2013 Winning Essays

High School

First Place - Caroline Richter

Tangled In Our Web

He scrolled through his blog page, liking the occasional post here, reblogging something there. After refreshing the page, he realized a message in his ask box. He opened the mail and regretted it immediately. He read a paragraph describing his flaws, how horrible he was, how stupid he was, and so on. Reading through the long message, he started tearing up. He had gotten these messages before, all from anonymous senders. He already had self-esteem issues before the hate filled letters started to pop up. Scanning over it again with dampened eyes he wondered why someone took so much time to send him such insults. He closed his laptop and plodded to the bathroom. Once inside he looked into the mirror, and stared at an unfamiliar face. He saw himself, but he felt distorted and gnarled by his flaws, the same ones pointed out to him. He even started pointing out more flaws on his own. Analyzing himself, he started to believe those gibes the anons had said.

"Because it's true, you idiot."

That 's why they must 've sent it, he thought, that 's why they took the time.

Looking up through strands of his dark hair he spoke to his reflection:

“You're ugly and stupid. No one likes you, they all put up with you. You're worthless.”

He kept speaking to himself, sending hateful words in a loop from his own lips to his ears. Tears streamed down his face and he scrambled through the cabinets with shaky hands. Finally, he found it. He gripped it tightly and slid it across his wrists, over and over. He cried. Blood and tears pooled together to stain his sink.

Everyday kids and teens go through this. This is cyber bullying. It’s the same as any other verbal bullying, but instead of staying at school or in public, it can follow you home. Having people bully and send hate to you at home is something no one should have to endure, being harassed at home means there is no safe place to get away from it. Cyber bullying can also be inflicted by anonymous messages that are able to be sent by anyone. Although these anonymous messages are not untraceable, it makes it harder for an individual to retaliate and defend themselves. Being harassed can seriously affect peoples' lives. It can cause them to have psychological disorders, eating disorders, and many other forms of low self-esteem. People may start to see themselves as inadequate. They might think lowly of themselves and unfortunately self-harm of all varieties is an effect of this bullying. In some cases, even suicide can be the only escape for victims. Cyber bullying is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with immediately.

The internet is a great place for individuals to express themselves, for people to communicate, and a fun place to "hang out." The internet also has a downside to its greatness, as most great things do. It has cultivated an easy and seemingly anonymous way to insult, degrade, and send hate to people. Although there is no way to truly relinquish cyber bullying, there are ways to minimize it. Something individuals can do is be safe on the internet. But what does that mean? It means not to go on any strange looking websites or anonymous chat sites. Make sure to regularly update your security settings on all your public pages and most importantly don't do anything on the internet you wouldn't do in real life.

Cyber bullying is possible to minimize, but why should people have to minimize it in the first place? Why do people cyber bully? Most people who send hate to others probably don't even think of the consequences of what they do. They might think they're being funny or joking around, but to the victim it's anything but comedic. Sometimes cyber bullies have their own self esteem problems, and the way they deal with it is to put other people down to boost themselves up. Now, not all cyber bullies are this way. Some cyber bullies truly have the intention of sending hate. We, as a technology based society, need ways to monitor these hateful messages. One way that we can do this is to track certain words or phrases that appear continually on one person's computer and is being sent to relatively the same people. Schools can put filters on their internet servers to prevent certain messages from being sent. Parents should also regularly check up on their kids' web activity to make sure they aren't being bullied or are bullying.

Cyber bullying is an issue that needs to be taken seriously and dealt with immediately. To help prevent cyber bullying, the state of New Jersey can set up more programs in schools informing students on cyber bullying and encouraging victims of cyber bullying to come forward for support. People need to be able to realize when someone needs help or support; we should give them the means to be able to do so. New Jersey needs to come together to show people how to accept one another. The hate needs to stop. We need to coexist peacefully.

Second Place - Thomas Smyth

Cyber Bullying

Do you know someone who has been the victim of cyber bullying? Chances are, you do. Cyber bullying is defined as the usage of communication technologies to intentionally harm another person. This, of course, is not physical abuse, but rather a powerful attack upon the emotions that can lead to lifelong complications, depression, or even suicide for the victim. It is a huge problem is today's world, and it is only continuing to grow. Although much legislation, awareness campaigns, and other measures have been taken to alert the public of the problem and attempt to stop it, only marginal success has been made. Large amounts of people, especially young people, continue to be abused by cyber bullies.

If cyber bullying is such an enormous problem that many officials are working hard to prevent, then why does it still occur? Why does it even occur in the first place? Cyber bullying commences for reasons very similar to those that traditional bullying does. When people feel insecure about themselves, they sometimes make an effort to attack others to convince themselves that they are superior, make themselves feel better, or divert others' attention from their own flaws to those of their victims. However, unlike standard bullying, cyber bullying is much easier to execute. Through the usage of modern technology, one can easily discover contact information of his or her victim, and even attack while remaining anonymous. Social networking websites make it very easy for a cyber bully to contact almost anyone, either through the website itself or through other contact information provided through the website. It may appear that cyber bullying, therefore, is easy to avoid because a person could simply hide his or her personal information or avoid social networking websites. However, this is not at all the case, because a cyber bully can still post defamatory messages about a person on any website, and this gossip can and will easily spread. In this manner, cyber bullying occurs without the victim even being directly contacted. Bullies are also drawn to using the internet as a tool for attack because once something gets on the Internet, it practically never leaves it. Any information, even deleted information, is usually stored in databases, and any person can download or screen cap messages before they are deleted. The law could take action, but results of the bullying will persist.

