On December 17, news broke that Crofton House School in Vancouver is facing a lawsuit for allegedly failing to take action against relentless bullying. The lawsuit claims the victim was subject to homophobic and racist remarks, as well comments encouraging suicide, both at school and online. This incident has continued the conversation about how much social media fuels bullying.
One could argue that privacy was more valued before were were able to share every facet of our lives with thousands, or even millions of people. Children who were bullied at school were able to get a break at home, and bullies had to wait until the next day to restart their torture. Unfortunately, cyberbullying can happen at 24/7.
On the flip side, social media does give users the option to block and report anyone who is sending them inappropriate messages or photos. In fact, apps such as Tellonym and Yolo require the user to invite their friends to answer said user’s questions anonymously. While social media is an integral part of the way we now communicate, there are several ways to remove ourselves from negative situations stemming from certain platforms.
Let’s be clear: this is in no way victim shaming. Even if reported, social media platforms are not always quick remove the post or the account, if they do at all. It is imperative that cyberbullies be held accountable for their actions and that their parents take responsibility for teaching them to practice kindness and acceptance.. That being said, the block and report functions should be utilized by the victims as well as witnesses to any form of harassment.
Teenagers are keen to be on social media because it’s the best way to fit in. They can be up to speed on all the latest posts and will have something to contribute to the conversation with their peers the next day. Social media also gives them a chance to prove that they can be a part of whatever it is cool at that time, whether it be a fashion trend or eating tide pods.
Unfortunately, trying to fit in comes at a cost to those students who are bullied at school every single day. Today, not being on social media is the equivalent to sitting alone at lunch; nobody wants to feel isolated.
Essentially, children and teens are not always comfortable blocking their peers in fear of retaliation or being more isolated. We need to let our youth know that they shouldn’t be afraid to block people on social media, and that it’s perfectly fine to have fewer friends or followers. The solution is to go back to basics by punishing bullies and teaching all students how to resolve conflicts without lashing out online.
It won’t be easy; however, if our youth will be able to interact in a healthy and non-hostile way, it will have been well worth the effort.