Bullying through social media leads to tragic results

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horrific twist on the traditional playground bully has swept the nation in what can only be described as an epidemic.

Imagine coming home from a long stressful day at school, slinging off a heavy bag on your shoulder and collapsing onto your bed. You open up your laptop/smartphone and log onto your social media account. A notification tells you that there is a new message in your inbox.

As you open the message your heart sinks.

horrific twist on the traditional playground bully has swept the nation in what can only be described as an epidemic.

Imagine coming home from a long stressful day at school, slinging off a heavy bag on your shoulder and collapsing onto your bed. You open up your laptop/smartphone and log onto your social media account. A notification tells you that there is a new message in your inbox.

As you open the message your heart sinks.

Messages like “You’re ugly,” “No one likes you,” and “Why don’t you just kill yourself,” stare you in the face. Now imagine for a second that this is not just one day—but five, six, even seven days out of the week. Welcome to the demoralizing world of one being cyber bullied.

This scenario is all too real in today’s society. And was no truer then for Florida’s recent cyber bully victim Rebecca Sedwick, 12. On the bad side of Guadalupe Shaw, 14, and Katelyn Roman, 12, they exploited the world of social networking through Facebook and began a malicious assault on Sedwick telling her to “go drink bleach and die” along with a plethora of other unjustified defamation. This torment continued until Sedwick took the only escape route she could see, on Sept. 10 she jumped off of  an abandoned concrete mill to her death. 

Studies by i-SAFE report that more than one-third of teens have faced some form of cyber bullying and only half of those teens tell a parent. There are some solutions to this problem that seems to be infecting schools everywhere.

The first is awareness.

Whether a parent, friend or perhaps even a stranger to someone being bullied you have the power to save a life. Parents should be vigilant for early signs of depression such as withdrawing from contact with family or friends, trouble eating and sleeping, losing interest in favorite hobbies and engaging in reckless behavior. Teens, be more aware of friends, ask them about their day and how they are doing. By simply talking about more than the disgusting lunches the school sells may uncover issues that you did not even know they were dealing with.

If you are being bullied or know someone who is, talk to an adult. Do to the recent increase in cyber bullying, teachers are now taking it more seriously then they use to. Talking to a teacher is a strong force to help prevent cyber bullying in a school atmosphere.

And if you are reading this and are dealing with a bully reach out to your parents, friends or even a teacher. You will be surprised who cares.

And for those who have the desire to bully, Florida has taken extreme measures in seeing that this vicious circle of tragedies stop. Shaw and Roman were arrested under felony charges, suspended from public school for a year and await unknown consequences.

Bullying is unacceptable in any form and there is help out there for those contemplating suicide for any reason. If you cannot reach out to family, friends or peers, there are still people you can talk to. The San Diego Access & Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-888-724-7240 and It’s Up to Us (up2sd.org) is a tremendous resource for people to talk openly about suicide, raise awareness in hopes of prevention.

This trend of Internet abuse has got to stop. The cost is too high. It is lives we speak about and it is up to everyone to be informed, involved and included in preventing such travesties in the lives of today’s youth.

 

Nicholas Vaughn is a senior at Valhalla High School’s journalism program.

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