What, then, are the results of this terrible crime? If you've ever been bullied, there's a strong chance that you understand the negative feelings that follow. Victims become unsure of themselves, become upset, and feel alone. These feelings are intensified because, like all forms of bullying, bystanders have a tendency to side with the bully in fear of being attacked next. With seemingly all people turned against them, victims feel overwhelmed and unable to seek support. They may undergo personality shifts, become increasingly depressed or angry, or even contemplate suicide to escape the situation. Research has also shown that victims of cyber bullying are twice as likely to suffer from mental illness as those that are traditionally bullied. Cyber bullying has resulted in multiple instances of suicide, as well.

Why hasn't cyber bullying been stopped? What can the public to do help stop it? As mentioned, legislation to protect victims from cyber bullying and awareness campaigns to prevent it have occurred, but it is evident that these approaches are not working. Speakers travel the country and lecture school students of the problems caused by cyber bullying, but it continues to occur. Like all animals, humans have a desire to assert dominance over each other. However, humans are capable of love, caring, kindness, and compassion, but these emotions are often not felt by immature children and teenagers; these are the prime perpetrators in the cyber bullying world. As long as humans remain the way they are, cyber bullying will continue. Lectures may inspire some children to stop cyber bullying, but many will continue the practice. Legislation can continue to pass, but the Internet is like a separate world that is much more difficult to monitor. Victims are often embarrassed to report their troubles as well, weakening the effectiveness of legislation further. The methods that are being used to combat cyber bullying are primarily directed towards the bullies, attempting to reach out to their hearts and stop them from partaking in the evil act. This is the major problem, in order to stop cyber bullying for good, we need to focus our efforts on educating the victims, not the bullies. Victims of cyber bullying have a huge advantage that they often do not realize over victims of traditional bullying: it is purely a mental endeavor. Generic bullies can physically harm a victim, but what truly happens in the case of cyber bullying is that the victim is mentally being coerced to hurt himself or herself. Because the situation is entirely focused on the mind, a victim can avoid all negative effects of cyber bullying simply by using logic. What is the purpose of being depressed? Why would anyone even think of committing suicide and wasting the life that has been given to them just because of what someone else thinks? There is no reason for one to feel ashamed when they are insulted, whether this occurs on the Internet or not. Humans are very intelligent creatures, and they most certainly possess the capability to block out unwanted emotions by understanding that those emotions are pointless for logical reasons. Does anyone ever want to be sad? Most do not, but they would argue that sadness is inevitable. But if one understands that there is no reason for sadness when one can be happy, then he or she can push that sadness away. Victims of cyber bullying must be informed that they have this power. This is the only true way to combat cyber bullying, because the bullies will only cease their actions when society can reach a state where their actions are completely ineffective.

Third Place - Justin Motley

Love Yourself

In the 21st century there has been a significant boost in the technological age. Some would say that this is a good thing but others will tend to digress. In tune with the boost in technology there has also been a major increase in cyber bullying. On a daily we will often hear and read stories about a teenager committing suicide due to the harmful and derogatory terms said to them through the Internet. This has been a consistent issue in today’s society and it needs to be stopped.

Social networks such as: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have often caused people to commit harmful deeds to themselves because of the cruel things said to them on these sites. However, we cannot just blame the social networks for this kind of predicament. The media has played a huge role in the use of cyber bullying in America. We often see in music videos, and television shows that if someone is different or doesn’t act or look the same as everyone else they are to be treated as such and be excluded from the whole. These media sources have created a notion for the younger generation that you have to be tall, skinny, beautiful, and heterosexual to be able to succeed in anything that you partake in.

In my eighteen years of life I have noticed many things about people when it comes to social networks and how they go about embracing their flaws and insecurities. As each day goes by it becomes harder for people to really embrace whom they are and be able to accept their flaws. I can confidently say as a senior in high school I have seen so many people try to act or be someone they aren’t and try to make show for their peers. To prevent from being bullied themselves they master the skill of being able to pinpoint another person’s insecurities and use that against them. With today’s adolescence we also see people acting one way online but another way in person. The problem with teenagers today is that they just want to be liked and accepted, but they can only be liked and accepted if they look, act, feel, and live a certain way. It’s all just one big popularity contest.

According to the statistics done by the i-Safe foundation for cyber bullying: over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online while the other half has engaged in cyber bullying, more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online, and well more than half of young people today do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs. These are only a few of the results taken from multiple studies for cyber bullying. There are certain precautions that need to take place in order to make sure that cyber bullying will not occur so often. It would be safer for children, for one, to stay off of social networks. I think eighteen would be an appropriate age for students to be allowed to use social networks. The world would benefit a lot more also if there were some kind of monitor or screening done when certain things are said on the Internet. There should be assemblies and sessions held with students on a regular basis to discuss the severity of bullying and its effects on the victims that experience it. Ideas like these taken seriously and into affect will really make the world an easier place to live especially for adolescents.

As a human being coming into adulthood in today’s society someone being bullied is unacceptable. I have never been a victim of cyber bullying but bullying, in general, is inhumane and wrong. The experience of being bullied can really destroy a person’s ability to function and flourish in the world. Everyone has a right to live a full and dignified life no matter how fat, skinny, tall, short, gay, straight, or color they are. No one should encounter dehumanization due to one’s ignorance. A better approach is to educate the children of today and teach them that community and love is key.

Tiffany Martin - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

Posted on YouTube, there is a video entitled "My Story-struggling-bullying-suicide and Self Harm". The person's hands hold index cards in the YouTube clip and shows self inflicted cuts, some faint in appearance indicating that they were previous self inflictions. Upon the index cards is a step by step look into what brought a young girl to claim her own life. Amanda Todd told the world of her pain and trials as a victim of cyber bullying. She was constantly ridiculed by her peers online, as well as offline. She moved to a new city and enrolled in a school. There, her troubles only grew when she was physically assaulted by peers from her old school. She faced countless acts of manipulation when naked pictures resurfaced on the internet.

Her story comes to an end by the young teen committing suicide. This video went viral attracting international media attention, sending a life changing message across the world; sparking it to open eyes, ears, as well as hearts. Will it have to go so far each time for the world to realize cyber bullying is a more than an outstanding issue?

Cyber bullying involves the usage of technology in order to torture, embarrass, harass, or threaten someone. Many teens may not see harms in their actions but those placed in situations of any kind of bullying would differ in perspective dramatically.

With over eight percent of teens using cell phones regularly, escaping cyber bullying has become almost impossible. The internet has allowed for easier access to unlimited sources of information. But with all the advances in technology, some dark places have arisen on the internet scene.

Social networks were originally created to keep you up to date with the lives of friends and family. Locally or internationally, instant messaging, video chat, etc. can make for keeping in the links of those around you. There are many ups to using social networks, but drifting back into reality, not everyone plays by the rules.

Seventy percent of teens report seeing frequent bullying online. Forty three percent report being bullied online. Cyber bullying has become the most common source of of bullying in recent years.

Although not physical, cyber bullying is a form of teen violence, which can have lasting harm to the bullied and the bully. The bullied are very likely to enter a state of depression, and are two to nine times more likely to commit suicide. The bully may experience emotional disturbances, in which their victims have gone beyond what they had expected. Girls are twice as likely to become victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying. Only one in ten victims will inform a parent or adult of their abuse. Many teens fear an adult's involvement will make the situation worse, or will add to the situation and therefore have them portrayed as a snitch.

Although there are no ways of fully terminating cyber bullying, precautions can be taken. If someone is already experiencing cyber bullying, the best thing a bystander can do is act. Stand for what it is right even if you stand alone! Would you rather mourn a loss in which you could have prevented or take a stand before things reach the point of no return? You do not have to verbally speak to make your voice heard, write a letter viewing your perspective of what is wrong. If you are the actual victim of cyber bullying keep in mind, no matter what brought about the situation, no-one has the right to belittle, ridicule, taunt, or abuse you. Find the courage within yourself to speak up; a small step today can make for a milestone tomorrow.

Savannah Jackson - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

Track practice ended late, and I only had ten minutes to reach the bus. I sprinted through the long hallways to my locker, which was at the other side of school. My backpack smacked hard against my back, as my sore legs ached as they tried their best to run. Finally, I reached my locker and stuffed my belongings into my backpack. I continued jogging to the bus, until I felt the sudden urge to go to the restroom. I fought with myself internally not knowing what to do or where I should go. I had to decide quickly for time did not wait, and from where I was I could hear the roar of the starting engine from the bus. I pushed open the bathroom door with a force and threw my black backpack into the corner. As soon I went in, I went out, there was no more time to waste. No time to even take a quick glance at myself in the mirror, even knowing I look like a hot mess. I grabbed my things, and exited the bathroom. I accidentally slammed the door behind me. Suddenly I felt a feeling of forgetfulness fill my mind. Though I could not properly ascertain what I had forgotten. The loud honk from out side snapped me back to reality, as I remembered about the running bus waiting for any last passengers. It was only when I was aboard the bus when I realize what I had lost, my phone.

The next day I made it my mission to find my lost phone. I was too afraid to tell my mother, knowing she would berate me, and tell me I am an irresponsible teenager, especially for one who is near graduation. I had to prove to her that I was a responsible young adult. I comprehensively searched the school for my cell, starting from the girls' locker room to the bathrooms I last left yesterday. The last spot I decided to check was the lost and found in the office. "Hello." I said to one of the receptionist. "Hi," she replied, "what could I help you with?" "Well I am actually looking for my phone I lost yesterday." I shared embarrassed. "Okay, can you tell me what type of phone you have, please so I can check?" "Sure, an LG Samsung smart phone." I answered. She unlocked a door and entered into a room with a variety of items from eyeglasses to sweaters all placed on shelves. She looked around carefully, but did not spot the phone. " I am sorry." she said, " Maybe someone by the end of the day might turn it in." "Alright." I said feeling debased.

I left the office, and rested my head on a locker. I closed my eyes and sighed. Where is it? Who has it? I pondered. Nothing. "Hey Olivia." I opened my eyes it was my friend John. " Hey." I replied back to him sadly. I could tell that he heard the sadness in my voice so he asked me, " What's wrong?" I sighed again and shared what bad luck had fell upon me. "Yesterday, after track practice I lost my phone. I am looking everywhere for it, but I am unable to find it." " I am sorry Olivia." John said. "Yeah I know." I said. " Hey, you can use my phone if-" John's phone cut him off; His iPhone rang, it was a text message.

