Sometimes you read something, and it really makes you think! Like today for example, when Stuart told me about Kathy Sierra’s blog, and how harassing comments and other “cyber bullying” have recently caused her to seek help from police in ending this abuse. Click here to see her site. Be warned however, as there is graphic language and images that are not suitable for younger readers.
When we think of bullying, we normally think about children on the playground. A tyrannical youngster comes to mind, hounding other kids and being cruel by inflicting emotional or perhaps even physical abuse on others. Occasionally, we might think of sexual harassment in the workplace, or even rude comments made by people we may or may not even know. In this day and age of Internet *everything* it seems only fitting that we stop and think about the impact of on-line bullying, as it is happening more and more each day.
Many people equate the anonimity of the internet with the ability to speak freely. Derogatory comments, abuse and threats have become popular methods of communication by intimidation in cyberspace. Manners (or lack thereof) that exist in the *real* world seem to be left behind by many who write for the web. It seems some people feel that they are free to express opinions, make statements and leave comments that they would never otherwise leave, simply because they are “faceless” No one really knows who they are, and accountability is simply not there.
A recent case of high-school students’ commentary about staff members at their school, on a popular on-line blog, ended up in a violent demonstration by fellow students, where police were called in to tame the crowds of angry student protesters. Perhaps this was a case of over-reaction by police, but perhaps it wasn’t. Safety of those whom the threats were made against was not taken lightly, nor should it have been.
I myself have been the target of Internet “badgering” in the past. I made every effort and successfully blocked the abusive individual from leaving further hurtful comments on my blog. Comments that were left by someone who was doubtlessly leaving them to hurt or upset me. While his tactic failed, and I think he has more time on his hands than brain in his head, I was still left feeling quite unsettled by some of his remarks. I suspect that he still visits my blog daily (call it Internet detective work) and am very watchful for any evidence of his return.
Tomorrow is “Stop Cyber Bullying Day” Think about what this means. Never be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Do not say things on-line that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to a person face to face. If you see inappropriate comments, or users abusing the Internet do not let them get away with it, report them. The problem will end only when we take action against those causing it.
In the meantime, I am really thinking about my blog, setting up password protected sections, and limiting how much personal information I give out about myself, and especailly my children. Sad that this is the world we live in, but as *they* say “better safe than sorry.” Works for me.
For more information on Cyber Bullying, please click here.