“Whore”, “slut”, “scared snitch.” These are just a few of the more innocent messages senior Nicole Edgington began to receive on her 17th birthday. Her phone was being flooded with threatening text messages and Facebook messages from her peers and she had no idea why,
Message like these are ones Nicole and thousands of other teens are sent and forced to deal with over their devices.
The messages went as far as stating a plan for Nicole to be attacked at an In-N-Out Burger. Luckily, she avoided the interaction, but her devices made it seemingly impossible to avoid the hurtful messages.
It wasn't until about two weeks later that Nicole found some sort of an answer to why this was happening to her. A group of teens whom she did not know had deemed her as the “snitch” who turned them in for drinking to authorities, which she had never done, and began to put her tormenting into place. Online platforms made these teenager's jobs easy.
Nicole’s life was flipped upside down. She lost friends, was constantly in a position to be put down through her devices, and every day had to decide if the people next to her were just whispering about her or were apart of the group texting her the cruel words. Her family was distraught about the situation. When the issue was brought to the school for them to take action on the situation, all the school could do was “offer their condolences.” Except Nicole wasn't dead, instead she was being bullied on Internet platforms.
It was up to Nicole to turn the situation around, which luckily she did by deleting apps and ignoring messages. But many teenagers who go through similar experiences don't have the strength to do so. 4,500 teenagers commit suicide each year because of cyber-bullying.
If you ever heard a phrase like “you’re fat” in a school, you would likely see the perpetrator get a trip to the principle's office, risking possible detentions or suspensions. But when such thing is said on a social media platform, no action is taken to punish the offender. 25% of teenagers can vouch for the lack of help they've received when they have had hurtful things written to them over the Internet or their cellphones.
Harassment over the Internet on social media platforms has began to take it's toll on teens. (Scholastic)
Enough is enough. Bullies hiding behind a screen is simply no longer acceptable. Just because no one is there to immediately reprehend their ill thought actions, doesn't mean there shouldn't be a consequence. The issue at hand is that there is no “right” protocol, which is the root of state/federal court’s problems. When they receive extreme cases of cyber-bullying that get the chance to be heard, the rulings contradict one another because they are all issuing out different punishments.
It's time for higher authorities to take their place in this issue. The laws about violence make it clear that you should never throw a punch. What if laws could do the same thing with writing mean messages? Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram should be monitoring not just public pictures, but the exchanges that go down in private posts and messages.
Harassers like to make people feel isolated, like they’re completely alone, and social media outlets allow for this to happen. But while they might be reading the mean comments or messages alone, 55% of teenagers are witnessing the bullying. This new form of bullying has taken the bystander situation to a whole new extreme. It's an obligation to report when you see physical violence between peers, it should be the same obligation if you see teenagers tormenting others on the online platforms.
A great portion of teens' social media are flooded with degrading comments that they are forced to read on their own.
It's time for us to clean up our acts. No filter can fix the lack of support victims of online bullying are receiving. The constant situations of furious words being thrown at one another on social media can disappear if the law gets involved to help, and if social media platforms provide support to victims even before the bullying gets out of hand. It's time we swipe past this issue and fix it once and for all.