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Since Tyler Clementi’s suicide last year, the public has become more aware of the dangers of the Internet and invisible bullies online. However, cyberbullying is not new and has in fact been a reason for many suicides of teenagers all around the country.
In an original movie aired on ABC Family on Sunday, July 17, Cyberbully stars Emily Osment playing Taylor Hillridge, a high school student who is pushed to the edge when she becomes a victim of online bullying while visiting a popular social media site.
At first Hillridge joins the site as a way to flirt with her high school crush but turns into a nightmare when a new boy, James, befriends her. As Hillridge talks to James, indulging private matters, James turns on her and spreads a rumor that he slept with her and contracted an STD. From there the rumors continued and caused more pain to young Taylor.
She tried to handle the problems by herself but slowly she lost her two best friends and started skipping school. Like some cyberbullying incidents, Hilridge attempted to take her life by drug overdose. However, before she tried, she posted a video on the social site with a simple message:
“Everyone hates me. Now I hate myself. I am done talking, done breathing, done with it all.” Luckily, one of her best friends saw the video in time, called Taylor’s mother and the police, and was able to prevent the attempted suicide. Though she was stopped from overdosing, the troubles only got worse. Her classmates learned about the incident and continued to mock and ridicule her.
As her mother tries to take legal action against the cyberbullies, she faces the harsh reality that the police cannot do anything unless the actions were physical. She also tries to talk to her state senator, hoping to raise awareness to cyberbullying and try to pass a law about the dangers of online activity.
Unfortunately, the senator does not want to deal with the Internet. He declines saying, “No one is forcing these teens to go online and it is a freedom of speech.”
Like many cyberbullying cases, this movie touches on the factors of online abuse including rumors, suicide and realization there is no legislative help to stop and punish the bullies.
Since September 2010, many celebrities have taken a stand against cyberbullying. There have been television shows and movies regarding the topic. Many individuals have also started campaigns and organizations in hopes to stop the abuse. With all the media around digital abuse, there still seems like there is no way out. Bullying continues amongst teenagers in the digital world.
As technology evolves and the access to the internet becomes easier and faster, cyberbullying will also increase. In my opinion, I believe the best method to stop cyberbullying altogether is for companies behind technology and internet search engines, like Apple, Windows, and Google, to stand up and bring awareness.
However, they must do more than just create products or applications, they need to use their power to influence legislation that there needs to be a nation-wide law passed that has teeth and no loopholes. In other words, the law needs to be useable and enforced, taking into account many factors. If these big companies start persuading senators, then the efforts of organizations, celebrities, and individuals will have an impact. Unless these companies join the fight, there will be no stopping online abuse.
Image Courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/CyberbullyMovie