I have taken some time to read and review this article on cyber bullying and schools. Being far from done I do have some points to make and thoughts on the issue at hand. Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray
The girl’s parents, wild with outrage and fear, showed the principal the text messages: a dozen shocking, sexually explicit threats, sent to their daughter the previous Saturday night from the cellphone of a 12-year-old boy. Both children were sixth graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J.
Before I comment I want to say that, again, I have read the article and understand the outcome of this particular situation with this girl and boy.
That said I have to ask, even though it is often asked, what is wrong with our society? Did I miss something? I do not remember sending sexual threats to girls at the age of twelve (or ever)! I did not even have a cell phone or allowed on the internet or even on the computer without some sort of parental supervision at that age. We as a society really need to look at ourselves as a whole and question why this is happening. People need to go Chomsky on the social aspects of society. I can easily list some reasons but not here, not now but maybe another topic.
“I said, ‘This occurred out of school, on a weekend,’ ” recalled the principal, Tony Orsini. “We can’t discipline him.”
Had they contacted the boy’s family, he asked.
Too awkward, they replied. The fathers coach sports together.
Too awkward? Your child is being sent sexually explicit threats and you can’t even talk to what I would think is a friend on some level about their son? Yes, it will be touchy and difficult but come on! If they are or are not friends at least I would expect them to be reasonable adults who can talk this over.
In my personal opinion, both sides are at fault because for one, the parents let them date (as the article explains) and two, hormones are starting to kick in and I am sure both the girl and the boy said some things they should not have.
For those who have not read the school finds out that apparently the boy did not send those text but I will get to that.
Often, school district discipline codes say little about educators’ authority over student cellphones, home computers and off-campus speech. Reluctant to assert an authority they are not sure they have, educators can appear indifferent to parents frantic with worry, alarmed by recent adolescent suicides linked to bullying
. I am going to look into the numbers more and even try to find if there is historical research looking at bullying and suicides. I’m interested in seeing if suicides have increased and, if so when and why. If anyone has some information to share please do. No matter what we may all think I am sure that we all agree that this is a serious issue.
A few states say that school conduct codes must explicitly prohibit off-campus cyberbullying; others imply it; still others explicitly exclude it. Some states say that local districts should develop cyberbullying prevention programs but the states did not address the question of discipline.
I am interested in reading the laws of the states who “explicitly prohibit off-campus cyber-bullying” because the sound of it sounds unconstitutional but I don’t know it till I read it. For now here is a wiki map of the states and their bully laws
. Not sure if it’s accurate but it will do for now.
A sixth-grade girl dashes to class, wearing a turquoise T-shirt with bold sequined letters: “Texting Is My Favorite Subject.”
Call me old fashion but texting is ruining our country...
The seventh-grade guidance counselor says she can spend up to three-fourths of her time mediating conflicts that began online or through text messages.
What a waste of time. What these kids should be doing is learning and not taking up all the time of school which is mentioned again in the article. I am not against the councilor either. I just wish these kids parents would take away their cell phones and not allow them on Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, etc.
In April, the burden of resolving these disputes had become so onerous that the principal, Mr. Orsini, sent an exasperated e-mail message to parents that made national news:
“There is absolutely NO reason for any middle school student to be part of a social networking site,” he wrote...
Ok, I agree...
If children were attacked through sites or texting, he added, “IMMEDIATELY GO TO THE POLICE!” That was not the response that the parents of the girl who had received the foul messages had wanted to hear.
Ok, overreaction. Word to the parents, “Be a Parent.” To the schools, “Stay out of my business.” I really do feel for the school because of all the time they have to waste on this pre-teen to teen nonsense.
OK, it gets long here so here is a quick overview. As I said, the two dated and it was for a week before they broke it off. The girl, before she complained about the texts deleted her replies. The boy tells school officials that he had lost the phone. I will let the article tell the rest:
By Wednesday, the girl’s father called Mr. Orsini. “How is this boy still in school, near my daughter? Why can’t you suspend him?”
The boy was a poor student in language arts classes, yet the text messages were reasonably grammatical. Mr. Wu dictated a basic sentence for the boy to write down. It was riddled with errors.
Next, an elementary school principal interviewed the fifth-grade boys separately.
By Thursday, Mr. Orsini telephoned the girl’s parents with his unsettling conclusion:
The boy had never sent the texts. The lost phone had been found by someone else and used to send the messages. Who wrote them? A reference or two might suggest another sixth grader.
The identity would remain unknown.
I give the school credit here because they were able to pick up on the fact that the boy is a poor writer and the text messages were “reasonable grammatical.” Perhaps the boy lied or maybe he really was innocent and that is where another problem lies. The issues can be complicated.
Meredith Wearley, Benjamin Franklin’s seventh-grade guidance counselor, was overwhelmed this spring by dramas created on the Web: The text spats that zapped new best friendships; secrets told in confidence, then broadcast on Facebook; bullied girls and boys, retaliating online.
“In seventh grade, the girls are trying to figure out where they fit in,” Mrs. Wearley said. “They have found friends but they keep regrouping. And the technology makes it harder for them to understand what’s a real friendship.”
Because students prefer to use their phones for texting rather than talking, Mrs. Wearley added, they often miss cues about tone of voice. Misunderstandings proliferate: a crass joke can read as a withering attack; did that text have a buried subtext?
The girls come into her office, depressed, weeping, astonished, betrayed.
“A girl will get mad because her friend was friends with another girl,” Mrs. Wearley said.
They show Mrs. Wearley reams of texts, the nastiness accelerating precipitously. “I’ve had to bring down five girls to my office to sort things out,” she said. “It’s middle school.”
This here is modern pre-teen to teen age life. It is harsh and many times stupid but we have all gone though it on some level. I will admit that the times are different. Technologies including texting and social sites have changed the way people associate and relate with one another. Friendships have evolved often becoming nothing but shallow shells. Kids these days have lost self worth and appreciation amongst other necessary tendencies. I have not read it yet but I have been following this trend and people need to read: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.
Recently, between classes, several eighth-grade girls from Benjamin Franklin reflected about their cyberdramas:
“We had so many fights in seventh grade,” one girl said. “None of them were face-to-face. We were too afraid. Besides, it’s easier to say ‘sorry’ over a text.”
Another concurred. “It’s easier to fight online, because you feel more brave and in control,” she said. “On Facebook, you can be as mean as you want.”
This is such a Hollywood generation. The internet, texting, and other non-face to face interactions have created a society in which people lack social culpability.
Alright, I am done for now.