In this CNN article, CNN weighs in on an example of an all too common trend in recent years: Suicide by bullied teens. The article discusses the story of a Canadian teen who experiences years of bullying, who left a video up on You Tube explaining her story last week, and after attempting suicide in the past, took her own life hours after posting the video.
This is a sad situation, played out all too often in many states and countries. Most often, the roles of social media and technology play a big part. First they are a mechanism for the bullying, often leading to harsher behaviours because of the disconnect technology leaves us with. Second, as this article discusses, leaving online suicide notes or videos leads to popularity after death and raises the concern of ‘copy cat’ situations. Although social work education suggests that bringing up the topic of suicide doesn’t make a teen consider it, I feel this is a concern since popularity plays a major part in this entire situation.
So what can be done? Obviously anti-bullying law enforcement is a suggestion. Many communities are creating laws regarding the punishment of individuals who cyber bully. For example, through my internship with a local school district in the 2010 school year I learned that a Cyber-Bullying against minors Law was enacted in Suffolk County. Judging from working in the field of school policy in the 2011 school year, this law has been somewhat effective, although as always the difficulty with laws facing minors leads to some snags, as does actually catching individuals as you need hard evidence.
On a social work level, education and awareness are key. However, the girl in this video was already seeing a therapist (although we don’t know if it was a social workers). Obviously there is more we need to do as a profession, but what can be done for our clients who are so far down the tunnel of self hatred due to bullying that simple therapy doesn’t help?
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