Cyberbullying is an epidemic and has snowballed rapidly among socially-networked teens. Add another item to the list of fears for parents of teenagers. Mean words that kids used to say to each other or spread via rumors behind locker doors have now evolved to texts, emails and Facebook wall posts.
Jason Medley, a father in Houston, experienced it firsthand when his middle school-aged daughter was the victim of a cyberbulling attack by three girls at her school. According to the Houston Chronicle, the girls filmed a video slandering Medley’s daughter and threatening to hurt her, and then posted it on Facebook. Medley, a lawyer, put his foot down and took action. First, he sent cease-and-desist letters to the girls’ parents demanding they stop their harassment and that each set of parents donate $5,000 to the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.
When he didn’t receive any response by the deadline he stated in the letter, he sued for “unspecified actual damages, costs and interest, and a ‘permanent injunction enjoining the Defendants from further threatening or defaming’ her.”
Medley told reporters that he is not trying to “make an example of cyberbullying,” but rather to “protect my daughter, not to make greater publicity over an even that was harmful to her.”
According to cyberbullying statistics from i-Safe Inc., 42 percent of kids have been bullied online; 35 percent have been threatened online and 58 percent admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. And the numbers are increasing.
These girls may have thought that it was harmless fun, but what they didn’t realize is that this is going to follow them for a long time. Although Medley had no intention of making an example of cyberbullying, I hope it does. And I hope that kids who think that cyberbullying or bullying of any kind is OK get the message loud and clear.
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