Who’s to blame for cyber bullying?

April 21, 2008

by Kristen Miller

Many have seen the disturbing video clips of a Florida teen being beaten by her classmates in Polk County, Fla.

For those who haven’t, the girl is shown being brutally beaten, punched, kicked, and smacked unconscious by a gang of girls ranging from age 15 to 18.

The girls apparently lured the girl to an apartment where the six of them took turns beating on her while two boys stood on the lookout.

With cameras set up, the girls were allegedly going to put the video on YouTube, a video-sharing web site, for the whole world to see. It never did make it on YouTube.

Even if it had, it would have likely been a hit. In order for these types of videos to be expunged, they need to be flagged by a viewer and the staff will review it. The problem is, most viewers wouldn’t flag it.

A victim of a gang rape was further victimized after the incident was posted on YouTube. It received 600 views before it was taken off, according to a March 4, Sky News report (even before the incident in Florida).

Though YouTube prohibits this content, 10 hours of footage is added every minute. making it difficult to moderate. Someone would have to manually look at each one in order to filter the content.

Many people, including the parents of the Florida victim, are blaming YouTube and the social networking web site, MySpace even called it the anti-Christ.

The victim apparently posted nasty comments about the girls, instigating the violent act.

This type of violence isn’t new to anyone. I’m sure many can attest to having been in a fight or seeing a fight, especially as a teenager.

I know I’ll never forget one incident in which a close friend of mine attacked me and pulled out a handful of my hair. Granted, she called and apologized immediately and we are still friends today, but it will always be in my memory.

This is pure violence which can’t be excused, but it’s fairly common none-the-less.

Defenders of MySpace and YouTube say it has nothing to do with the sites. After all, they didn’t beat the girl up.

What I’m wondering though is, did the sites help create a motive for the girls?

If they weren’t thinking about videotaping the fight for others to witness, would it have happened? It quite possibly still would’ve happened, but maybe not to the extent that it was executed.

These girls planned the details, set up the camera, and performed in front of it as they would an audience. If it wasn’t for show, who would care, right?

Some say, if it wasn’t for what the victim wrote on MySpace, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Granted, MySpace makes it easier for word to get around, but it’s likely her comments still would’ve prompted the incident, without the web site.

I think they all are victims. It begins at school with harsh words, catty comments, and rumors.

I’m just glad I never have to go through high school ever again. I didn’t have it that bad, but it’s no fun having to constantly mold oneself in order to fit in.

Sometimes, I think girls are much worse than boys. Boys take their aggression out with their fists and are friends the next day, whereas girls tend to antagonize one another with words for days, weeks, even months on end.

According to a US study, cyberbullying is becoming more and more of a problem, with one in three teenagers experiencing some form of online harassment. Girls are more likely to be cyberbullied at 38 percent, and boys at 26 percent of incidents reported.

I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon. The Internet has made it so much easier, but it starts somewhere else. Maybe some kids will have learned from this particular case in Florida and rethink before they type . . . or record, for that matter.

For more information on cyber bullying and how to stop it, check out www.stopcyberbullying.org.