John quickly entered the password and opened the message he had just received and he was not pleased. His face twisted. I looked at him confused, wanting to know what had disturbed him. " What's wrong?" I curiously asked. " Ah," he wondered scratching his head nervously. Unsure what to say to me he instead said, " Nothing. It's really, nothing." He ended, "I promise." I could tell he was lying so insisted questioning him again. "What is it." I demanded again. John continued to protest, but I knew something was wrong. Angered, I snatched the phone from his hand. "No!" he warned. I looked at the screen in disgust, displayed was girl's bare-naked body. I gasped, "Who is this!" I shouted at John. I didn't think he was that type of guy. "Olivia its not what you think-" he tried to explain. “Oh really!” I said upset, cutting him off. "Look I don't know who she is, look she didn't even show her face. Plus I don't have a girlfriend." He defended himself fiercer. I didn't believe him, I scrolled up to see the number, and it was mine. My heart stopped, everything became sickeningly silent. But in that silence the truth was revealed to me: someone had my phone and sending out these fake pictures of “me”. I was speechless; tears swelled up in my eyes. I looked up at John unable to speak. He hugged me tightly. “I am so sorry for whoever may be doing this to you.” He consoled me. I cried into his chest distraughtly. He hushed me, “You’ll get through this… we’ll get through this.” He held me tighter. “I know” I managed to utter.

The rest of the school day went terrible. The text of “my” picture went viral, it seemed everyone knew about it. Heading to class people stared, whispered, and some started to name call. By the time I reached home I was drain of all emotion. I slowly closed my front door, and walked to my room. I felt guilty for not greeting my mother or telling her what had happened to me at school today. Instead I descended into an abject depression. I dropped onto my bed lifeless, and buried my face into my pillow. I laid there for while until I heard a sound coming from my computer. I turned my head around I noticed that I had left my computer on, and my Facebook page was displayed on the screen. I was too sad to care, until I heard the Facebook notification sound. I walked over since I was unable to see the message on my bed. I refreshed my Facebook page and clicked on my profile. My heart skipped a beat. I read the messages my so-called "friends" posted on my page. I scrolled down the page reading the horrible posts: one person wrote: W***e, another S***t, the next wrote B***h, and the list went on. As I scrolled down the page, and as I read each message it became harder to breathe. I immediately closed the page ands started bawling.

The next morning I found myself waking up at my computer desk. I looked to see the time I was late for school. I unwillingly got dressed for school. I truly did not want to go, but the teachers were starting to crack the whip on attendance, since the school year is almost over plus seniors were graduating soon. After I finished preparing myself I look a peek outside my window. My mom’s car was parked in the driveway. I sighed in relief; hopefully my mother could give me a ride to school. When I descended down the stairs my mom was eating her breakfast.

“Good morning honey. Is everything alright.” She greeted me.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. Could you give me a ride please?” I asked. “Sure.” Ten minutes later I arrived at school. “Thank you mom.” I said to her softly. As I was about to open the door she held my hand. “I love you.” She told me. “I love you too mom.” I replied and left.

I received the same treatment as yesterday, but it was worse. Some people started pushing me against the lockers, and tried to play it off as just an accident. At science, no one wanted to be my partner for our lab experiment. I ended up working with my teacher. Although my classes went badly, it wasn’t as terrible as lunch.

When I walked inside the cafeteria the room slowly became silent. People stopped eating their meals to stare at me. I passed the table I would usually eat at, but I could tell that I wasn’t welcomed there, as my “friends” didn’t dare make eye contact with me. I ended up sitting at a table at the back of the room. I won’t see them from here, I thought to myself. I ate in silence, as my thought drifted of. I wondered about the girl on the phone. Clearly, it was not my body, people thought differently. When I get home, I decided to delete my Facebook account. I have been hearing rumors kids have been editing the pictures and putting my name on it. I don't even want to think about some of the things they’ve done to it. I was brought back to my surroundings, when I sensed someone presence behind me. I turned around to look it was John. I smiled, happy to see a friendly face. "How are you?" he asked. "Okay, I guess." I said. We sat together in silence for a moment then he started again, " This needs to stop." He said quite seriously. I looked at him puzzled. "What do you mean?" I wondered, then figured out what he meant. "Oh this." I looked down on my lunch tray, unable to answer. I wanted the bullying to stop, but didn't know how to. "Lets go to your guidance counselor." John catalyzed me. We waited until I finished eating my lunch and then headed to the guidance office.

At first my guidance counselor was upset with me for not telling her earlier about the bullying, but it hurt her the most that someone out there is purposely framing me. After I shared what had happened, she immediately called my mother, and the school police officer. My mom after hearing the news was also upset that I didn't inform her first. I explained to her how I thoughts I could find my phone without her knowing, but didn't expect this type of problem would occur. When the police officer arrived, he asked I me a plenty of questions, like: When I last had my phone?, When the text of the girl was sent?, etc. After being questioned by the police officer he said he would do more investigating. It seemed everything was close to be being resolved. "And next time Olivia." my guidance counselor dismissed, " don't hide this sort of problem. I know you maybe thought that all of this would just blow over, but you see how far this got out of control." I nodded. She continued again, "We are always here if you need help." She lightly squeezed my shoulder, "Well at least you told us, better than never right?" We both smiled.

After I shared what happened, I felt a burden lift of my shoulder. I no longer had to deal with this problem alone. Now l had a support system of people who love me and would do anything in their power to end the rumors and mistreatment I had received. The school board even tried to help by suspending the students who posted the picture online. They even sent out letters to parents sharing what had happened in school. The bullying gradually died down as students started to realize I wasn't the one behind the text message that was sent. I was glad, but unfortunately I didn't find my phone or discover the person who was behind all of this.

