Bullying isn't restricted to the school yard anymore, taking on a new high tech form that allows students to pick on class outcasts at all hours of the day (and night) via SMS or the internet.
In Japan, where 96% of high school students have a phone, things have virtual harassment has become a major issue. One student stopped going to school after being bombarded with verbally abusive emails and text messages, holing up at home for half a year, becoming anorexic and contemplating suicide.
This past summer, another Japanese teen followed through on his suicide, leaping to his death after classmates put naked photos of him online and sent him threatening emails asking him for money.
Studies have shown that 10% of high school students have been the victim of virtual harassment or cyber bullying.
"Cyber bullying is a global trend, but the anonymity it provides for perpetrators may have extra significance in Japan, where wariness of direct confrontation is a cultural norm," Reuters said.
"Common methods include e-mailing pictures showing victims' genitals to classmates and posting insults on class Web sites."
Victims of bullying often don't have the courage to stand up for themselves, mostly because they don't believe they should be treated any better. In the past, adults were able to observe school yard bullying, be it verbal or physical, but because text messaging and emails are private, it is very difficult to monitor.
It's unfortunate that human nature is to ostracize other individuals. If only students could learn to love their peers, send each other encouraging emails and text messages, the world could become a much brighter place.
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