“Even in death, Phoebe Prince was bullied” (Kennedy). That was the headline when a FaceBook page dedicated to Prince was hacked and filled with hurtful and derogatory comments about her. Phoebe was a regular teen that was cyber bullied to the extent that she couldn’t take it anymore. Her body was found in a stairwell, and at 15 years old, Phoebe hanged herself. Although cyberbullying is a vague concept to many, it should be made a criminal offense because it is causing suicides for youth, government intervention is the only solution, and the bully should be punished instead of the victim.
Being a recent issue, cyberbullying has seriously been taken for granted by society. Not only is it real and hurtful, but it is also leading to suicide as a result, especially for youth. From a survey taken by the Cyberbullying Research Center, 20% of around 2000 respondents reported seriously thinking about attempting suicide, and 19% did (Hinduja/Patchin). This means that one out of every five kids has been cyber bullied to such an extreme that life is no longer considered livable, or even bearable. One of these kids was Ryan Patrick Halligan, a regular teen living in Essex Junction, Vermont (Halligan). Unfortunately, he was repeatedly sent instant messages from his classmates accusing him of being gay, and was threatened, taunted, and insulted relentlessly. On October 7, 2003, at the age of 13, Ryan hanged himself while his family was asleep. The internet can humiliate and tip a person over so far, that taking their own life seems like the best—or only option—available.
Though there have been suggestions proposed to fighting the growing epidemic of cyberbullying, government intervention is the only solution to truly stopping cyber bullying. Around 40% of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying, though only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyberbully victim (Webster). A U.C.L.A. study surveyed 1, 454 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, and nearly 1/3 said they worried parents might restrict Internet access, and 1/3 of 12-14 year-olds said they didn’t tell an adult about the bullying out of fear that they could get into trouble with their parents (Wolpert). This means that action has not been taken against cyber bullies, so they will continue to harm others online. In Oregon in 1994, Measure 11 was passed making robbery, rape, and murder committed by juveniles tryable in the adult court (Golden). After this measure was made, from 1994 to 2000, the arrest rates for these crimes fell 25%. It is still active today. When a survey was conducted in a juvenile detention center, 85% of juveniles knew the details of Measure 11, 100% knew it meant longer terms, and 85% responded that they would be less likely to commit these crimes. If cyberbullies know that what they are doing is not only wrong, but also illegal, it will deter them from bullying in the first place.
If cyberbullying is not made a criminal offense,...