One of the most popular ways we abuse our freedom of speech on the Internet is by “cyber bullying”. Cyber bullying is defined as “when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.”(Cyberbullying)
Here are some statistics that I found concerning cyber threats:
- Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
- More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.
- Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
- Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs. (Cyber Bullying Statistics)
This is happening all too often and it has only been recently that actions have been taken place to stop these harassments. This particular topic hits close to home with me…
When I was twelve years old, I changed middle schools going from public to private. At first I was really excited to meeting all these new people and the most popular form of communication was through AOL Instant Messaging (AIM). And I was always willing to hand out my screen name in the hopes of making new friends. Well, little did I know, some of my classmates were handing out my screen name to their other friends who I didn’t know. They all banded together and would harass me on a daily basis. Saying things like “You don’t belong at their school”, “No one likes you at this school, you need to go back to where you came from”, and “You’re fat and ugly, you have no taste in style”.
Ironically enough, each day I would go back to school and try to fit in with these people and each night the bullying would continue. I subjected myself to this torture for months. It led to low confidence, depression, and I felt like an outcast.
Finally one day the messages went too far, and I showed them to my parents who immediately took action by seeing the principal. The girls said they were “just kidding around” and because they had been going to this school for years and had their parents were big investors, they merely got a slap on the wrist. The bullying did stop, but I wished they got more of a severe punishment so they would recognize that what they did was wrong and was just as painful as getting into a physical fight.
When this happened to me, governments were just starting to realize how big of a problem this was. It took some time on how to treat these cases because there was no set precedent for situations like these since before the Internet, bullying was done in person. How do you punish someone for hurting you when there aren’t any visible scars?
This is the exception to when I feel it would be OK for Broadband carriers to regulate what is said on the Internet. In this sense freedom of speech is being abused and is not going against what others may think is wrong. In my next post I plan on explaining further the steps being taken to stop cyber bullying.