By Amy Jenne

I understand that everyone has his or her own opinions, but I was very unnerved when I read “New Age Cyberbullying.” I have researched cyberbullying on multiple occasions, and it was apparent to me that Justin Lalputan only used Google to find key terms. He did not really investigate what cyberbullying was or how it has been used.

Cyberbullying, also known as electronic bullying or online social cruelty, is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted” on others. Technology is being embraced and becoming a dominant medium at a younger age than ever before. In 2007 alone, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry polled students and 42 percent admitted to being bullied through the use of the Internet.

Cyberbullying is a huge issue because those who are bullied online are highly likely to skip school, to have detentions or suspensions, to carry a weapon to school or to have severe depression, substance use and delinquency in their lives. Although you, Mr. Lalputan, do not believe that cyberbullying is an issue because you find it laughable, it is an issue.

These students who are bullied experience real suffering that can affect not only their emotional development, but their academic performance as well. Bullying has become a distraction for students that, when done repeatedly, causes unfavorable attitudes towards the school environment and can lead students to miss numerous school days.

Issues like cyberbullying become school problems when they are brought into school. Did your school have computers and Internet? Many students use these to continue bullying students throughout the day. Do you have a cell phone? More and more young students are bringing cell phones to school. Are you that naïve to think they are just for emergencies or for students to talk to their friends? They are being used to bully during, in-between and after classes. Many states have anti-cyberbullying laws put in place such as Arkansas, New Jersey and Delaware. These states are trying to protect the victims of cyberbullying because it is a problem.

Better yet, remember Megan Meier? A friend’s mother bullied her online via social networking sites and what happened to her? She committed suicide. Do you think she was the only person to do this? Let’s discuss some more recent children. How about Alexis Skye Pilkington from New York? She was an intelligent, young female with a soccer scholarship to college. Only a few days ago on March 21, 2010, she took her own life. “Mounting evidence suggests that harassing Internet messages she received may have been a factor” in her death. There is also Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old in Massachusetts, who also committed suicide. This is just a small list of media-covered child suicides due to cyberbullying.

To believe that kids need to toughen up is a joke. They are children and they are innately vulnerable. To say that parents need to get involved is easier said than done. To furthermore say that a school giving a lecture on cyberbullying is ridiculous borders on cruel as well as entirely ignorant of such a potentially dangerous situation. As I believe is true for children, sticks and stones may break my bones, but cruel words will always scar me.

Amy Jenne is a senior history major.