This was originally published on Liberal America on March 11, 2016.
Bullying hurts children's self esteem. It's an important issue to talk about.
The Superintendent of the Decatur, Alabama, school district just spoke out about a case of Snapchat harassment in his district. Dr. Ed Nichols said they are treating this like a harassment case. It also violates the school district’s cell phone policy. He said his staff is reviewing the cell phone policies and is trying to make sure incidents like this don’t happen again.
The girl’s father said that his 13-year-old daughter was filmed getting undressed in the locker room at Cedar Ridge Middle School. It’s going to be hard to solve this case because Snapchat posts disappear after people receive them. But, a forensics firm has found that these pictures can stay on people’s phones after they have “disappeared.” They can be downloaded after the fact.
He said that the offending student has been disciplined, but didn’t go into specifics.
Social media can be a great thing. It helps people stay in touch; it helps connect people. However, it has also become another tool for people to bully each other with.
Unfortunately, the laws are somewhat behind on this issue. It’s hard to figure out how to punish these bullies. We need more legal precedents in these cases.
Cyber bullying involves several different kinds of posts: threatening a victim, sharing embarrassing photos of someone, creating fake profiles of someone, any content meant to demean someone, and threatening to post something unflattering about someone.
Bullying has definitely gone far beyond the school yard. Cyber bullying can make someone feel they are constantly being targeted. It increases risk of depression and anxiety for the victim. Many cases go unreported because of the stigma around bullying victims.
This is not the first case of girls being harassed online. Last year, a father got on YouTube and tore his daughter’s bullies a new one.
It’s not just children doing the bullying. The Obamas’ daughters have faced cyber bullying from a GOP staffer.
Even celebrities can do the bullying. Two years ago, there was a case of Shaquille O’Neal bullying a disabled fan.
Hopefully, we can figure out how to catch bullies that use Snapchat. We also need more anti-bullying programs all over the country since adults are still participating in bullying of their own.