One afternoon though, as I was waiting for my mother, I saw the school receptionist I asked earlier about my phone running towards me. "Hello, is everything alright." I asked her. "Yes, dear," she paused as she tried to catch her breath, " I found this." In her hand was the missing phone. I looked at it for a while, not knowing if I l should take it or not. I thought for a moment that how such a seemingly harmless device could cause so much harm. It even had the power to potentially ruin a person's life. From a simple text that can make it's way all the way onto people's Facebook page. As I thought deeper, into the situation, I realized it is what you chose to do with the technology around you that can make that difference. It was apparent that whoever sent the text message made an unwise decision.

Zeynep Teke - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

This is it. There's no turning back now; l've come this far. The pain I’ve endured, the humiliation I’ve suffered, is just too much now. One can only handle so much, and now I’m done. After this, I’ll be free. This is my last option.

Still, I can't help but to feel afraid of the waves. The way they violently crash against the shore, their powerful movements that can crush anyone under it, and the suffocation from no oxygen. It’s funny though, because I haven't breathed for a long time anyway. Seeing it this way, it’s not so scary. These past months were much more frightening. People were frightening.

"Hey Flo, why don’t you make a Grakebey account. It’s like Facebook but nobody goes on THAT anymore. I know you don’t like meeting new people, so you should at least keep in touch with the ones you already know, on the internet. I mean, if you one day decide lo widen your circle of friends, you should have somewhere to start”, my best friend Eva warned me. That makes sense, as I have nothing to lose anyway. I won't be a total loser anymore if I have friends on social networking sites.

Thinking back, that was the beginning of it all. I shouldn’t have been so greedy. I didn't need popularity. I should've been satisfied with my small circle of friends. It’s not like l was hated either, l just wasn't popular. I just never occurred to me that l would be attacked.

" What do you MEAN you don’t know why she said that? Why would she lie about you stealing the bracelet her father gave her before he died? If she posted it on your Grakebey where everyone can see, it means she has nothing to hide. But you panicked when she blame you, which is an obvious sign of guilty. So tell me, Flo. Who should I believe?” Eva asked me.

"So now it’s my fault? I DlDN'T TOUCH ANYTHING OF HERS! Nor did I ever talk to her, so why would I steal Jackie's bracelet? " I asked. I was clearly frustrated, but my best friend no longer trusted me.

"Don’t pretend like I didn't notice. I know you're jealous that I’ve been hanging out with her lately, but you have got to grow up. She was my friend first, and just because we got into a fight and I made friends with you doesn't mean that I can't hang out with anybody else. Why can’t you get over the fact that I can like and talk to other people? You don’t own me.”

It was clear who won that day. It was clear that there was nobody on my side. Nobody believed Florence William, even though I told the truth. The evidence was "apparent" on Grakebey, according to Eva. Jackie, Eva's ex-best friend, had posted a picture of me putting something shiny and round in my bag, and another of her bracelet in my bag.

It wasn't apparent to anyone except me that she could have been the one lying and framing me rather than the other way around. People chose to believe the popular girl over the shy, unsociable one. I hadn't actually done anything wrong. Sure, l was jealous of Eva for ignoring me and talking to her more since they made up, but I would never do anything bad to Jackie. I wasn't that selfish.

I could hear everybody whispering about me once I passed them in the hallway.

"She has guts coming to school after what she did."

"No wonder she only had one friend She’s obsessive.”

"Freak. How could she do that to Jackie? Jealousy is no joke.”

“Shameless. She even accused Jackie of framing her. Is she stupid? Jackie has no reason to waste her time with her.”

I feel like dying. I can’t even speak because I'm terrified of what people might say. I’m terrified that my words will be disregarded again. Eva's been ignoring me, and I've been getting more and more hateful comments on my Grakebey, email, phone, and face to face.

Nobody dares talk to me unless it’s to say something hurtful. The people I once called my friends are the ones giving me the hardest time. Who knew they could be so cruel? I though they knew me. People whom I’ve never even talked to before bash me and point finger at me for things I never did, heard of, or imagined.

By the end of the month, I was thought to be a thief, a liar, a curse, a druggie, a juvenile delinquent, someone who purposely befriends then socially attacks people, and someone with HIV.

By this time, I was a body without a soul. I wasn’t living anymore. Florence Williams died the day Eva Green turned her back on her. I no longer felt the need to eat, sleep, talk, cry, or even breathe.

Which leads me to where l am now. I can't take the pain anymore. Since I'm not wanted, I might as well leave.

One more step.

Being forgotten is better than being hated. Today, a month and a half since that fateful posting, I will free myself and others of the monster they created.

Just one more step.

But I didn't die that day, a month and a half since that fateful posting. l was saved right before my end. How? With the help of one fateful posting from Jackie Belle.

Being forgotten is better than being hated. Today, a month and a half since that fateful posting, I will free myself and others of the monster they created.

Just one more step, I'm taking. Suddenly, my phone buzzed. I might as well check it since my decision won’t change anyway. I'm Sorry - Jackie Belle.

One more step became two more, then four more, then ten, until the waves were out of sight.

That day, I was able to breathe again and forgive. That day, I learned that jealousy WAS ‘no joke.’ That day, I wasn’t so lonely anymore, because the truth would reveal itself and come to stand by my side. I believed me, so there was hope.

