One way to solve bullying

photo by dbking

Here’s one approach to the issue of digital citizenship and cyber bullying:

A teenager in Georgia has decided to take things into her own hands after her school and police said they could do nothing about the classmates bullying her on Facebook.

Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston and her parents are filing suit against two classmates and their parents for libel after the two classmates allegedly created a fake Facebook account in her name, using a photo of her that they distorted. The account was also used to post a racist video to YouTube that implied that Boston hated African-Americans, and to leave crude comments on the Facebook pages of other friends, suggesting she was sexually active and smoked marijuana.

My first instinct is that this is a typical misuse of the US legal system: suing someone over a personal disagreement. Couldn’t the situation be dealt with through a conversation, a sit-down between the aggrieved parties? Boston and her parents pursued several avenues of recourse: contacting school officials, the police, and Facebook. But nowhere is it indicated that they tried to contact the bullies and their parents directly to address the situation. This demonstrates why a lawsuit is an excessive response: simple personal contact wasn’t attempted.

On the other hand, online bullying takes a schoolyard activity and puts it into the context of the real world, where we might call it libel or harassment. Even if the suit doesn’t go to trial, might this be the smack across the head that the bullies need?

3 thoughts on “One way to solve bullying

  1. i agree with you that other steps need to be looked into first. kids sometimes do stupid things for a variety of reasons. adults too, to be fair. but i still think the option to bring about a lawsuit should be available to people when things have gone too far. in this case creating fake facebook page is certainly over the line, but should still first be approached without a lawsuit. but if that is not effective, a lawsuit could be appropriate, in my opinion.

    • It’s just ridiculous that we allow interpersonal conflicts to escalate to such a level – especially between CHILDREN. You’d think the parents of the bullies would feel some contrition or responsibility. How can we expect our children to behave appropriate when the parents won’t model civic behavior?

  2. Yes, a lawsuit does seem a bit excessive, but maybe an example does have to be set at some stage…..and soon. A slap on the hand, an in-school suspension? That all seems a bit too soft for me. I have been doing some readings on Cyberbullying recently and the reports on the number of cyberbullying related suicides is enough for me to say “Suit the little …….!!”

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