Clearly it is time to take a stand together against the role social media plays in cyberbullying and put a stop to it. Last week, 10-year old Ashawnty Davis died after being kept on life support following a suicide attempt. The fifth grader confronted another student outside of school who had been bullying her and later found out the encounter was posted on Musical.ly. It was this discovery that made life unbearable for her. Overwhelmed by the embarrassment of the fight being exposed to a much wider group of people than the group of her peers who recorded the incident, little Ashawnty decided to hang herself in her family’s closet.
Between 2007 and 2014, the number of suicides among children between the ages of 10 and 14 has doubled. And without even searching for numbers to see what we are looking at for 2017, I know these numbers have increased. Unfortunately, there has not been very much research performed on this particular group, because most of the research has been older teens.
I am amazed at how much the world has changed since I was a child. When I was a child, I recall having a fight with my best friend. We were 9 years old and planned to take a walk as far away from our homes as possible, to have privacy while scrapping at the playground. On top of that, only a few select people who we believed we could trust were allowed to tag along. There weren’t any camera phones or video cameras. Just two little girls who had had their fill of each other. However, if the fight were recorded with me losing, then posted on an app which grew increasingly popular by the minute, I would have been devastated.
There are no rules when it comes to social media. If you are out doing something another individual believes they can use to garner likes, you can very easily be exposed on social media and in most cases, completely blind to the fact you are floating around in cyberspace. The only way to put a stop to this is to demand some limits be set for posting of people’s images without their consent. We’ve all seen the copyright infringement quote under individuals’ images on the internet which goes something like, “You cannot use my image without my express authorization,” however, this crime is committed everyday with zero repercussions. What will it take for us to enforce it?
Here’s my plan to stop online bullying among school aged children:
1) Because school is an institution of learning, cell phones are prohibited in school and within a certain number of feet of the school grounds.
2) Violation of rule number one will mean automatic suspension.
3) If rule number one has been violated AND a recording or image has been circulated on social media displaying abuse of a fellow student, it will result in permanent suspension from the school.
As far as the social media sites go, anyone wanting to post a video or image on their sites, should be required to upload a copy of their identification and then post a picture of themselves which is taken by the app at the time the id is submitted. In this manner, we should definitely be able to cut down on a lot of the bulls*&%t. And while we’re at it, why don’t we have the parents and guardians of underage children post their pictures as well as the responsible adult who is going to crack that whip when any negativity by their child is posted.
After watching the newscast of Ashawnty’s mother speaking of how frightened her daughter looked in the video as she was fighting, she asked a question we should all be wondering about. “They make it real easy to post your video on these sites, and everyone is aware of where to go, but where do you go when you need help?” Instead of showing us ads for things we can purchase on these sites while we are browsing around and viewing different posts, posts ad about helplines our youth can dial when they are feeling overwhelmed and bullied. Oh…wow….what am I thinking! Hope cannot be monetized. There is nothing for them to promote if they are promoting life. Death is a bigger draw.
Little Ashawnty, may you rest in power, as we continue to work in this evil web of electronic ish, to monitor some things which should have been taken care of, long before you made your entrance on this earth.