Speaking of cyberbullying cases, Two Canadian youngsters, both eighteen years of age, face serious charges in one of the tragic cyberbullying cases. The as-of-yet unidentified young men stored and distributed digital images of a young teen girl’s gang rape, prompting her to take her own life.
In this story, Rehtaeh Parsons was gang-raped by four teenagers when she was fifteen years old. Her family notes that she found it impossible to fully recover from the incident, but what made it worse was the fact that photos were taken during the event and then shared with local young people online via social media.
One of the young men involved in passing the images on to others faces charges of making and distributing child pornography, while the other defendant involved faces charges of distributing child pornography. This is seriously one of the worst Cyberbullying cases.
Sexual cyber-stalking expert Danielle Citron notes that cases of this nature are becoming more and more commonplace. She notes that social media makes it all too easy for young people to share graphic images with their friends with near impunity. What is more, law enforcement officials are often behind the times when it comes to prosecuting young cyber bullies.
Nova Scotia, the Canadian province where the two teen defendants are being tried, recently passed new laws specifically targeting young people who bully their peers online. This new law makes it possible for a bullying victim to sue those who assaulted him or her over the internet. Furthermore, the parents of the cyber bullies involved can be held liable if the bullies are underage.
Cyberbullying Cases: What Does it Mean for Parents?
The Rehtaeh Parsons cyber bullying story makes it very clear the need for parents to be involved in their child’s or teen’s use of social media. Facebook (and other similar social media sites) stipulate that children younger than 13 are not permitted to sign up, a regulation that is commonly flouted by young children but should in fact be adhered to. Don’t let your children become one of those cyberbullying cases.
Before a youngster starts using social media, his or her parents should explain the responsibilities and dangers involved. Young people should realize that what they say, post, like, share and/or comment on can have serious ramifications. Teenagers should be made to understand that others, like them, have feelings and bullying someone online could very well result in this person experiencing depression, anxiety and/or even taking his or her life.
Moral considerations aside, young people should also understand the legal ramifications of cyber bullying. Sharing a nude or even semi-nude image of an underage person can result in child pornography charges. In the United States, being found guilty of such charges will result in a person’s name being listed on the sex offender’s register and will have a serious impact on where a teenager can study, what type of career he or she can pursue or even where one can live.
Naturally, Nova Scotia parents will want to take into account the fact that they can be held to blame if their teenage son or daughter is involved in online bullying. Most parents do not want to “snoop” on their child’s social media activity, as they feel it is a breach of a young person’s privacy. However, parents must now take into account the fact that they are legally liable for what a teenager posts and/or shares online.
More on Cyberbullying Cases below…
Parents should set clear ground rules regarding a young person’s use of social media. It is important for a young person to understand that parents have the right to request that a youngster refrain from making certain types of comments and/or sharing certain types of photos. What is more, failure to adhere to these rules should result in social media privileges being suspended.
Rehtaeh Parson’s tragic story and other stories like it bring to light the importance of providing a solid moral foundation to children at a young age. As children get older, they should be taught that the things they say and do online can have very serious, real world ramifications. As many young people are learning the hard way, bullying someone online is not “fun and games” and should never be treated at such. Parents should also realize the ease with which a child can either become an online aggressor or a victim of such aggression and take steps to ensure that social media is used in a safe, appropriate manner at all times.