Crime Online, bullying in cyberspace
While bullying is an age-old problem for students, technology such as social media and text messaging has given children, teens and even adults new opportunities to pick on one another.
Cyberbullying and cyberstalking are perhaps the most commonly reported crimes at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, with at least one case reported almost daily, says Det. James Marsh.
When it comes to cyberbullying, the majority of cases originate on social media pages, particularly Facebook.
“Cell phones and the Internet have made it very dangerous for kids today. Kids feel so comfortable with those cells phones that they don’t understand that you can’t do something across the Internet that you’re not allowed to do to somebody in person,” he said.
Some social media sites that allow anonymity, such as Facebook, are part of the reason for much of the cruelty among children and teens online.
The majority of cyberbullying cases Marsh has investigated involved teenage girls, many of whom created a Facebook page masquerading as another girl to spread rumors.
He’s even seen instances when parents were antagonizing rivals of their own children on social media.
“There have been cases nationwide where kids have committed suicide over this type of thing,” he said.
Superintendent of Haywood County Schools, Anne Garrett, said that while she has investigated few instances of cyberbullying among students, she understands the extent of emotional damage it can cause.
"A lot of times, bullies can hide behind Facebook and it’s not as visible for you to actually confront the tormentor, I don’t think. If you’re being bullied it’s hard to figure out who is bullying you online," she said.
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