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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Overreaction to cyberbullying not good: L.A. Times

This is interesting, in light of the recent "skank blogger" story in New York: "Overreaction to online harassment," an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. It makes a similar argument about prosecutors' "remedies" for bad behavior online that I've made for bad online behavior in school communities: that the solution is not some sort of new add-on to the curriculum or school life (or students' "real lives") called "online safety instruction" any more than the problem is just technology or the online environment. The Times argues that "if something's a crime in the physical world, it should be in the virtual one too. The problem is with prosecutors who think that transgressions are automatically magnified if they occur in cyberspace." I think this is a misconception so many adults have – that the problem is technology (that they don't fully understand), not behavior, as abhorrent as the behavior sometimes is. Technology can affect the equation (see "The Net effect"), but it's not the whole issue. The Times also refers to bad federal legislation that members of Congress introduce "when state law doesn't produce the results they seek," such as some pretty extreme cyberbullying cases in Missouri (see my recent post on the latest).

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Blogger Dr. Kris said...

I think another important aspect that makes technology-based ANYTHING more "dire" is that it is easier to accomplish in the first place. It's easier to bully someone remotely than to their face. It's easier to post an exaggerated claim about harming a school than it is to actually say it out loud. For that reason I think we should be paying extra attention to how cyberspace impacts our relationships with others and our social environment in general.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Agree, Kris - thanks for your comment. I think we need to alert our kids and students to this from day one. The big terms for this kind of instruction are "new media literacy" and "digital citizenship" (the flipside to an extent being anti-cyberbullying and aggression training). If we teach these from pre-K through 12th grade throughout the curriculum, I think we'll put a much bigger dent into these problems of human nature than any law ever could.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous CyberJeopardy said...

I agree completely, we need to reach our kids early on. Sadly they can become very desentized very quickly. Education as always is key.

9:46 AM  

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