The parents of a 15-year-old girl recently went to court to get turned over to police the computer IP address for whoever created a fake Facebook page that made defamatory and sexually lewd comments about their daughter. While Facebook took down the page after the complaint, the internet service provider is still wrestling with whether they should be required to make public the name of those who are responsible. I think it's time we put some limits on the capacity of people to misuse social media, especially when it involves children.
Bullying isn't a single episode of a nasty comment. I'm not one to call 4-year-olds who poke each other bullies, nor am I one to call a scuffle on the playground assault and ask the police to investigate. But when one or more young people go out of their way to harass and demean another then it's time for us adults to intervene.
The problem with the internet isn't that it promotes bullying. My generation did as much bullying as kids today, maybe even more. The danger posed by the internet, however, is twofold. First, the one doing the bullying can be anonymous, and bullies are made stronger by their anonymity. No one can catch them which means they can act and take no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Second, in cyberspace, bystanders can number in the thousands. On the playground, an act of bullying might be seen by a few dozen children. On the internet, a child's self-concept is destroyed and witnessed by an entire community.