In general, I have really strong opinions about things. But I am not sure how I feel about the reports of online bullying of kids. On the one hand, kids need to be protected from sexual abuse and all that kind of stuff. On the other hand, is the online world better or worse than the regular world?

Here is what CNN is saying:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — As many as one in three U.S. children have been ridiculed or threatened through computer messages, according to one estimate of the emerging problem of cyberbullying.

 

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The frequency and severity of online aggression experienced by young people is the topic of new research.

Another new study found the problem is less common, with one in 10 kids reporting online harassment.

But health experts said even the lower estimate signals a growing and concerning public health issue.

“I wouldn’t consider something that 10 percent of kids report as low,” said Janis Wolak, a University of New Hampshire researcher and co-author of the second study.

Wolak and other researchers, though, found that in many cases the incidents of online harassment were relatively mild.

What they don’t say is how young the “kids” are and how bad the harassment is. Are they being harassed by kids or adults? Did anyone teach them how to reply or don’t reply? I’ve had a few really pesky obnoxious boys send me way too many IM’s or weird messages, but I just blocked them on my IM and my email.

Compare that 10% to this:

The schoolyard continues to be a source of in-person bullying: Studies indicate roughly 17 percent of early adolescents say they are victims of recurring verbal aggression or physical harassment.

One adult sent me two pictures of sexy ladies with blood all over them, through my facebook page. That was creepy and I blocked him, reported him, and told other people to stay away from him. That was at 15. I probably would have been more freaked out at 12 or 13, but that’s probably why I wasn’t allowed to get a facebook account until high school.

Sometimes online bullying can be very serious, like the case of the thirteen year old who was deceived by an adult and fell in love with a non-existent cute boy.

Last week, officials in a Missouri town made Internet harassment a misdemeanor, after public outrage over the suicide of a 13-year-old resident last year.

The parents of Megan Meier claim their daughter, who had been treated for depression, committed suicide after a teenage boy who flirted with her on MySpace abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he heard she was cruel. The story gained national prominence this month when it was revealed the boy never existed — it was a prank allegedly started by a mother in the girl’s neighborhood.

This was a HORRIBLE story, but the biggest problem is that the “prank” was done by an adult. A really immature and mean adult!

I think that the difference, at least for me, is whether the person doing the harassing is a kid or an adult. I know how to answer back, ignore or even punch kids who are mean or who tease. Online, I have “ignore” buttons and know how to block emails. But it’s much harder for me to be rude to an adult. I think that’s true for most kids and teens. and it is probably the reason that kids can be victims to molesters.

(Big Brother STOP reading. The rest if this is private. )

When I first started wanting to surf the internet, my brother gave me a limited account and he checked the sites I went to, the people on my buddy list, and even said he had the right to read my emails. I don’t use my last name online and don’t use my real photo. I was not allowed to do facebook or myspace until 9th grade.

I became politically active online in 8th grade and met adults from all over the world. My brother got extremely involved in my buddy lists and my emails, and I resented it, but I also know he was protecting me.

I complain a lot that I live with Big Brother from 1984, but when I read news stories about kids who were so deceived that they killed themselves, I am glad that my brother protected me from a lot of the internet hate, and in a few years I’ll probably be glad that my google and yahoo searches are restricted.

I am terrible at writing conclusions to essays. I have nothing to conclude here. Maybe just this. Kids can usually work out kid stuff with other kids, but I think it is OK for adults to restrict kids on the internet since you never know if the person on the other end of your chat is another kid or an adult impersonating a kid. And …. nobody should bully. If you are bullying or being mean, it is time to see a counselor and learn to be nice to other people.

I guess that was two conclusions. Oh well.

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