Dangers of Technology: Cyber-bullying, stalking can have damaging effects



Posted on November 21, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 25 at 6:18 PM

(WHAS11) - These days school bullies are not like many parents remember them.

The next generation is using popular social networking sites to attack your kids.

 More and more children are cyber-bullied and cyber-stalked and much hasn’t been said until now.

In high school, popularity can push people over the edge, driving some teens to be cruel.

The movie Mean Girls is more of a reality in schools than you can ever imagine.

"My nose is broke, my ribs are bruised from her sitting on top of me and everybody was videotaping it," says attack victim Kaitlyn Hall.

14-year-old Kaitlyn Hall tells WHAS11 News she was jumped by a 15-year-old girl at Bullitt Central High School Tuesday.

The attacker is now suspended with possible criminal charges.

This type of bullying left bruises but experts say cyber-bullying and stalking can be just as dangerous; leaving emotional and mental scars.

Sheila Stanton is a JCPS training specialist.  Her niece, Rachael Neblett, was cyber-stalked and committed suicide on October 9th, 2006 after a girl sent her horrific messages on MySpace.  Rachael was a 17-year-old Bullitt East High School student.

"One of the messages said,” I’m not going to put you in the hospital, I'm going to put you in the morgue,” I think that just put her over the edge," says Stanton.

Kentucky has the 11th highest suicide rate in the nation.

Almost four out of ten teens are either the bully or the victim and girls are twice as likely to do it.

"The boys have a tendency to do more of the physical bullying; face to face. The girls tend to do this social sabotage thing on Facebook, MySpace," says Stanton.

But why do kids do it?

"I was shocked to find out that its entertainment. Entertainment was in the top three of every single study I looked at," says Stanton.

None of it was entertaining to two young 8th graders; victims of social sabotage.

The two girls claim their former friends posted videos on MySpace, calling them horrific names.

"These two girls on the computer like to torment me saying rude, nasty things and putting comments on MySpace. Recently they put up a video of 60 names to call me," says one of the bullying victims.

Terrible words can leave lasting damage to young girls' self esteem and self image, especially when the attacks won't stop.

"If they see us in public they'll just stare at us. They walk past us and laugh and try to say stuff to us. But we just keep walking," says one of the victims.

LMPD detectives warn parents that this is a problem seen throughout many schools, not only in Kentuckiana but all across the United States.

Cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking is totally under-reported to police considering experts estimate it happens every seven seconds on the internet.

"If it borders on harassment or cyber bullying then the parents need to take steps with the online internet service provider and maybe some of their own software," Lt. Thomas Dreher of the LMPD Crimes against Children Unit.

Cyber bullying can be punished by law.

A new program based on Rachael's life and cyber-bullying opened last Friday.

It will be performed at all JCPS high schools.