**Trigger Warning: Mention of suicide, bullying and rape
My Hubby works evenings so we record any TV shows that we want to see together and usually watch them on the weekend. There are only a handful, but they are usually to with science, space, computers or mysteries. I love medical shows but Hubby hates blood so I watch them when he isn’t around.
I have loved the CSI franchise, but there is way too much blood so of course we haven’t watched them together until now. The latest series, CSI Cyber is right up Hubby’s alley. He is an incredible programmer, taught it at a Technical Institute for 13 years and has a very logical mind. I love everything about computers as well, so it was natural that we would be drawn to this series. And it hasn’t disappointed.
One of the episodes we watched tonight was on Cyber-bullying and how it can spin out of control. Teenagers get into it because it seems “impersonal” and “harmless” and “everyone else is doing it”. The premise was that the girl’s father had been dating but he stopped seeing the woman because his daughter wasn’t happy (the Mom had died). The jilted lover (also the school’s Guidance Counselor) started the bullying page to hurt the father for dumping her. Students in the school got on the bandwagon, posting comments that the girl should kill herself.
We had a case in my area where a teen posted a video on YouTube about her cyber bullies right before she took her own life and I know of a few other cases across Canada. I am sure there are more everywhere. Also, young men have killed themselves after being bullied about being gay.
I was bullied all my life. It started in kindergarten when I had a short haircut and had to wear orthopedic shoes (in those days not very pretty). One boy started calling me a “boy in a dress”. In grade one at recess, a few older kids tied me to the fence with my skipping rope and left me when the bell rang. The teacher wondered where I was and my classmates were too scared to tell. It went on and on even into my teens and twenties. No matter where I went, I was bullied or teased in some way. I internalized it because it had to be me.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like for me if there had been cyber bullying in those days. If you could find any good in what happened to me it was that it was all out in the open. The people who called me names or pushed me around did it to my face. Now it is put on the internet for everyone to see…and join in if they want, hiding behind a monitor and keyboard or cell phone.
One of the worst episodes of bullying ended up with me being date-raped on my grad night and it was set up by two girls who were supposedly my best friends. I thought for years that this was my fault until I was in group therapy after my bipolar was diagnosed (in my early 30’s) and I shared the incident. I was told by my fellow group members that this was date rape plain and simple and bullying by my friends. It was my “first time” and that was something that was robbed from me; something I could never get back. It took a lot of time and the love of my current hubby to heal those wounds.
Now think what could have happened if we had the internet back then. Those girls (or the guy they talked into being my grad date and carrying out the rape) could have posted pictures, given details and made the whole thing much worse that it was. Without that I was able to just shut down and I didn’t tell anyone (even the two “friends”) that I had sex with the guy. I was ashamed and even though I was drunk and drugged and he forced me, I kept it to myself, thinking I must have led him on. My friends wouldn’t hurt me like that…
Now supposedly my manic depression had started when I was 16, so before this incident, but I do believe that the way I was treated, and how I began to see myself, were connected with the illness. When I was eight, I wanted to slit my wrists but was interrupted when my sister came home. The doctors have traced my clinical depression back to this time. Again, bullying was one of the main reasons I didn’t want to live.
One of the kids who were posting on the girl’s bullying page was the son of the leader of the FBI’s Cyber group. When he confronted his son the boy said “I just did it because everyone else was, she is crazy.” His Dad told him that cyber bullying is illegal and if the girl committed suicide (which she didn’t) he could be charged.
In grade 12 I was attending a boarding school. One of my friends borrowed my camera and took a picture of another girl in the shower. The dean of the dorm confiscated the film, had it developed and removed the picture and negative. Situation rectified. Now, anyone can take a picture of anyone doing anything on their phone and upload it or share it within seconds.
I am very glad that CSI: Cyber did this story and I hope that parents and teachers show it to kids. Technology can be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.