Apophenia: Cyber bullying and solutions to helping kids

3 December 2008 — Leave a comment

One of the many great blogs that I regularly read is that of Dana Boyd. She posted at the weekend about the outcomes of the Lori Drew trial in the USA. For those who might not remember, wikipedia explains:

Megan Meier was an American teenager… who committed suicide in October 2006. Her suicide was attributed to cyber-bullying through the social networking website MySpace. The account through which the bullying took place purportedly belonged to a 16-year-old male named “Josh Evans,” but was actually created and monitored by the mother of a former-friend of Meier, whom a police report identified as Lori Drew.

In her lengthy post, Dana covers some of the themes around the trial and draws out the issues of cyber-bullying amongst young people.

This is where technology comes into play. Bullying probably has not increased because of the Internet, but it’s visibility to adults definitely has. Kids have long been bullied by peers at school without adults ever knowing. Now adults can see it. Most adults think that this means that the Internet is the culprit, but this logic is flawed and dangerous. Stifling bullying online won’t make bullying go away; it’ll just send it back underground. The visibility gives us an advantage. If we see it, we can work with it to stop it.

I totally agree with this statement. When things are out in the open, it is far easier to deal with the consequences. One of solutions Dana proposes to the problem of bullying online is the introduction of online youth workers. She states:

The most important thing that we need are digital street workers.

I was going to link to some of the discussions about online detached work going on over at YouthWorkOnline, but after scrolling down the comments on Apophenia, I noticed our vary own Tim Davies has already posted some responses to this theme. Check out detached.youthworkonline.org.uk for more.

I highly recommend you check out the full post over at Dana’s blog before clicking some of the links posted in the comments.


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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