The Mental Health of Our Children
A friend of mine told me that her son was doing homework with a friend via webcam. After about 10 minutes her son's friend said "wanna see something", and walked away from the camera. A few moments later the friend came back into the camera and started doing "weird stuff" in her son's words. After not talking for about 4 minutes her son knew something was wrong so he went find her. When she looked at the laptop she gasped and told her son to call her mother right away. The friend her son was doing homework with hung himself and his lifeless body was dangling on the laptop screen.
I grew up in the 90's. Being a kid in the 90's was great: watching Michael Jordan play basketball, watching WCW vs WWF was awesome, and the cartoons were great. Yes, I was bullied here and there but where I grew up a good punch in the nose stopped that. In the early to mid 90's there was no internet so the bullying ended when you left school for the day. However, today children have no way to escape harassment.
Cyberbullying is when the bullying leaves the classroom and continues online. According to stopbullying.com "among students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text". Cyberbullying had a serious impact on the mental health of children. Imaging throwing a small rock into a lake. It would cause a couple of ripples in the water and the water would calm shortly. Now imaging throwing a boulder in that same lake. It would make a big splash and the ripples may carry on for miles.
This is the difference and the evolution of bullying. The mean children in school would bully a child in school and it ended as soon as school did. In today's world the bullying continues online and it is magnified because everyone else has a chance to bully one person as well. If a child is getting bullied on Facebook other kids can join in on the "fun" by making fun of a child without even knowing the child.
Suddenly the embarrassment is magnified for the child. Being bullied in school is bad enough, but children who don't even know you have a platform to make fun of people they never met. What is a child supposed to do in a situation like that? I imagine it feels like the entire world is making fun of them. When children are supposed to be developing personalities, severe mental health issues develop instead.
I am not a parent, and I do not have the responsibility of raising any children. It would be easy for someone like me to say "just get off the internet". Easy to say, but much much harder for us to do. The internet has become a part of our everyday life. Children shouldn't have to become victims just for doing something we do every day. It has gotten so bad that schools offer counseling & therapy for students feeling suicidal.
I'm no parent, but I do care for all the children who have to deal with cyberbullying. A child in elementary school should now have suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, they should not have any ideas of hanging themselves while doing homework with friends. Let's teach our kids how to be nice to one another both in person and online. After all, children are our future.