Monday, February 13, 2012

Bullying - Part II

We need to clearly separate our efforts on eliminating traditional bullying and cyber bullying. The two solutions are worlds apart, as are the mechanisms of the bullying.

My start to blogging was a reaction to a CBC interview with Teenagers working to eliminate bullying in schools. I might suggest before continuing to read this article, that you read my initial post.

Once again, my morning drive, I enjoyed yet another CBC interview, this time with adults on the topic of bullying. To echo my thoughts in my first post, I do not feel that Adult intervention and Adult solutions are the magic bullet in elimiminating inter and extracurricular bullying.

Be it politics, economics or social systems, I continue to be in awe that we refuse to accept the new world that includes the internet. We ignore how our old methods of thinking must be adjusted to account for the immediate access to information and at the speed of light share thoughts, information and views with anyone on our earth.

Like all of the above, the issue of Bullying has been compounded with the advent of social media. Bullying within our academic system becomes exponentially more difficult to police, now that the fences of the schoolyard no longer provide a reprieve for the victims.

Personal attacks permeate through Facebook, Twitter, Texting etc 7/24. I suggest that cyber bulling can even be more vicious, as the bully need never stand face to face, or fear physical ramifications as they hide behind the distance that the internet provides.

As fundamentally different are the mechanics between schoolyard and cyber bullying, as do I think are the solutions. We will be unsuccessful in working in traditional ways to solve a technology based problem. Primarily, the responsibility (arguably) of dealing with School bullying, falls on the shoulders of the academic administrators, doling out punishment and protection as required. But who “owns” the issue of cyber bullying?

To deal with a problem that technology has created, technology must also be the solution. On a lesser scale, parents must become much more educated and aware of the mechanics of technology that allows this bullying to take place. Primarily the responsibility falls on those social network applications that make millions of dollars off of their customers.. Included in those customers are bullies and victims. I (of all people) want to make clear that it is not the responsibility of these social networking sites to monitor the content of its users. It is their responsibility to provide simple technical methods to prohibit unwanted comments, threats and the plethora of personal attacks on a victim. Most social networking applications do offer rudimentary blocking settings. But these need to be enhanced, and offer more options to the user and the user’s parents.

As with all new technical innovations, we don t know what we don’t know.. it is impossible for me to suggest a technical solution to combat bullying, but as Facebook, Twitter continue to develop new ways to share photos, offering GPS services, improving chat etc.. It should also be their responsibility to improve the ability to combat cyber bulling. These service providers should NEVER be held accountable for the user’s activity, but SHOULD be held accountable to offer tools to control who and what is being said about you personally.

We need to clearly separate our efforts on eliminating traditional bullying and cyber bullying. The two solutions are worlds apart, as are the mechanisms of the bullying. Diluting our efforts across both worlds will only minimize our efforts of eliminating the problem.

Oct 16th, 2012 - Postscript.. it seems that the internet community has risen (for right or wrong) in the case of Amanda Todd's Suicide.. A hacker group has done the work that I suggest the Social Media Companies should be doing.. Full article here.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. In all of the discussions that I have listened to recently on CBC, I don't think I have heard this distinction being made. The problem and the solution are significantly different for traditional vs cyber.

    I wonder when people are going to realize that yes, the internet is here to stay, it's 2012, let's stop pretending it is all so new. It is all our kids have ever known. When my parents went to school in the 50's, bullying assaults etc... were all there.

    1. Lets keep our fingers crossed that we do not have to wait until the children that have been forced to endure cyber bullying, become of age to be able to develop the technology to combat this "electronic" school yard.

  2. i question why we continue to allow children have a cell phone, a facebook profile, a twitter account...then get mad when they misbehave or do worse things on those forms of media...instead of questioning what we can do to stop about pulling back the access we give 'children''s a different problem but the principle is the goes to back to my confusion on 'children' aren't allowed to buy cigarettes and in theory society doesn't want them to smoke but yet schools had designated smoking sections for the kids...which everyone just likes to politely shrug their shoulders and say oh but it's off school why is everyone so concerned about what we can do to stop about we look at more ways to enforce it from even starting...

    1. Oh, how I hate to sound common.. but I have no choice here - goes back to parenting.. it is impossible to hide our children from the new world of social media, if not at home access will be from friends, from school, from PDA's etc. So the true root of the problem, alas is a bully is not a bully at birth. A bully develops shortcomings and insecurities from home. The mental weakness required to be a bully is developed buy their rearing. Need only identify a bully and take a peek at why, how they came to be that way. You wont have to look very far. The internet is a new easy vehicle for their spineless behaviour, and it is not going away. So the Social Media Sites - need to simplify the process of eliminating the symptom of bullying, our Social System needs to eliminate the cause.