Toka Elbeyali - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

To whom it may concern, (I address this as such because a) I doubt anyone will read this, and b) those that will probably couldn't be bothered)

My name is Erma Buttox, and yes, I am aware of how ridiculous my name is. It is difficult to enunciate, spell, endure, and, in my case, forget. In four years, I have transferred schools six times, received two suspensions, and made no friends. Before you think that I am some type of "bad seed," I must clarify that none of that was predominantly my fault. Apparently, besides having a traumatizing name and a disreputable academic record, l have a fatal disease that sounds like a cross between a Hawaiian fruit and a type of lethal foot fungi. It's meningitis. If you guessed right, then yes, meningitis is an infection that causes temporary or permanent deafness. I have single-sided hearing loss, which means I am partially deaf.

If you still believe that we live in a world in which disabled people receive royal treatment, then I am your living proof of the contrary. To be honest, I don't like people and people don't like me. In case I had any doubts, the millions of online messages reassured me that all people-no matter the district- are the same.

When I was six years old, my parents found out that I have meningitis. I wish I could say that they tried to be supportive and understanding, but they didn't and they weren't. They have always treated me as if I was broken and incompetent. They think that God's punishment to them was giving them a deaf daughter. I think the real punishment wasn't the deaf part, but having to deal with someone as complicated as me every day of their lives.

The bullying began when I entered middle school. Naturally, as the introverted person l am, I had trouble making friends. Weeks went by without exchanging words with anyone from school. No one knew my name or recognized my face, and that's the way I wish it had remained. Weeks later, people started approaching me, asking me questions like what my name was and why l didn't have any friends.

Unanswered questions led to unjustified fresh abhorrence for the new girl who wouldn’t talk. Since teenagers are famous for mumbling (and befriending me required a lot of yelling) you can see how that affected my social status considerably. They didn't know I couldn't hear them if they talked by my right ear. "Freak," they spat, snickering in groups as spiteful and malicious as a pack of wolves. I tried to ignore their crass comments as they gradually increased from "harmless fun" to "callous bullying”. They jeered at me as I passed by. Teachers saw, but never said anything.

One day, I went on Facebook. I noticed that a few girls added me as a friend, so I decided to accept those requests in hopes of losing enemies and gaining acquaintances. That same day, I received insensitive comments from Lara Davis on my picture, publicly stating how ugly she though I was. Many girls agreed, and one suggested I try a plastic surgeon as soon as possible. I immediately deleted everyone from my friend list, new and old.

I moved out of state for seventh grade because my father received a great job opportunity. This meant moving to a new school. This time was different. Everyone was told I was deaf from the start. I noticed the people wouldn't constantly heckle me or even acknowledge my existence. Everything remained that way 7th to 8th grade, and I was grateful for some quiet. I didn’t have friends, but I didn't have enemies either, which was okay.

However, as Robed Frost said, "Nothing gold can stay." I began to realize that was true as the summer of 8th grade ended. "Your father got a new job in Tallahassee, Florida! Ima, you know Florida is one of the best vacation spots around!" my mother exclaimed, and turns to walk away. It felt like all l ever saw my mother do lately was walk away. The walls of my dark life were closing in on me and she didn't even notice.

We moved to Tallahassee by summer's end. 9th grade was tough. People pretended to befriend me, and then crushed my heart. I wish I were exaggerating. This was when I realized that if the universe was all connected like the Big Dipper, I was the random, detached star on the side with no notable place or role.

I had to punch a girl in the face in order lo be suspended, because my parents would never have transferred me. 10th grade is by far the worst year of my life. Everyone in school calls me "buttocks." I want to tell everyone that it is actually pronounced "boot-o", but decided it was pointless. I don’t care about anything. I am emotionally hardened.

The taunts seemed incessant; they went on for months. Soon I began to receive hate mail, and soon after that, threats demanding l leave the school. My locker was vandalized. Photo shopped flyers of me in my underwear circulated, emphasizing the "buttocks" namesake to my name. "Sticks and stones, Erma," l reminded myself. I later received various death threats from many people. When I became exhausted, I decided to set fire to the science room. No one was hurt, but I was inevitably expelled yesterday.

I’m tired of crying and feeling like a fish brandished in the air, forced to feel the loss of water and the presence of air. Unlike other people, music is not my friend, and sound is not ally. I’m tired of attempting to shadow the blade of their words to the blades ripping through my flesh to keep me numb. I have nothing to live for, and no one to miss me. I hope all the bullies get what they want if they see this suicide note. So goodbye, and hopefully not just goodnight to whom it may concern.

Farewell,

Erma Buttox

Salma Elakbawy - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

Mondays.

I let out an exasperated sigh as rain pelted my face. For as long as I can remember, Monday has always been my least favorite day of the week. I pull my hood over my head and walk faster, although it doesn't help much.

A car passes by, splashing me with water. It stops; the windows open as I walk past it. "Hey, skank" a voice says from inside the car. I don't dare lookup. Walk faster! Walk faster! The voice in my head screams.

The car zooms past me, the sound of the people in it and their laughter fades as the car goes farther.

"Loser!" someone else yells.

It's only a picture, I try to convince myself. Everything will be Okay.

When l finally arrive at my high school (a.k.a hell), I quickly scurry inside and navigate my way through the crowded hallway. I pretend to ignore the obvious shoulders that purposely butt into mine. I arrive at my classroom and take a seat.

