Cyberbullying vs. Free Speech | A Challenge for Parents

no-cyberbullyingI was researching the tragic story of a teenager who committed suicide last month after being cyberbullied (allegedly) and was taken aback by some of the comments left by readers of the story.

In the case at hand, 15-year old James Lock from South Wales was being relentlessly bullied on Facebook and perhaps other social media sites before taking his life. A 17-year old girl was arrested and admitted to having set up anonymous accounts and carrying out the cyberbullying. The police ended up letting her off with a warning.

The comment that got me thinking is the one below. Apparently there are people out there who are either just trying to get a reaction (trolls) or are such staunch supporters of free speech that they view what looks to us like cyberbullying as no big deal. The quote in question:

“Being offensive is not a crime. And long may that remain the case.

I am free to offend and free to be offended.

I have a spine, I do not cry to mummy because the bad man said something nasty to me.

If some daft welsh lad was victimised on FB, why the hell did he keep going onto it?

Surely if you do not like a place, you avoid it.

And who gives a damn what other people think? It is what you think that matters.

Why are [we] becoming a nation of cowardly crybabies, unable to fend for ourselves and so scared of speaking our minds in case we offend people that we do not speak at all?

I do not care who I offend, indeed, take pleasure at it, and am capable of ignoring criticism of those who dislike the fact that I hate political correctness.”

A number of commenters took issue with the above comment, but since this particular commenter had amassed 1728 comments via the Disqus comment platform alone, he’s probably happy to get the reaction he got. The fact of the matter is that the bully in this case got off with a warning, and that there are people out there that think it is just fine being a bully.

As a parent, you have to be the first line of defense for your kids online, and a steadfast resource for them in the case of them being victims of cyberbullying. In the event that the person targeting your teen has a mindset like the one quoted above, are you confident what course of events will take place, and that you will be part of the solution?


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