Learning Obstacles

Cyberbullying

The premise seems so innocent; Formspring provides an avenue for people to “ask questions, give answers, and learn more about your friends.” The question of the day, “Who would win in a fight: pirates or ninjas?” captures the innocent fun children are invited to have on this site.

And yet Formspring is being used for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a prevalent problem in the 21st century, as the Internet has allowed children to act much more aggressive and hateful to one other—after all, a computer screen shields all emotional response. The child never sees the painful reaction in the other child’s face, so it allows the meanness to increase exponentially.

The example I have provided shows a Formspring page of one of my students. Saying that she is beautiful, funny, smart, creative, loving, and talented doesn’t even begin to characterize her qualities. She is beyond exceptional in every way…not the type of person one would expect to be bullied. And yet, this sample is just a small portion of the comments she has received online. Many I couldn’t print. Even the ones here have “…” where I could not repeat the words. Most people think that the weak are bullied, and yet today, so are the strong. But even the strong cannot handle the constant bombardment of hateful comments. My student has some great comeback lines; however, just seeing horrible statements written about oneself in print is incredibly debilitating. At one point, she even says, “Maybe I’m doing something wrong,” blaming herself for other’s jealousies and insecurities.

As you will notice, many of the comments and questions on her Formspring page are sweet and fun, honoring the original intention of the site. However, the hurtful intentions far outweigh the positive ones. My student’s Formspring page is an example of verbal and emotional abuse, creating the deepest emotional scars; we must all be aware that emotional pain can be one of the most severe obstacles, both in learning and in living.

For information on how to report cyberbullying, please go to:
https://www.wiredsafety.org/forms/stalking.html
http://www.cyberbullying.info/resources/report.php

For information on how to stop cyberbullying, please refer to:
http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/index2.html