The bell finally rings, and my classmates assemble into the classroom. I ignore the dirty looks people give me. I'm so washed over with relief when I see my best friend, Clara, take the seat next to mine.

“Hey!” I greet her. Her gaze ls still fixed forward, surely she did not hear me. "Hey" l repeat again. Clara doesn't look at me. I sink farther in my seat and close my eyes. My own best friend won't speak to me.

“Clara,” I say in a loud whisper “don't ignore me. I haven't explained-“

I get the hint, she- like everyone else- hates me. I cover my head with my hood once again, and sit quietly through the class.

The days drag on and the messages I receive via IM and Facebook leave me speechless:

slut

whore

kill yourself

how much for a little bit of time, baby ?

Die

Whore

Slut

Don’t cry I command myself almost every day, despite the heavy numbness that has overwhelmed me. L think about the Face book comments on the picture, and how obvious it is that no one will believe a word I say. Every time i stare at the girl in the mirror; she looks so shocked and sad. Her face is pale and her eyes are wide. I hardly recognize myself.

The next day there are more comments on my Facebook wall, and the picture seems to have spread like wild fire.

Whore

Slut

Shank

Hoe

Fat

Kill yourself

Everybody hates you

A few weeks pass, and things at school gradually get worse. I consider telling an adult about the online harassment, but who? My mom? She's never home. My teachers? That will make the students hate me even more. I wish my dad was here, he'd know what to do. He'd tell me how to deal with everyone.

It is around Monday again when I get a phone call from Clara.

"We have some serious catching up to do!" she exclaims "I'm picking you up in ten minutes."

When I get into her car, she doesn’t say a word. Suddenly, I feel hand clamping my mouth shut and a blindfold is tied over my eyes. Another pair of hands grabs my arms behind my back and tie them together with rope. Then the car screeches to a halt, and I am pushed out the door and onto the side of the road. The car squeals past me.

Luckily the blindfold slides off of my face, and I manage to cut myself loose of the rope that ties my hand together. I can't believe Clara would do this to me. I start limping towards the direction of my house.

The pain of everything that has happened this month is so tangible; I can reach out and touch it. The painful, wracking sobs come. My damaged self that seeps through the cracks that I flimsily repair each time fell apart. But this time, those cracks have been split open, leaving gaping holes of my being.

Once I reach my bedroom, I turn on my webcam so that everyone can watch this video live from the internet.

"Hello everyone" I begin, staring straight at the camera "my name is Zoey, Z-O-E-Y. Not skank, whore, slut, or hoe, as I have been referred to for the past month" my voice waivers "as you all know, a picture of me with Bryan Edwards has been posted on Facebook. I feel like I should explain what really happened, although doubt any of you will believe me."

I take a deep breath. "I was at a party when Bryan approached me, I was standing there- minding my own business- when he came up to me, piss drunk. He then shoved his tongue down my throat, and groped my breast. Besides the fact that this was completely violating, one of his idiot friends decided to take a picture and post it on Facebook."

"Since then, people- my own friends- refused to talk to me. The only thing I received from all of you Is hate. What I want to say to you cyber bullies, is that you are all cowards and I hate you." l walk out of my room and into my mom's. She is not home, as usual. I search the drawers for the hand gun that I know she keeps, and I check if it is loaded. I numbly trudge into the bathroom and stare at the girl in the reflection. She is not me, she looks back at me calmly- as we both point the gun to our temples.

I feel a terrible tightening in my chest, the constriction of my lungs, I try to inhale deep, shuddering breaths as I try to hold back the inevitable-

"Nobody will miss you" she whispers to me, I hear the computer Ding! To notify me that I received a new message.

"Whore" she adds.

Now I can be with dad.

She smiles bitterly at me.

I say goodbye.

Middle School

First Place - Kevin Qiu

Cyber-Bullying

When the Internet was first created, it was used by the military to contact troops send confidential information; the world's first communication device. Years later, the general public began to use it to communicate with ease and to store data for all aspects of daily life. Today, things have changed greatly. We now can communicate, read, work, play, and express our emotions and thoughts with ease. It's a digital realm, yet with every world come aggressors. Today, what our community calls "cyber-bullying" has become an impending issue in our society today.

Cyber-bullying is the act of harassing and harming people via the Internet. This is not just simply an occasional threat on a social chatting site; it can go up to the extent of destroying a victim's dignity and self-esteem. In the end, suicide may even be the result of a tiny yet powerful insult made on the Internet. Even if these things start out small, it can soon evolve into cyber-stalking, the act of harassing another individual in a way prohibited by the law (not that cyber-bullying should not be against the law).

Seneca once said: "All cruelty comes from weakness”. Could he be right? Cyber-bullies find refuge behind the veil of the Internet, and they take advantage of the choice to stay anonymous in order to say and do things they would never do in person. The effects of the "old-fashioned” bullying remain same on the Internet, but the bully feels bolder and secure while bullying via the Internet, and hence making it both widespread and easy to do. Throughout the Internet we can find racial slurs, horrendous insults, and phrases and discussions only the dimensions of the Internet can hold.

Of course, it didn't take long for the modern world to realize the effects of cyber-bullying. With bullying-related suicides being the 3"" most common reason for teen deaths, most school programs put up cyber-bullying programs in order to halt the spread of these crimes into their own schools. Many parents are becoming concerned for their child's safety on the Internet and demanded change on Internet etiquette policies in schools and households. The government has also taken the initiative to make sure these schools have proper punishments for cyber-bullying and to prevent this from turning into criminal harassment in the future years. However, it is not all they can do. Making cyber-bullying an expulsion -worthy action may suppress bullying between students, but making every kind of digital harassment illegal would be the best way to completely eradicate cyber-bullying altogether.

