October 4th, 2010
11:01 AM ET

In a wired world, children unable to escape cyberbullying

Stephanie Chen

Editor's note: Bullying is in our schools, and now it's online. Why do kids do it? What can be done to put an end to it? Don't miss an "AC360°" special report in collaboration with Cartoon Network: "Stop Bullying: Speak Up," starting tonight at 10 ET on CNN.

(CNN) - Jason, 13, knows he is an easy target for bullies at his middle school in Long Island, New York.

His diminutive stature hinders him from retaliating against the taller, heavier boys who tease him. He prefers to wear skinny jeans and black zip-up hoodies, fashion choices that induce comments like "emo" or "gay" from classmates. He has an affinity for comic books and Xbox games such as "Halo" and "Call of Duty," and for pursuing these hobbies, other kids call him a loser.

Jason says he has been ostracized and was once punched in the neck at school, but the peer torment does not end when he enters the comfort of his home, on the weekends or during summer vacations. Last year, he says he became a victim of cyberbullying - vicious, viral and incessant attacks through text messages, e-mails and Facebook posts that have both replaced and supplemented traditional schoolyard bullying.

"It's really horrifying the next day after the message has been sent around, and you're the laughingstock of the school," Jason says. "You have no idea why or what's funny."

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Lana

    Bullying does not stop at school, university, or work. You wonder why people kill themselves or go 'postal?' Look at adult bullying.

    Having a disability that every doctor 'denies' coworkers and bosses continually abuse and harass at work and online, even after I'm gone. Know plenty of people who bring this is up but deny it when addressed will not tell me where. Cannot get a job. No longer leave the house. Why live? Even law enforcement would rather believe the gossip. Why ngo on? Difference is, when it is a child with parents left to hold a public (or private) school responsible it is big news. For the rest of us, we are just someones 15 minutes of internet fame, and everyone gets off big time after the suicide.

    October 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  2. Liz Van Essen

    Schools should include more discussion in their assemblies and chapels. My husband and I have noticed that the media is full of bullying of sorts, from all the "reality shows" where people are being humiliated to Donald Trump's "you're fired" re-occuring theme. It's high time north americans realize that puttin someone else down illustrates a flaw in YOU, not the person you are making fun of or taunting. Morals and values need to be taught in the home at a very young age.

    October 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  3. Erick

    Why do children bully each other? Do we really need a person with a PhD to tell us what we are doing wrong or what we are doing right. Come on people – we are all bullies inside. These stories are no shocker – it is happening all over the world in different ways.

    Politicians bully each other – is that wrong?

    In order for us to get to the root of the problem we need to look at ourselves and understand why we have the urge to bully a person.
    The focus should not be on children but ourselves.
    Can we be good examples for children if we walk around and bully others?

    Children dont know any better – they are just mimicking what they see in their homes & environment.

    No policy will change the mind of a bully until we stop & look inside ourselves!!

    October 6, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  4. Rudy

    How do you stop Bullying? get the parents involved, and the parents need to care, and not just blow the individual off.
    Getting bullied on the net? Areyou kidding me? I know from experience. Kids get on the internet and join up on the facebooks and myspaces because theres a disconnect somewhere within the family. The feel 'bullied' cause they have no one to turn to. The 'net became 'family.
    The home is where it starts

    October 6, 2010 at 1:31 am |
  5. Jane Jones

    I was a teacher from 1973 to 2007. My career was a joyfull chance to meet and teach over 3,000 students and for them to teach me. We became family so any teasing/bullying was usually discussed openly. I taught high school from 2001 to 2007 and texting, facebook and twitter allowed students to share information before they left my room. The "Joke","hate-filled" message, plan for a fight or mocking activity would already be all over the school before the end of class. Likewise for a targeted teacher because these powerful groups of students from good homes had becomming powerful as part of their agenda. Why? I would ask them – their answers – even the sweet, bright beautiful "A" girls – thought it was funny to throw rocks at other kids on the playground. As to planning stories together to "get a teacher in trouble" – that was not only funny, but gave the group a sense of power. These were bright, sneaky kids from good families. First words from parents: "My child doesn't lie to me." Because technology allows such fast collaboration – unless rules are enforced with no exceptions and all the teachers are on board – students will learn how to play the system. No breaks for anyone you broke a rule and this is the consequence. At change of class – teachers must be in the hall – guidance must remove bully and bullier from proximity until a plan can be put in place with a mediator. When Bullying is observed the teacher and guidance department work together to support both parties. Lots more but this is not the place to lay it all out.

