(L.A. Times High School Insider)


Opinion: Individuals should be prosecuted for cyberbullying

Bullies should be prosecuted for their remarks on social media to defend young innocent children and teens.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/averyywang/" target="_self">Avery Wang</a>

Avery Wang

July 13, 2022
Sirens ring as they pass by your house and approach your best friend’s house. Your heart stops as you walk out to the scene. The police enter, and a few moments later, they announce that a young girl is dead from hanging herself. Your heart drops. 

Every day young children and teens are cyberbullied and become permanently scarred with physical and emotional pain, causing them to want to harm themselves or even become suicidal. Therefore, it is clear that individuals who make such statements on social media should be fairly prosecuted for their actions to prevent victims from suffering such emotional and physical harm. 

The exact definition of cyberbullying from the Cambridge Dictionary is “the activity of using the internet to harm or frighten another person, especially by sending them unpleasant messages.” 

When young children and teenagers become victims of cyberbullying, they begin to believe that the only solution to escape their hopeless and painful situation is by taking their own lives. According to the Megan Meier Foundation, it has been reported that approximately 18% of the youth have done self-harming at least once, impacting 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys. Experts mention that the percentage is quickly increasing by about 30% since 1999 as more cases of cyberbullying are being reported. 

Additionally, the Meagan Meier Foundation states that the number of suicidal thoughts and attempts among adolescents has nearly doubled since 2008 due to cyberbullying. Suicide was considered the second leading cause of death for individuals from 10 to 34 years of age in 2017, giving about 1 in 20 adolescents committing suicide every year, according to the CDC

Many believe that cyberbullying is wrong; but, they may argue that prosecuting the offender is too much of a punishment. Yet young children are taking their own lives because of the poor decisions of cyberbullies. 

To ensure that individuals learn from their actions, fair prosecution is a solution. Punishments may include fines or community service for a set amount of hours. If the offender’s actions are more serious, the punishment may be increased and smaller actions can receive a more lenient penalty. Thus, without a reasonable punishment, young children and teenagers will continue to be impacted by cyberbullying, causing them to take their own lives. 

Furthermore, aside from suicide, victims of cyberbullying suffer from emotional and physical distress which, even if it doesn’t lead to suicide, results in much harm. Those who cyberbully tend to threaten their victim, causing them to develop depression, anxiety, loneliness and anger.

As the article written by bullying prevention expert Sherri Gordon shows, kids who have been cyberbullied tend to experience poor mental health with anxiety, fear, depression and low self-esteem and begin to have physical symptoms and suffer academically. It’s clear that the consequences of cyberbullying cause the target to suffer both emotionally and physically, sometimes to a severe degree. 

Gordon also explains that children who have been cyberbullied get headaches, stomachaches and other minor physical illnesses. Therefore, not only do the cyberbullies cause emotional harm to victims, but they also inflict physical pain on their victims. These facts indicate how adolescents may react and suffer from the several emotional and physical distresses experienced from cyberbullying, showing the range of negative impacts of this toxic behavior. 

Moreover, from the mental and physical distress caused, victims may begin to suffer in school. There is plenty of evidence that when students get bullied or cyberbullied, they tend to skip school to avoid needing to face their offender and embarrassment. Gordon indicates that victims of cyberbullying tend to have relatively higher rates of absences in school compared to non-bullied students. 

Cyberbullied students often skip school to avoid confrontation with the kids bullying them or to avoid being embarrassed or humiliated by the messages shared by the bully. Gordon explains that research also shows that students who get cyberbullied tend to drop out of school sooner or lose interest because of fear and embarrassment. However, even when avoiding school and not seeing their offender in person, they could still be targeted by social media; especially with advancing technology which allows spreading rumors and cyberbullying even easier for the offender.

Those who cyberbully should be prosecuted for the statements made on social media as they cause their victims to suffer and become physically and emotionally hurt. Setting a harsh punishment for those sending and making such remarks on social media and online would protect those who would get bullied online from mental and physical harm.

Moreover, it also allows those who suffer to be more comfortable going to school, therefore allowing them to learn and have a bright future. Clearly, bullies should be prosecuted for their remarks on social media to defend young innocent children and teens; one day it may be your child.