Two Cases of Cyber-bullying

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Consider the situation of David Knight, an American student who was teased, taunted, kicked, threatened and punched for most of his years in high school. In an interview with CBC National News (Leishman, 2002), David explained that the most devastating aspect of being bullied was the humiliation he suffered every time he logged onto the Internet. Students from his school had set up a website about him where they continued the threats, insults and gossip. Rather than hearing about 30 people in a cafeteria yell insults at him, “[I]t’s up there for 6 billion people to see. Anyone with a computer can see it…And you can’t get away from it. It doesn’t go away when you come home from school. It made me feel even more trapped.” Neither the Internet provider nor David’s school took any steps to reduce the cyber-bullying, despite repeated requests by his parents. After six months, the parents threatened litigation against both parties at which time the web-site was finally taken down (Leishman, 2002).

 

In a Canadian example, a female Grade 11 student received an email from “RavegerRaveger” one Saturday afternoon, to this effect: “You don’t know me. But I know you. I’ve been watching you at school. If I were you I’d be very scared. Sleep with one eye open. Down on your knees bitch. Raveger’s reference to watching the girl at school is important. It brought the harassment into the realm of the virtual school environment, even though it was sent on the weekend from a home computer. Again, the Internet provider refused to close the email address for a “minor infraction” based on protection of privacy laws and concern about Raveger’s freedom of expression rights. School liaison police officers were unsuccessful in tracing the email. A male classmate eventually confessed that the email was sent from his home computer with three other boys. Although the identity of the perpetrators was reported, school administrators did not discipline or take educational initiatives to discuss the issue with students. They believed there was no obligation to intervene as the email was sent from a home computer. The harassment continued in the classroom, where the victim was stalked and taunted by the four “Ravegers” (Shariff, 2004).

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