    October 5, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  6. Kay

    My daughter is not gay, but was in an abusive relationship that caused her to quit going to classes. I went to school and was told that they didn't believe this young man would do anything unless my daughter provoked him. She graduated only because another young man killed himself because he was bullied and the school didn't want this to happen again.

    My daughter has never spoken out because she is terrified he will hurt her. He said he would kill her if she talked bad about him. She has been out of high school for two years. Her health is compromised and she is afraid to go out.

    He ruined her reputation, until she had no friends. She said going to school made her feel like she was invisible. I talked to teachers. I talked to administration. There was no help.

    She is intelligent and beautiful. School should have been a good place. She wanted to study Physics and Scientific Computing. Right now, we don't know how things will turn out.

    And that young man....he is going to college and living his life. He admitted to a mutual friend what he had done....he knew what he was doing and didn't care.The school never contacted his parents concerning other girls that wanted to bring charges against him....the administration didn't encourage the girls to do that.

    Every time we tried to intervene at the high school, her life got worse.

    It isn't just homosexuals that are targets. And there is no help.

    We still don't talk about this out of our house because we aren't sure she will be safe.

    October 5, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  7. Cynthia Hammer

    Your focus on gay bulliying is too narrow, schools need to address ALL bullying starting in kindergarden. You can't wait till middle school to start addressing this problem. Kids need to learn kindness early and it needs to be reinforced often and modeled often. Something we as a society do a poor job of.

    October 5, 2010 at 1:52 am |
  8. Ann

    Anderson, Bullying is not just gay problem. Let's talk to all children/teens who are being bullied, and let them know that they need to speak out to an adult for help. All children/teens need to know they are important. I'm saddened about all these stories, but I also know that there are so many more that either have not been mentioned, or barely touched upon, and it makes it seem that these tragic stories are not 'important' enough because the victim is not a LGBT teen.

    Just this past week, two students, age 14 and 16, both from the same high school, commited suicide by hanging themselves. I Live just down the road from this school, I have three children that attend another high school in this district, and I think this is a tragic, sad event. I don't know the reason why they took their own lives, but no reason is a good reason. I have heard that they were bullied, but again, I don't know why, except that they both were a part of a 'wolf' clan that has a following here in some of the high schools.

    Let us reach all students. That's all I ask. Every child is important and my heart breaks for thes children, and their families. So sad.

    Let's support ALL our children.

    October 5, 2010 at 1:50 am |
  9. Jim Marshall

    I feel that bullying has been a problem for every generation, I feel that we try to control our children and make it impossible for them to stand up for themselves. I grew up taking care of people that could not stand up for themselves. I was in a fight two to three times a week, if I would have been suspended from school everytime I fought for someone else, I would never would have graduated from high school. I feel that we try to fix a problem and we just make it worse. We might just let the children take care of their own problems.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  10. Beverly Murphy

    bulling is not going to stop. Problem is the parents and sometimes school personal. Parents r to busy with work and are not home, have drug problems, don't care or many other issues. Kids have a serious lack of supervision, not involved in activities and think it is funny. Until parents are held accountable for their kids behavior it is not going to stop. School personal are not exempt from this type of behavior in one form or another. If a kid is of lesser income, bad grades, bad attitudes, they have no interest in them and openly treat them bad. I had a principal tell me "not every kid is cut out for school" while he had a sign on his wall saying every child deserves an education. My daughter works with Autistic children, that is her passion. She tells me that she has seen teachers slap the children up side the head. The problems of kids these days are the parents and their lack of care for them. If a kid acts out the school wants them medicated for A.D.H.D., did you know the kids in kindergarten can be suspended or expelled? I was shocked. No wonder kids act like they do. The parents are to blame.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
  11. Florence Kaplan

    If our schools/colleges are continuing to be co-ed, then right from first grade, there must be a daily half hour subject called "community and morals". Since we are such a society with different backgrounds and cultures...this is the ONLY way. This happens in band, games, extra curriculum activities etc. so much so, some students are scared and want to learn karate or other defence activities. There is toooo much stress on the young so teachers and parents have to be involved right from the start.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  12. Deborah Hamui

    Bullying is a BIG problem, more so with the use of technology. We need to promote a safe and friendly environment for our children. It is possible!!! we must do this. It is our responsibility as a society, together with our children, their teachers, parents, siblings, and authorities. Bullying can be minimized through the use clever tactics that transform the negative environment into a positive, nurturing one. WE MUST DO THIS!!!

