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The Coin, The Railway and Online Bullying Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Charity, Philippines Nov 18, 2005
Education , Child & Youth Rights   Opinions


I recently came across a story about how this high school girl got expelled from school because she and a group of friends created a malicious profile of this girl online. During a sleepover, this girl took advantage of an available PC at home and wrote untrue testimonials about this girl. When the offended girl found out about this, she told her parents who told the school’s administration. There were ugly accusations against the administration and the offender's family because the family thought that expulsion was too much. I would like to stop at this point because the matter to be analyzed is the wrongdoing itself. I am merely pointing out the action taken as punishment for the wrongdoing.

In one of my class discussion, I gathered my students' opinion by telling them to empathize with the victim. I divided my class into small group discussions and after, a member of each group was picked to share the group's opinions. Common reactions were feelings of hurt, humiliation and embarrassment because of the fear that some people might actually believe the malicious attacks. I turned the tables again and asked my students to analyze the offender. Could it be that there might be an underlying reason why this girl would do such a thing? Maybe at some point the victim and the offender had a run-in and there were unresolved conflicts? Was it a way for the offender also to get back at the girl? All these were possibilities, so I relayed another story to them.

In the news lately, I heard about a woman executive who walks a route that passes the railroad to get to the bus she takes to work. She was in a hurry as she passed the first railroad, but realizing that there was an oncoming train on the second railroad she took a step backward. She did not realize that there was a fast oncoming train behind her. This woman got sidetracked by the train and was killed instantly. I was rather touched by her husband who was interviewed. He was expressing that he was trying to be very brave as he doesn't know how to bring up their three-month-old baby alone. It was such a sad story.

I asked my students what they are supposed to do when they cross the street. Everybody yelled "Stop! And Look!” Great! I was happy that everybody knew that. You see, the husband of the accident victim was blaming authorities for not posting signs. The authorities reiterated that there were signs and that it is the responsibility of the pedestrian to be very careful at all times. I told my students this: If they want to do something that will greatly affect their future they should first Stop, Look and Listen. I am happy to note that my students were able to see both sides of the coin.

So the real question is how do students handle online bullies? Most of my students' initial reactions vary. Some would tell their parents or maybe a teacher or the guidance counselor right away. The majority think that they can handle the situation on their own but that if it were to get out of hand they would seek help. I guess it is great to hear that students are willing to learn how to handle problems on their own. Most of them think that after the initial shock of knowing the offense against them that they would confront the offender. They said they would politely ask the offender and talk about the situation. If that doesn't work well from the start, maybe they would ask an adult to mediate and help to on how to contact the webmaster so they can report the malicious website. I also suggested that if there is bullying also within the school premises, done by the same person, maybe they could make a journal and write down the incidents including the names of witnesses for future reference during confrontation. Lastly, I implied that when there is bullying in any form that it would eventually lower the self-esteem of students bullied. Whether or not this person makes snide remarks like "oink, oink" when you pass by you can actually give that person a silly grin and say something silly like, "Thanks, I know I am cute..." This will eventually surprise and discourage the person because you did the reverse of what they expected of you. I guess it's how you see yourself and feel good about yourself that matters



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