Text Message Bullying On the Rise
Bullying was always a secretive art. The bully intimidated the weakest kid, the one he or she knew would not stick up for themselves by hitting back or speaking up, oftentimes in a isolated place with no potential eye witnesses. The secrecy continues in the digital age with what might be an even more psychologically lethal weapon of secrecy. Texting.
Texting makes bullying easy. One glance at the screen and flash, the arrow strikes at the heart with immediacy. The deprecating vitriol sinks deep within its target. The victim's urge is to quickly delete the malevolence, forget it ever existed to staunch the emotional bleed. Click, they wipe the filth from the screen. But soon another hateful message comes hard and fast on the heels of the first. And then what does one do? Respond? To whom? Such texts are anonymous. So oftentimes, as the initial texts are deleted, it becomes a problem for authorities because saved messages are evidence whose syntax and word choice in certain expert minds eventually yields up the predator or group of predators.
For the police investigating the cases of Jamie Rodemeyer and Phoebe Prince, the messages provided crucial evidence to bring to justice the bullies who hate texted Jamie and Phoebe into taking their own lives. One would think that those incidents and others like them would lead to a moratorium on such behaviors by furthering tolerance education in schools.
But it hasn't. An increasing percentage of U.S. kids say they have been hate texted, and there has been no decrease in online harassment, researchers reported Monday, according to Reuters. In a 2008 survey of 1,100 middle school and high school students, 24 percent said they had been text "harassed" by someone, a 10 % increase over the previous year. The kids' definition of harassment included the following behaviors: spreading rumors about them, making rude or mean comments, threatening them. Outright bullying, defined as incessant harassment was less common, but there was a 2 % increase in 2008 from the previous year: eight percent of kids said they'd been text bullied incessantly.Continued on the next page