    October 4, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  13. douglas sandler

    I was bullied in high school before there was internet, so I know how it hurts. I was bullied in the navy to such a degree that it led to my discharge, which i'm trying to overturn. Kids who have learning disibilities are particually singled out in my experience, but in my case the several disibilties were not caught till college in 2006. I am 43 and have been bullied in high school, military and my former roommate in the 1990's. any type of bulling is wrong.

    October 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  14. leasa

    bullying, teasing & hazing have become so acceptable you are seeing it in advertising. Jack in the box has a new ad in which it shows employees hazing an intern but dumping him by a rope into a shake & laughing. It is completely insane, that we are promoting this behavior on our televisions. As a community we need to teach that bullying (on any level) will not be accepted. We should do better by our children. We need to do better. We can't afford not to.

    October 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  15. Mark Johnson

    Hello AC, gays are not the only group being bullied; anybody that is different can be a target. What about the Irish exchanged student a couple of months ago?

    We need to teach our kids to respect all, no matter how different they are. RESPECT is the KEY.


    October 4, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  16. glenn bassett,shirley,ny

    As I wrote in a previous blog here we need to start holding parents accountable for their children s actions just as we do with social host laws,I am responsible for what my children do on the internet because I am the one who provides them with this privilege.I have been after my local politicians and school for the last year on this issue and I will not stop.It is my goal to make sure my children are safe and to stand up for them when others fail.

    October 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  17. Robespierre Sully

    Dear should win a nobel peace prize Mr. Cooper,

    Thee unfortunate exposure our children have to endure in all aspects of life is hard, & now we have a new battle, and brewing for a longtime. Lets teach our kids selfdefense & decipline, love and resepect for others. but now we are losing our children and time is wasting. but Mr. Cooper; you stay with the issues, punctual, persistant and sync towards establishing a resolution, thank you Sr.

    October 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  18. Dr. Anne Townsend

    Bullying, teasing, and social exclusion occur at virtually every age, and children across the developmental spectrum need healthy coping skills. The long-term effects of bullying are physical, emotional/psychological, social, and academic. Bullying has been empirically linked to diminished social competence and to problems that exacerbate learning issues in the classroom. Addressing only the bully and the target is often ineffective. The power to change these behaviors lies in empowering the bystanders and addressing the culture and community at large. Whether a child is the target, the perpetrator, or a bystander; teachers, staff, and parents can address and reduce bullying by promoting social competence and changing social norms. At Mariposa Child Success Programs in Maryland, we take a “whole school approach” to changing the educational/environmental social norms by teaching educators and parents how to address these issues and help children deal with them. When we work together to help children, everyone benefits.

    October 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  19. Ron

    Teachers, bus drivers and parents need to take a stand against bulling of any child. Bullying is nothing less than a hate crime, a violation of civil rights and should be treated as such. Holding all parties responsible, parents of the bully, teachers, bus drivers and any adult that is able to stop it but instead "see but don't see"
    How can we teach our children to be responsible citizens when most grown ups turn their back on children who suffer. Regardless how we feel about a child's dress, or his or her sexual orientation. Everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity...

    October 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  20. Mike

    This is the problem with all forms of Bullying. You generalized who the people are on both sides and you generalized what occurred. If you want to see the real reason why we can't control bullying ask all of your followers to send you the names of a bully and the person he's bullying and the specific bullying that is occuring that they know of today and watch your response.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  21. John J

    When it comes to bullying, we must first look at the way conservative politicians and intolerant religious groups express themselves about minority populations. As an example, they consider gay people evil and deviant. Why don't we hold them accountable for their bullying? Bullying is a learned behavior. Young people are very vulnerable to these conservative backward, intolerant, and oppressing thoughts.

    October 4, 2010 at 11:32 am |