To tackle cyber bullies, start with teen self esteem
The bullying epidemic has claimed yet another victim: 14-year-old bubbly, fresh-faced Chanelle Rae.
Rae’s funeral took place in Geelong on Friday, exactly one week after the high school student took her own life hours after reading a message on the internet.
We will never know what that message said, but we can guess at the kind of person that sent it.
I’m 22, a Gen-Yer, who was unfortunate enough to be going through high school right smack bang at the time the “virtual friendship” world exploded. I too was cyber-bullied, and come to think of it, I don’t remember anyone who wasn’t.
Sites at the time like Myspace, Geocities and chat engines like MSN, made it easy for teens to unleash a whole heap of pent up aggression onto unsuspecting victims. Shamelessly grinding away at already fragile self-esteem in a bid to make themselves feel good. Sad really.
Bullies have always been considered cowards, there’s nothing new about that. Cyber bulling however, has created a new faceless monster that preys on the weak in the sanctuary of their own home.
There isn’t much we can do about the problem. Taking away the anonymity of the internet wont fix it, because bullies will always find another avenue of attack.
Stories like Rae’s highlight the need to develop more methods to teach teens how to deal with bullies, along with ways of improving their self esteem.
Bullies prey on the weak and the vulnerable, and if teens are taught ways of strengthening their self esteem instead of relying on peer approval to feel validated, maybe, just maybe we can breed a generation immune to the sting of the school yard bully.
Of course, I’m no idealist, and I’m well aware that at no matter what age we still crave to be liked. But think back to your teens - was there ever a time when your happiness was totally dependent on what Joe Blow or Mary Smith thought of your new haircut? Didn’t think so.
We can’t stop bullies, but we can take their arsenal away from them, and if a teens fractured self-esteem is what keeps a bully going, then repairing that shaky self image should be the first point of call.
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