Cyber Bullying on the Rise, Authorities Are Cracking DownBy Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Aug 2011 08:05pm |
Cyber bullying is on the rise. Years ago bullys took advantage of their victims on the playground or school bus, but now, they're adapting to an increasingly digital age. MPB's Daniel Cherry on what authorities are doing to fight it.
When some people get in front of a computer, they'll say things they'd never say in person. Seventeen year old Audrey Gunn from Carthage says she's never been targeted herself, but she saw the way her friends were affected when others attacked them online.
"I do have a few friends who are undecided in their sexual orientation. They get a lot of the mainstream bullying so much that they've deleted accounts or blocked certain people."
Cyberbullying has been linked to several suicides in recent years. Derek Randel is a Chicago based anti bullying advocate. He's urging parents to get informed on the matter and have open lines of communication with their children. But Randel says children aren't the only ones at risk. As students are returning to school for a new year, he says teachers need to be aware of the dangers to them.
"Teachers are having Facebook pages set up in their name, and everyone thinks it's their First Amendment right. 'I can do whatever I want.' Teachers are also being bullied physically by both students and parents. It's becoming a contact sport unfortunately."
Law enforcement has the difficult task of keeping up with the adapting bullying tactics. Earlier this year Mississippi lawmakers passed a law aimed at cracking down on cyber crimes. Attorney General Jim Hood says those children who think it's funny to make a fake profile of someone online could find themselves in deep trouble.
"The caution I want to send is, any kid who's thinking about spoofing someone else's email address or impersonating someone online. It's still a misdemeanor, but it is a minimum mandatory sentence of ten days in jail."
An online safety group, the I-Safe Foundation says nearly half of all children report being a victim of cyberbullying at least once.
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