Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cyberbullying on the rise

Cyberbullying the newest threat to kids
From MSNBC RedTape
Wednesday, August 9 at 10:00 am CT by Bob Sullivan

"There's good news and bad news out this morning about the dangers facing children when they go online. It appears all the news reports and educational efforts to warn parents and kids about online dangers may be having an impact.
In a study released today by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, fewer kids report being solicited by strangers online for sex. On the other hand, there is an uptick in kids who report being exposed to unwanted sexual material such as pornographic spam; and there's a sharp rise in something experts call cyberbullying. If you're not familiar with that term, you will be soon."

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2006/08/cyberbully_the_.html

See also:
http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/
Links include: what is it? :: how it works :: why cyberbully? :: prevention :: take action :: what's the law?


Update: Aug 10 2006
Stephen Downes, on his OLDaily newsletter said:
"Cyberbullying isn't that new, though it is a recent arrival in the newly DOPA-aware political environment. All the statistics I have ever seen indicate that cyber-bullying is a bigger problem than on line predation. So will shutting down access to MySpace help? No, because then the bullies will just go back to good old-fashioned schoolyard bullying."

I think this misses the point to a certain extent. I commented:
I'm guessing that while MySpace certainly contributes to the problem, it isn't necessarily at the nexus of the whole issue.
The link I posted (http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/ - one of Parry Aftab's WiredSafety projects) describes the many forms that cyberbullying takes on, whether it is chats, blogs, IM, and so on - these are all network-based venues for bullying to take place.
One of the things that is different here is opposed to "classical" schoolyard bullying is that the published word has much greater latency and distribution, for better and worse. Better because it can be retrieved and the bully exposed, worse because it can be dwelt on, added to, and propogated far beyond the schoolyard.

My second point is that from what I've seen, the bullies never left the good old-fashioned schoolyard - they just have an additional and at times far more psychologically effective method of bullying at their disposal.

Will DOPA stop this sort of stuff? I seriously doubt it - I have mixed feelings about DOPA in general, but it is interesting to ponder how much it might mitigate the effects if this sort of stuff can't easily take place at schools.

1 Comments:

Blogger seaghan said...

Cyberbullying is certainly an increasingly common tool used by those who want to exert power over and/or abuse others.

Education about bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular will not solve this problem completely. Pupils need to assume responsibility for what they post (very important social skill in general). Technology can help by

- minimising anonymity if possible by letting pupils know that there are ways to backtrack IPs and logins so that serious infractions can be tracked
- improving the reporting / 'flag this post' facilities to reduce impact

Education in general can also minimise the clique effect, where by silence or participation (albeit not directly focused on the person being bullied) a group can reinforce bullying comments.

6:35 AM  

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