Let’s Talk About It — Bullying over the Internet is easier than in person

May 27, 2014

By Jacob Brunette

Jacob Brunette Issaqauh         High School

Jacob Brunette
Issaqauh
High School

Students at Issaquah High School pride themselves on their kindness and the inclusive atmosphere of their school. Yet, in the few instances where IHS makes the national news, it always seems to be for something that totally contradicts that positive self-image: Racist tweets directed toward students at Garfield High School or the sexist “May Madness” competition are the two major examples that come to mind.

And while Issaquah certainly has the most prominent profile in that regard, neither Skyline, Liberty, nor Eastside Catholic is free of bullying either. The question is, how can schools that pride themselves on being friendly, welcoming places still be host to such negative behavior?

A major explanation comes in the rise of social media. While the stereotypical view of bullying is that of bullies beating up kids for lunch money, in reality, that hasn’t been accurate for a long time.

“The most common concern we see is the online component,” Timothy Krieger, assistant principal at Issaquah High School, said about bullying. “While they are actually at school, almost all students experience the inclusive atmosphere that our schools so pride themselves on. It is Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet where the darker elements of high school culture now appear.”

The reason for this shift is the same as the reason for a lot of shifts in our culture over the past decade or two: Technology makes a lot of things easier, including bullying someone else.

“It’s more easily done than face-to-face harassment,” Krieger said about online bullying. “It’s easier to hide behind a computer.”

Posting something hurtful on the Internet requires a lot less courage than saying the same thing to someone’s face, and that ease allows some students to say things online that they would never dream of saying in person.

The result is “May Madness” and racist tweets. And while the vast majority of high school culture is much more positive than these incidents’ publicity would suggest, that does not lessen the impact of such actions. Students have to remember that even though they are typing things into a computer, they are still talking to real people, and they need to act as they would in person. Students at Issaquah High School pride themselves on their kindness and the inclusive atmosphere of their school. Yet, in the few instances where IHS makes the national news, it always seems to be for something that totally contradicts that positive self-image: Racist tweets directed toward students at Garfield High School or the sexist “May Madness” competition are the two major examples that come to mind.

And while Issaquah certainly has the most prominent profile in that regard, neither Skyline, Liberty, nor Eastside Catholic is free of bullying either. The question is, how can schools that pride themselves on being friendly, welcoming places still be host to such negative behavior?

A major explanation comes in the rise of social media. While the stereotypical view of bullying is that of bullies beating up kids for lunch money, in reality, that hasn’t been accurate for a long time.

“The most common concern we see is the online component,” Timothy Krieger, assistant principal at Issaquah High School, said about bullying. “While they are actually at school, almost all students experience the inclusive atmosphere that our schools so pride themselves on. It is Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet where the darker elements of high school culture now appear.”

The reason for this shift is the same as the reason for a lot of shifts in our culture over the past decade or two: Technology makes a lot of things easier, including bullying someone else.

“It’s more easily done than face-to-face harassment,” Krieger said about online bullying. “It’s easier to hide behind a computer.”

Posting something hurtful on the Internet requires a lot less courage than saying the same thing to someone’s face, and that ease allows some students to say things online that they would never dream of saying in person.

The result is “May Madness” and racist tweets. And while the vast majority of high school culture is much more positive than these incidents’ publicity would suggest, that does not lessen the impact of such actions. Students have to remember that even though they are typing things into a computer, they are still talking to real people, and they need to act as they would in person.

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