Bullying used to end when the student got off the bus, now it follows them home

Facebook bullyingIt used to be that bullying stopped when you got home from school. It gave kids a rest from being tormented once they got off the bus. Seldom would a bully call a child up at home, ask to speak to little Johnny, only to have the parents say “OK”. I can’t even imagine a situation where that would happen. However, the onset of Facebook bullying makes it all too easy and continual.

We know of the “internet tough-guy act” that sprouted up during AOL’s heyday. We know there is a bit of a pump up in daring when a person can sit behind the monitor and not have to say or do those things to the other person’s face. Humans are a race of cowards; Facebook and the internet just magnifies it.

Facebook, like the old saying goes, loves to be in the news – good or bad – because it gives them further marketing hits. It isn’t in their self-interest to police its members. When bullying pages pop up, Facebook does eventually shut them down, but do they so dragging their heels and hiding  behind the “We are too big to police all the time” excuse.

By allowing bullying to go on longer than it should, Facebook is allowing the bully into the house of the victim. Facebook is directly linked to bullying that has caused people to end their lives. No longer did they have the refuge of their house; no longer could a kid go into his room and dread the next school day; the school day never left the child. Bullying continued to be alive and well in the child’s own sanctuary.

Facebook makes money off of having more people. It makes too much money to be held accountable. It has done so because we continue to allow it. We are silently watching Facebook destroy children, but the burden really is ours. Facebook is just at tool. A tool isn’t a danger in itself; a tool needs hands to manipulate it to a desired effect. Facebook and Zuckerberg are such tools, being used to torture children with bold face determination to destroy lives publicly – with a lot of others watching in the crowd.

Crowd mentality makes Facebook the “perfect” place to bully. We’ve seen it in our own lives (us “old timers” pre-internet). A kid is being beaten by a bully. The fight usually doesn’t last long, but there is a crowd, there is always a crowd. The crowd is rarely, if ever, on the victim’s side. Facebook makes bullying very public that anyone with an iPod can witness and “Like”.

Facebook Bullying
A coward’s boast about bullying

Children aren’t meaner than before; they just have little supervision on the computer. The 24/7 world of the internet allows Facebook to create an instance that would normally have diffused itself after school into a life threatening situation.

Some parents and school figures are magically “elsewhere” when Facebook bullying is known to be occurring, through fear of not understanding what Facebook bullying is or the school mumbling something about “zero tolerance” and that it only applies to something “physically provable on school grounds”.

I had one intervention where the super attendant of the school failed to realize that the time stamps used on Facebook indicated that the student was in school with the bully as the bullying occurred. This was a case of the school having its head firmly in the sand.

Having words like “Real” vs “Internet” life is making the issue worse. Children of the internet know that internet life can be just as damaging as their real life. The disconnect comes from the parents and supervisors who tend to pretend that what happens on the internet is not real at all, that somehow the things that happen emotionally and mentally aren’t an issue because they weren’t done face to face. These same parents are usually guilty of emotional abuse themselves because it is still a bit taboo to seek mental help for these problems.

Parents and supervisors need to have a training course to allow them to see just how damaging the internet can be to a real life. So should every person who thinks “oh, it’s the internet… I can say what I want!” Believe me, I am a moderator for a major website. I see this behavior all the time from people who wouldn’t say “boo” to someone face to face.

The behavior is destructive and vile. It goes unchecked by the authority figures that are supposed to protect the children because the authority figure cannot make the connect between what is real anymore. The world has passed them by, and this failing of the adult is deadly to the child suffering abuse.

Facebook bullyingThe solution is not simple, but it is direct. Besides training parents and supervisors to see the “real” life threat of Facebook bullying, there needs to be accountability for the bully, for the school teacher, and for Facebook. This is where just saying, “Hey we are too big to police” shouldn’t cut it. Instead of memorial groups for students who killed themselves, maybe the users of Facebook need to turn their sights on Facebook itself.

If Facebook’s ever-changing abuse of your privacy isn’t indication enough, they really don’t care about the person. They listen to the Money. If people boycotted Facebook; if they truly just shut their account down, then maybe Facebook would start behaving like it is part of the global community—one that protects the children and doesn’t help to exploit them.

In the end, Facebook is one of the bullies’ biggest friends. I think it’s about time we took a stand and showed Facebook where they can put the “like” button.



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