I read an article yesterday that disturbed me. Do you remember the news last year about the task force appointed to look into the problem of online sexual predators? Apparently the threat isn’t as big as once thought. Or is it? That task force released a report yesterday stating the problem of bullying – both online and offline – presents a larger threat than sexual predators. If you recall, MySpace and Facebook were thrown into the light with the fear that social networks such as these harbored sexual predators. Many popular perceptions of online danger were heavily fueled by the media. Certainly the trouble hasn’t just disappeared, so where lies the truth? The report states that the only online predator cases that exist explain the children and teenagers were already at risk – being troubled by depression, drug abuse, or problems at home.
How much difference exists between these issues? If you think about it, both problems are predatory in nature. Situations of either sort have ended tragically. One could easily turn into the other. It is sad to consider we live in a world where the issue of online sexual predators and pedophiles waiting to pounce on innocent children takes a back burner to the increasing problem of bullying.
I remember bullying when I was younger. Kids are not nice, and they have become more brutal every day. Thanks to the advances in technology these bullies can do their thing all on their own, without assistance from their friends to taunt and tease. All they need is a cell phone or a computer and they are fully armed. You’ve seen the headlines; children (and in some cases, their parents) taunt and tease unrelentingly, causing these kids to commit suicide to ease their pain.
If you think bullying exists only in schools… you’re wrong. These bullies grow up – and if not corrected, continue their abusive behavior in the workplace. They take their hate and contempt through every part of their life, online and offline. They park on social networking sites, blogs, forums, chat rooms, and easily become comfortable in the practice known as trolling. This doesn’t mean all trolls are predators, but the behavior strikes an alarming similarity.
Are you being bullied? Don’t just sit there and take it – report it! Nobody will think you are a wimp or a baby. Go to your parents, a teacher, your boss, or an adult you trust that would do the right thing. If you know of someone who is being bullied, don’t assume that it’s all in good fun or the person can take care of themselves. You just might be wrong.
Have you been bullied? Share your success stories with us so others may learn from your difficulties and find strength to fight back.