Cyberbullying claims another victim. Tyler Clementi took his life after his roommate secretly videotaped Tyler with a man in his room, and posted the video to Facebook.
The time has come to abandon the old singsong, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
Names do hurt. As Tyler’s tragic death makes clear, bullying kills. Even when the bullies never lift a hand.
It’s especially pernicious when the vicious name calling goes virtual. Jessi Slaughter and many others have experienced the brutal sting of cyberbullying. Tyler is only the latest victim to be bullied to death.
Schools and state laws are scrambling to catch up with the changing landscape of children’s cruelty.
In the meantime, parents need to take the lead. We need to learn with our children how to protect them from bullies, online and off.
The danger facing our kids from sites like Myspace and Facebook isn’t limited to the shadowy specter of a predator masquerading as a 13-year-old. It’s in the real 13-year-olds, who are capable of turning on each other with surprising viciousness.
While we work to keep our kids safe, we also need to teach them not to bully others. We can’t shrug off namecalling or childish pranks. From their earliest years, our job is to raise kids who will treat each other with kindness and respect. In the schoolyard and on Facebook.
More by Sierra Black: