In this social media-centered world, bullying stories easily come up each day. One father of a teenage victim of cyber bullying stands up to online bullies through a powerful video posted on Youtube.
Racially-Charged Messages of Cyberbullies
Snapchat has been a popular and convenient app in documenting and quickly sharing photos with one’s friends. What makes many feel safe in the app is how one user can set a specific number of seconds for the picture to be seen which will expire after exactly 24 hours since it was posted. However, it has also been a tool for ill-intentioned cyber trolls to send hateful messages to their chosen victims.
The adoptive parents, Bradley and Wendy Knudson, of 14-year-old Deirdre at the time were horrified to know their child has been sent various racist messages from some freshman brothers who went to the same high school with the girl. This reverberates to the Knudsons since they personally knew a teenager who recently committed suicide also because of cyber bullying.
That is why by the third and fourth time, Bradley has decided to speak up once and for all and not tolerate this behavior from the kids. He posted a six-minute video detailing what happened, from the messages to the voice mail of the bullies’ father, which then went viral in social media in 2015.
Prior to calling out the bullies on the video, Bradley defended his daughter through notifying the police, the school and the bullies’ parents on what the online harassers are saying to Deirdre. However, instead of apologizing, the father of the bullies defended the actions of his sons and even called Bradley a “loser” through the voicemail. At this point, Bradley decided to take the matter where it started – in social media.
Wendy, Deirdre’s mother, says, “Parents need to stand up for their children.” The Knudsons are now aiming to help stop racism and cyberbullying; they even plan to make a local support group especially for the peers of Deirdre and their families.
Awareness of Cyberbullying is Vital
The rise of digital culture has brought many opportunities for easier communication and endless information. At the same time, it has brought a veil for users to stay anonymous and feel free to spread hateful messages.
No one is immune; regardless of gender, age, race, social position and whatnot, anyone can be a victim with some bullying stories on their sleeves. However, women, teenagers, and those who are part of the LGBTQ community are more prone to becoming targets.
Just because it happens in the digital world does not mean it does not affect people in real life. As more people talk about it, the more we can realize how serious the situation is. As a starter, there are basic things to know about cyberbullying.
Like Deirdre, the cyber bullies of most teens are someone they know personally. A survey from the American Sociological Association conducted from 800 students in the 8th to 12th grade suggests cyberbullying is more likely to occur from “current or former friends” and “dating partners.”
At the same time, adults are just as vulnerable to online harassment. According to an estimate by the Department of Justice, 850,000 adults are targeted by internet trolls while 40 percent out of all of them are women who are sexually harassed online.
This is alarming since cyberbullying can have a lasting effect on the victim. A person’s psychological health will be affected with the feeling of powerlessness, depression, and low esteem according to a 2014 study.
Bullying stories can be found in every corner of the digital world. It is about time for a collective effort, from individuals to the federal government, to take action and take this matter more seriously.