The lives of young people---from my perspective these days, that would be anyone under the age of 40, but, on a more general basis I mean people of high school age and younger---in 2013 are dominated by computer-based communications systems. Nearly all communications today could be said to be computer-based. A call from a rotary-dial telephone goes through a computer somewhere, instead of simple wires that lead to the Mayberry switchboard. By computer-based communications, I mean messages on the internet or similar media. Once source defines "cyberbullying": "Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles." (stopbullying.gov)
That same source notes that in 2008-09, six percent (6%) of students in grades 6-12 experienced cyberbullying. (National Center for Education Studies and Bureau of Justice Statistics.) "The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year. Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids' technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends."
Also, it is difficult to derive meaningful numbers when a lot of kids are reluctant to tell their parents about cyberbullying or flip out their "tablet" and show their folks some disgusting photoshopped image someone created that fuses the kid's face with a body from an on-line porn flick. Kids presumably are at least as reluctant as we were in the late 1960s and early 1970s to inform our parents of being bullied. If there weren't blood and bruises---over signs of being bullied---there was no reason, necessarily to say anything. The impact was great on some kids back then. Now?
An analogy was made last evening. A person described 200 or 300 students with computers as comparable to the same 200 or 300 kids cut loose in a high school gym with no supervision.
There are solutions recommended. The most extreme would be government to monitor kids' communications on the internet. That occurs to some degree, when a student uses a school computer. When a student is on the premises of a school, I think the school, acting in loco parentis, has the authority and responsibility to monitor students---nearly all of whom are minors---in their communications while at school.
There is a problem, though, when the kids leave school grounds and are on their own electronic "devices." The First Amendment, various other provisions of the United States Constitution that have been construed as creating a right to privacy, and the right to be left alone by government all would indicate the school's authority ends at 3:25 (or whatever time school lets out) and the kids' departure from school property (unless the kids are in a school-related activity like a game or tournament, show, etc.).
This week we shall stream "live" from Lil Peanut Productions at 735 North Lynhurst to discuss cyberbullying, means by which the problems can be addressed, and the limits of such means---both logistically and constitutionally. Our guests will include Bruce Canal and Susan Canal, owners of Social Net Watcher, and Sergeant John Akers of the Indianapolis Public Schools, Shortridge Middle School. We start at 11 am and go to 1 pm.