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Cyber bullying is a term use to refer to the incidence of the use words, pictures or other forms of communication on the Internet that are meant to harm or hurt another individual. The term mainly applies to such acts committed by children against other children (Hunter, 2012). Where the case involves adults, the term used will no longer be regarded as cyber bullying. It will instead be referred to as cyber harassment or cyber-stalking. Currently, there is no strict law in America barring the practice despite the fact that it has disastrous effects on the victims.
Cyber-bullied children end up committing murder or suicide in extreme circumstances. Other effects of the crime that are a bit mild and less harmful include the fact that these children will end up being withdrawn and consequently might drop out of school. There are opposing views as to whether the authorities should institute stiffer penalties on the offenders of this crime. Schools are seen to be the most efficient institutions in taming this vise but the law does not allow them to punish student misconduct that is committed out of the campus premises. So the question is, should there be laws in place to prevail on cyber bullying?
The current laws that are in place meant to tame cyber-bullying are insufficient. There are no particular laws made that empower the school administrations to act in response to cyber bullying committed outside school. Children have thus been left to the mercy of nature at the hands of rogue cyber bullies. The magnitude and extent of cyber bullying keeps growing with time and it is feared that in the next decade, significant damage will have been done on the children if appropriate laws are not put in place to tame the vice.
The law currently provides for and protects the freedom of speech and expression by students. It is entrenched in the main law of the land. This right however has to be used responsibly (Lipschultz, 2013). The question of how much is responsible is, however, an ambiguous one. It is not known how far freedom of expression should be allowed, especially with regard to child communications over the social media. In contrast, schools have their own set of rules that should be adhered to by students regarding their communication with each other. These rules vary from one school to another but share a common basis that communication ought to be respectful and full of regard for each other. That which cannot meet the minimum requirements for respect of the other students is thus deemed inappropriate and punishable.
While in school, cases of bullying of whatever kind is not there. The kind of respect that is ideal between students is upheld and dominant. It facilitates a good learning environment for all the students and gives them a sense of pride regardless of the social status of their backgrounds (Malik, 2010). The problem, however, is that school authorities are not allowed to continue their control of the children once they go out of school. This has been witnessed by the several lawsuits that parents and child rights movements have filed against school authorities for attempted intervention on the children’s’ life out of school. It is notable that in each instance, the cases are hinged on claims for freedom of speech. What these lobby groups and parents done appreciate is the fact that children are safer if kept under regulation on what to do and what not to do over the Internet. They focus too much on the short-term welfare of the children regarding freedom of speech and expression.
Technology has provided several untamed avenues that have become easy for cyber bullies to advance their evil agenda. These cover the areas of telephone conversations, and social media, which currently is the most abused form of communication leading in the cyber-bullying claims. Other forms include the use of anonymous Internet sites that the teens use to threaten and intimidate each other (Trolley, 2010). It is for a fact that there have been several cases where kids have had to commit murder or suicide after being subjected to extreme torment because of the above-mentioned crimes. The bad thing with cyberspace that makes it the worst avenue of bullying even more than the other forms of bullying is the fact that there is some sense of anonymity and little accountability on the part of the perpetrators that make them act that way. There is a sense of zero accountability since the comments; posts and photos posted on these sites do not first go through screening by any authority. This relative freedom has encouraged the criminals to do as they wish with regard to posting the bad content on the web.
In the next decade, America is likely to face serious cases of cyber bullying in the future. With the rapid and fast pace of technological growth and new forms of communication coming up, it is only commonsense to understand that the frequency of abuse will grow beyond the present status (Kelsey, 2014). It is also notable that several features of the growing communication platforms will make it easy for cyber-bullying to happen in the future. These avenues touch on the areas of the ease of sending and receiving items online that has become the norm in the present state of technology.
Communication is made easier by the fact that new inventions especially in the mobile telephony has come with better versions of technology that now allows people to send and receive images and videos easily. An example of the latest invention that allows people to don this is the WhatsApp technology, which enables people to share and post both photos and videos as well as send text communications. Since its invention and adoption, millions of cases where children have abused it and bullied their colleagues have been reported. It is also noted that the prevalence of such cases keeps rising with time. It is, therefore, common knowledge that in the next decade, things are going to get worse if proper laws are not put in place to tame the situation.
One reason why there should be strict laws regulating the use or abuse of the Internet communications platform is that the effects of the vise on the victims are too damning. They are not comparable to the infringement of the freedom of speech and expression that such laws will bring. For the sake of the safety of the children on the web, laws should be formulated to tame any errant behavior from anyone of them. It is a collective bargain for the government, parents, and school administrations to have a discussion and agree to limit the rights of the children on the net. The second reason why cyber-bullying should be tamed is that there are many cases of school dropouts or poor performance on the affected children. The level of intimidation and mental torture that the kids receive from the actions of the bullies is not healthy for the future society that will result from the generation (McQuade, Samuel & Colt, 2012).
A generation of bitter, resentful, and disobedient youths will eventually destroy the moral fabric of the society in the end. Psychologists attribute crime tendencies among the youth to the unbalanced emotions and resentful mindsets arising from cyber bullying. The third reason why legislators and other government policy makers need to draw their attention to illegally reducing the rights of children on the web is the fact that schools lack the capacity to administer discipline out of school. Government needs to empower the schools to monitor the students’ engagements online and solve any disciplinary issues that may arise therein. Schools are better placed since they have the students’ records and that students spend much of their time in the learning institutions than at home.
Children need to grow up in a free society for them to realize their identity. They need an open space where they can communicate and share with their fellow children. It is also important that children be given the chance to interact with other children all over the world in order for them to develop a better appreciation of the world societies, cultures and tap the flow of ideas as a result. The psychology of a child is such that at tender age, a person is very responsive and receptive to any ideas they encounter through hearing, sight, or experience. This justifies the reason as to why children should be allowed to communicate on the online platform under unlimited conditions. Finally, the presence of a regulator over the children’s interaction on the online platform will make them be too self-conscious and a result fear to air out what could be eating them up in their hearts. The occurrence of the latter unfortunate situation will lead the children to express their problems through other means such as; drug abuse, irresponsible sexual behavior among self-harming expressions, whose effects are worse off.
Internet communication can be good for children, only if it is practiced through proper means. Abuse of Internet communication is what has given rise to the occurrence of cyber-bullying. It has made the rogue children to grossly bully others and take advantage of their innocence. The government, In contrast, as well as the administrators of these online sites has not put enough measures to secure the safety of the children participants while on the web. This has contributed to the present sorry state of cyber-bullying.
In view of this, there is a need for government and other stakeholders to act responsibly and secure the children’s communication online. They need to empower school administrations to prevail on errant students who abuse cyber communication. Parents also need to act responsibly and support the schools in disciplining errant students. However, a more long lasting and sustainable solution to the crisis will be to introduce cyber bullying into the school curriculum and have the children taught the dangers of it as well as how to stay safe from it. The benefits drawn from legal intervention in taming the cyber communication among children far outweigh the benefits that freedom of expression would have brought, thus justifying the action to impose laws.
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