From the Megan Meier case to the cheerleader beatdown, it seems like bullying has gotten out of control. A new report out of Japan reveals that there are over 38,000 unofficial middle and high school web sites not overseen by the schools and half contain hateful messages. 40% have sexual slang and 25% display violent words like "drop dead" and "i'll kill you." It's just talk, right? They're just kids! You said — and heard worse things when you were their age. But consider the 18-year-old boy whose classmates posted a nude photo of him on one of these unofficial school sites. To add insult to injury, they sent him e-mails demanding money — blackmailing him. The teen dealt with the problem by leaping to his death at school.
Here in the US, a 12-year-old Brooklyn girl tied a belt around her neck and hung herself in her closet last week. Maria Herrera's mother claims that kids at school would "harass her, curse at her, call her 'train tracks' because she had braces" and "cut her hair." At Maria Hererra's memorial, classmates left notes that read "I am sorry" and "We won't bother you." Maria's mother says she went to the school to complain about the bullying and nothing was done.
In the UK, teachers have been instructed to crack down on bullying, manipulation and vicious behavior. But here in New York state, anti-bullying legislation has been proposed, but not passed.
Bullying is not new, but suddenly, we're living in a world where everyone's a critic. Cutting other people down is commonplace, a sport — from TV shows like America's Next Top Model and American Idol to blogs, MySpace and Facebook. Vicious words have always been present in school settings, but when we're in a society that seems to thrive on schadenfreude, how can kids feel like anyone gives a damn?
Cyber Bullying Common In Japan School Web Sites: Study [Reuters]
Bullies Blamed For Pre-Teen's Suicide [Gothamist]