For whatever reason, cyber bullying has been in the news over the past couple of months. There was the recent case in the US where mother Lori Drew was found guilty, and then had her conviction overturned, as being complicit in the suicide of 13 year old Megan Meier.In Australia, there was the case of a 14 year old Geelong schoolgirl who also committed suicide after reading comments about herself on the internet.
Then there has been a couple of segments on Channel 9 and Channel 7 current affairs shows, as well as plenty of copy being written in the daily newspapers. So it is of no surprise that this uniquely 21st century problem is finally getting some money thrown at it by the Federal Government, with Education Minister Julia Gillard announcing yesterday that $3 million will be spent on whether existing cyber-bullying programs work. It will be interesting to see how affective these programs have been. The problem with cyber bullying, is that unless the police cyber crime division becomes involved, it is very hard for Joe Public to find out who the bully is – especially if it is anonymous. It seems that what teachers and government agencies rely on is appealing to peoples’ better natures, and/or getting victims to either tell somebody about it, or delete the offending text/post (or get it deleted by moderators). A full-on strategy that brings bullies to account might be a lot harder due to the nature of the medium – unless you are a master of tracing IP accounts to their source, then your options are pretty limited at getting to the bottom of who is doing what to whom. I for one, hope this money is well spent, so this blight on the tech sector can be kicked to touch once and for all.