Arrest exposes cyber bullying: Recent case in Upper Darby shows harassment still a problem

By Natalie Crawford
February 9, 2011

Bullying can leave a detrimental mark on a person’s life. No matter what race, gender, body type, age you are, bullying can find a way to affect all different shapes and sizes. It knows no boundaries.

One of the most recent extreme cases in the Philadelphia region was at Upper Darby High School on Jan. 31. Philadelphia police arrested six teenagers for kidnapping a 13-year-old student. They followed him on his way home from school, dragged him on the ground and hung him by his jacket on a 7-foot-high fence.

This case is still under investigation as to what the motive was for this act.

One out of four teens are bullied everyday and it has not gotten better over the years. In this day and age, it has reached the point as an all-time high. One of the most popular ways to bully now is through cyber bullying.

“I think it’s gotten worse in the past ten years because we are such a technologically-savvy culture. So there is cyber bullying now and in the past it wasn’t something that you had to deal with. It was mostly face-to-face confrontation in the past. Now everything is via internet and text. Even things that are on YouTube, it may not be verbal but it’s physical abuse,” Jessica Skovronski, senior psychology major, said.

Cyber bullying is the deliberate intention to torment another person through text messaging, Facebook, instant messaging, websites and videos. Technology can be used in some of the best ways possible, but for bullies, this is the perfect way to harass someone and be anonymous at the same time.

It’s the easy way out of bullying, no face-to-face confrontation.

Bullying can become so severe, even in school, that students feel like they cannot attend, for fear that he will be tormented.

“It’s possible that if it gets bad enough in schools, students may drop out because they don’t want to be in that environment anymore. They’re afraid to go back to school because they think it’s going to keep happening the more they’re in school. So they in a sense go into hiding by not going to school. Something definitely needs to be done about it,” Stephanie Strassel, senior psychology major, said.

The college’s code of conduct strictly enforces policies that students, faculty and staff cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age or economic status. These are most of the subjects that bullies would target to make fun of someone.

“There are absolutely cases at Cabrini. We see it all the time in the counseling center and we see both sides. We work with kids that have been bullied their whole life and they may think it will end in college, but it doesn’t,” Sara Maggitti, licensed psychologist and Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said.

Maggitti and the other psychological counselors at the college collaborate together to develop methods to find out how bullying can be stopped at the school and what may cause students to bully.

Recently, more colleges have updated their federal mandate laws considering what has happened with college students being bullied. One of the biggest tragedies was this past September. A student that attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide due to his roommate videotaping him having sexual relations with another man and streaming it on the internet.

“The victims have more psychological effects than the bully does. The victims can hurt themselves or commit suicide if it gets bad enough. If they hear mean comments about themselves so much, they actually start to believe it and they can go into depression or start to get mental disorders. It can go the other way as well. The bully could have so much guilt realizing what they’ve done, that they may start to become depressed from their actions,” Strassel said.

Another reason students bully is to be accepted by the popular kids.

“Some bullies want to make a name for themselves to be popular. They want to be out there and not hidden like the kids that they bully. Teens bully so that they can avoid being bullied,” Nick Kaminski, senior psychology major, said.

Putting a stop to bullying is a huge challenge because it’s not just in schools. It can be in the work place and in the home environment as well. There are websites and hotlines for those who are victims that serve as a safe haven.

“People need to realize and watch what they say around certain people. You never know who is listening and you don’t know who your going to hurt or what can happen in the future,” Strassel said.

Victims can go to http://stopcyberbullying.org and

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Natalie Crawford

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