13 July, 2008

Cyber bullying

The Ad Council has an ad against cyber bullying. You can watch one of a young girl publicly reading a list of insults about another young girl sitting in the audience. There's also an ad of a teenage girl saying some pretty vile things about a member of her study group, in front of someone's mom no less.

Each commercial moves from sketch to a scolding,

If you wouldn't say it in person,
why say it online?
Who designed this ad? Does s/he know any real-live kids? Is s/he that colossally ignorant of the fact that children say these things and worse, in person, all the time?

My classmates said stuff like that to me when I was in school, and worse besides. They said it in person, and in front of their friends. In front of some people I had previously considered my own friends, until they laughed and joined in.

My son's classmates say things like this to him now. I try to help him through this part of life the same way my mother tried to help me: teach him that people who say such things, or laugh at them, are too shallow to be worth your esteem. Develop a thick skin, and ignore it.

That's cold comfort when it seems like the world is laughing at you. I can sympathize with him. I had to contact the school faculty on one occasion: a teacher made a joke about a distinguishing facial feature, and students—"being kids"—picked up her joke and ran with it in a cruel direction. When I brought it to her attention, she had the decency to apologize to him, and put a stop to it.

I understand the campaign and support it wholeheartedly, but the choice of words puzzles me. Changing it to,
If you wouldn't say it in public,
don't say it online.
would make more sense.

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