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Monitoring social media posts

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Alyssa Reynolds | Evergreen Columnist

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My Big Brother could beat up your big brother.

A California school district found a new approach to tackle cyberbullying by monitoring public posts students make to their social media accounts, and even though this may be construed as an invasion of privacy, it’s a good act.

Glendale School District hired a firm for more than $40,000 to track thousands of students in middle school and high school. The firm, Geo Listening, is planning to monitor 3,000 schools by the end of the year, according to NBC News. The firm will analyze Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts in search of online harassment.

Cyberbullying is defined as an act to deliberately stalk, harass, exclude, impersonate, and inflict harm on a person. Efforts by schools to end cyberbullying have proven unsuccessful. Simply talking to youth about the characteristics of a cyber bully is not going to do the trick.

Simultaneously, it would be ignorant to assume that victims would alert school authorities on their own for fear of further bullying. Moreover, schools can’t rely on parents to have a close watch on their child’s Internet activities.

Apart from humiliation and personal attacks, other forms of cyberbullying threaten teens. The National Crime Prevention Council revealed that 20 percent of teens have been tricked into giving their personal information online.

Despite the best effort that schools have made to promote the education of web safety, students are still victimized. At its worst, the cyberbullying phenomenon has the potential for tragedy. Bullied young people are five times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims, according to a study by Yale University.

The most recent example was the suicide in Florida last week. Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12-year-old girl, lept to her death after enduring nearly a year of intense bullying on social media sites. According to CBS News, messages sent to Sedwick such as, “You should die,” and, “Why don’t you go kill yourself,” motivated her suicide.

Sure, this may come off as a debate about whether students should give up their privacy in exchange for their safety, but the crux of the argument is the effect cyberbullying may have on our youth. It may be invasive for a company to monitor student profiles, but it has only come to this point after much failed effort. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43 percent of bullies have used the Internet as a means to hurt and embarrass peers. The Internet has provided bullies with a convenient vehicle to externalize their hatred. It is refreshing to see that a school district is taking it into their own hands to relieve victims from torment.

Cyberbullying is no stranger to the headlines but the problem is no one knows what to do about it. The school’s decision to hire a firm is a first step in really stopping the abuse.

-Alyssa Reynolds is a senior communication major from Ferndale. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this Column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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