Monday, April 10, 2017

Cyberbullying--new wineskins, old wine

Recently, an eleven-year-old boy committed suicide because he thought his girlfriend killed herself.  It turned out that the girlfriend had used a friend's Snapchat account (and the help of some of her other friends) to play a prank on the boy.  And now, she's in trouble with the law.  Reading the comments on the article, so many blame easy access to social media for the girl's actions. 
Yes, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram are relatively new.  Teenagers acting like assholes however?  Has been going on since the dawn of time.  This same prank could have happened without a single cell phone.
Girl convinces a few of her friends to tell Boy that she committed suicide and then cuts school for the day.  Boy, distraught, runs to a teacher, who has Girl's parents called.  Parents are unable to find Girl (because no one has a cell phone), and call the cops.  Boy, devastated, jumps off the school roof at lunchtime.  Meanwhile, Girl comes home from the mall and has to deal with not only her furious parents, but some incredibly ticked-off cops.  Same prank, same outcome--and nary a cell phone or social media account in sight.
While I don't think the girl should be charged with homicide, she needs to realize that actions have consequences, and that a "cute," "harmless" prank is neither.  Bullies (and that's what this girl is, social media or no social media) bully other kids because it's fun, and they get away with it.  Once they have their asses handed to them with hard consequences, they usually stop, because it's not worth it anymore.  Certainly a harassment conviction and a couple of nights in juvie will straighten out her head.

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