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Teens on the Net - Are They Safe?

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Essay title: Teens on the Net - Are They Safe?

Teens On The Net – Are They Safe?

Ryan Halligan is remembered by many people, and is used as an example during public speeches at junior and high schools throughout the country. Ryan chose to end his life when he was thirteen years old because his mind could see no other alternative. The years before he took his life were filled with schoolmates bullying him in a face to face situation. With a slight learning disability, Ryan worked hard to stay out of Special Education classes while attending the neighborhood school. Even with all his hard work Ryan was different than his peers and they made sure to remind him of that daily. When Ryan entered the 8th grade the bullying took on a new form; his classmates began utilizing the internet to harass, embarrass, and depress him. Though Ryan repeatedly tried talking to his parents about his problems and asking to be transferred to another school, it reached deaf ears. Ryan’s parent’s thought of bullying as a normal aspect and stepping stone in the growing up process. John Halligan, Ryan’s father, realized too late that he had not paid enough attention to Ryan’s cries for help (If We Only Knew, 2003). It was only after his death that John Halligan began going through Ryan’s private internet items such as the instant messaging, his profile on Myspace, and other chat rooms that Ryan had entered. John Halligan learned of how other children befriended his son over the internet and then publicly humiliated Ryan by copying and pasting anything private that Ryan shared to others at his school. Ryan had thought he made a couple of real friends but instead he was hit with cyber bullying of the worst kind. Depressed and embarrassed Ryan could cope with, but being completely humiliated to an unknown number of people online Ryan could no longer deal with living. Ryan committed suicide on October 7, 2003 at the age of 13 (If We Only Knew, 2003). Teenagers are notorious for finding trouble wherever they go. However, with the internet, trouble has not been realized to the fullest extent. Bullying, harassment, and depression are increasing in cyber space amongst our teens. As a society, we need to begin thinking of ways to help our future teens from becoming victims of cyber misuse.

Before the internet, children were bullied on a face-to-face type of scenario by another child. The act itself, though wrong, is dealt with by the one being bullied; mostly because only a limited number of people witnessed the events and when it ended, the bullying was done. With cyberspace, to bully teenagers along with any other aged children, the bullying does not stop with the incident. Instead, it continues and the amount of people who witness the bullying is farther than the eye can see. When a child purposely harasses, embarrasses, or torments another child they are bullying that child. When a child uses a different form of technology such as the internet, instant messaging, blogging, cell phones, and chat rooms to harass, torment, or embarrasses another child that is known as cyber bullying (Stop Cyberbullying, 2003). Ryan Halligan lost control of his depression when the other children turned to the internet to continue harassing him.

The different ways to bully an adolescent via the internet is massive; Trojan horses are used to control the victimized child’s computer by erasing the hard drive. Impersonating as the mistreated child on different chat sites in an attempt to create a fight with complete strangers and then giving out the name and address of the victimized child (Fuchs, 2008). Creating polls for other children to vote on such as who is the biggest slut, or who is the stupidest kid in the local school. Blogging is a new technical form of journaling that allows friends and family to read what a child writes on a website that the adolescent has created. Sometimes a teenager will retaliate against another by writing mean and often-fictitious information about another adolescent (Kowalski, Limber, Agatston, Limber, Agatson, 2008).

Bullying can never be blocked completely in real time or on the internet; but, what adults can try and do is limit the amount of bullying being done today with the use of technology. By remaining an active icon in the teenager’s cyber world, in addition to communicating with adolescents on the consequences of such enormous negative activities, cyber bullying would diminish immensely amongst our teenagers (Beane, 2008).

Megan Meier was another victim of cyber bullying and worse. Megan ended her life on October 16, 2006 after the cyber bullying moved into cyber-harassment. Cyber-harassment is when an adult begins bullying an adolescent (Stop Cyberbullying, 2003). Megan’s story is one that many have heard about throughout our country and other nations. When Megan Meier began receiving cruel messages

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