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. However, there have been new cases open involving nude pictures being sent with the malicious intent of harassing the individual displayed in the picture. Of course many may say, “Well, they shouldn’t have sent them in the first place.” This is true, but whose right is it to judge whether or not this person deserves an entire audience to something already humiliating in itself? These pictures are being sent via text message, and anybody found with nude pictures displaying anyone under the age of 18 will be charged with the felony, “Possession
of Child pornography”. What this means is even if it is not you in the picture, and if you didn’t send it, and even if it wasn’t meant for you, you are committing a felony simply by having them on your phone. The best advice is that if you receive a message like this, find an adult and let them know immediately because this horrible act has also pushed many teens to suicide. Carol Forsloff writes about a South Carolina teen “Jesse Logan who had her risqué photos sent around via text message and was being harassed every day at school, she began to miss school and hung herself in her room after only days ago attending a funeral for another teen that had also committed suicide” (Forslof).
Sending hateful messages, impersonating someone else, and sending risqué photos all have consequences. The government is in the process of passing new laws to prevent any more children from taking their own lives.
Before you press send tonight, question whether or not it’s worth a felony…Or whether or not it’s worth a child’s life.
*Bennett, Jessica. “From Lockers to Lockup.” Newsweek. 11 Oct 2010: n.p. SIRS Researcher. Web. 22 Sep 2011.
*Forslof, Carol “Teen commits suicide over nude photos sent by text message” 6 March 2009 http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/268666
*Hinduja, S. (2010). Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide. Archives of Suicide Research, 14(3), 206‐221.
*Zimmerman, Jonathan. “To Teach Students the Value of Free Speech, Sometimes We Must…” Newsday (Long Island, NY). 28 Feb 2010: A.34. SIRS Researcher. Web. 22 Sep 2011.
- All About Cyberbullies: Who They Are and What They Do (education.com)
- Stop Cyber-bullying Now! (ict-design.org)