Imagine being under the control of strangers. Imagine yourself shaken and distressed by pixilated messages on a screen. Imagine finding a great amount of pressure from the influence of a new technology. The perils of the Internet is experienced by all, and felt by some to be very deep and harmful. Nonetheless, it can be eradicated with small steps and, ultimately, experienced by none and felt by none. This revolution may just start with you. Internet bullies rely on the reactions and emotions produced by their words and insults. Ignore all of them. They have no rights in ruining your day, dignity and self-image, and perhaps may not even be intentional. Insulting them back would also be considered cyber-bullying. Of course, in cases where you are slandered publicly, considered a scapegoat, or tagged in offensive images by fellow peers or acquaintances, it is wise to report these actions immediately to your school or moderators of the specific site. The best way to stand up to a cyber-bully is when he or she is currently targeting another victim. Bullies tend to only cause trouble to one individual, and when other bystanders come in to turn the tides, the bully may back off in fear of being humiliated or reported. When someone else sends you files and images with emails and other communication, be cautious of potential threats stored within such tiles. Sending inappropriate images and transferring computer viruses intentionally is also considered cyber-bullying, and may have extensive damage on your computer and your life.

Take care to make sure that you don't become a cyber-bully yourself. On social websites, monitor your words toward others, especially when you are joking around or being sarcastic. Lack of body language and tone may morph your sentence into one that sounds monotonous and has malicious intent. Your words may have a huge impact on another's life, and so you should really think before you type and send. In the physical world, you can always apologize and make up for hurtful words and actions, but on the Internet, you can never really undo your actions.

Even if a person does his or her best to resist cyber-bullying and support the victims of such acts, it may not enough to eliminate cyber-bullying. One entire community must be educated and wary of cyber-bullying, its effects and its intentions in order to fully protect its members from it. Organize meetings. Open "cyber-bully free" fairs. Treat cyber-bullying as you would to violence and drug abuse, because it's just as harmful. One by one, everyone must know the effects, how to react to harmful words and works and be educated on how to prevent the spread of these actions if we are to truly cope with cyber bullying and prosper within the digital realm.

Second Place - Jas Dev Ahuja

Cyber Bullying

In the old days people used to pick and tease each other. High school seniors bullied the freshmen. Now it has gone worse. People are bullying each other on the Internet. That is considered as cyber bullying. The dictionary definition of cyber bullying is involving the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior. Now that we are in the 20th century technology is getting more and more powerful. Children are using Facebook, Twitter, email, and other websites. Now cyber bullying is happening on these websites. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now!

If you think kids don't get bullied enough in school, they get bullied more on the Internet. Data shows nearly 45% of kids have been bullied online. 1 out of every 4 kids had it happen to them more than once. About 70% of students have report seeing this more than once. Teens make it more common for cyber bullying because more than 80% of teens use cellphones and have Facebook or Twitter. Nearly 65% of teens agree cyber bullying is a very serious problem. Around 81% of teens think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person. Only l in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once. Approximately 75% have visited a website bashing another student. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide. This is one of the many reasons why cyber belying needs to stop.

Suicide is weakness and cowardness. It is in the top five common sources of death in the whole world. Jessica Laney a 16 year old girl hung herself on December 9, 2012 after being bullied on Ask.com. Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Canadian teenager whose suicide in the month of October 2012 provoked a flood of sympathetic outrage, endured one torment after another in the years leading up to her death: sexual exploitation online, cyber bullying, and a physical assault at school. The number of people committing suicide has gone up over the past few years. Usually kids from ages 10-19 commit suicide because of cyber bullying. Tyler Clementi a Rutgers College student committed suicide after being cyber bullied by his roommate. A personal video of him was posted on the web. That might have been the reason he committed suicide on the George Washington Bridge.

There are many ways you can stop cyber bullying. You should not respond when someone is bullying you. Don't try to get back at the bully who made fun of you. Save the evidence so you will have proof when you tell an adult. You should block the bully from your profile and etc. on websites like Facebook. Don't be rude like a bully, be civil and stay calm even if you don't like someone. Try to be a friend. Don't try to bully people for your amusement or attention. I won't work. Lastly tell an adult if someone is bullying you or if you see someone being bullied. Stand up for yourself and the other victims.

In conclusion cyber bullying is a very serious matter and it is against the law. People commit suicide because of cyber bullying. Suicide is one of the top five causes for death in the world. Cyber bullying happens on websites like Facebook and Twitter. It even happens when people are texting each other. You should keep the evidence so you can show it to an adult. Never bully anyone and if you are being bullied just ignore the person bullying you then tell an adult. If you bully someone you will be in big trouble so don't bully. Cyber bullying needs to stop now!

Third Place - Isabella Pedraza

Cyber Bullying

You open up your phone. You open up your social network account. It might be Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You post a picture of yourself. You shut off your phone, drop it on your bed and leave the room. When you return, there are nasty comments under the picture. "I hate you", "you are so ugly" and "you are such a loser!" are just some of them. You probably think “What did I do wrong?” This is a case of cyber bullying. It spreads like wildfire. Are you the victim, the bully, or the in between?

Cyber bullying can begin with just a comment or message. Usually at first it's a joke. Then it grows into nasty, mean and hurtful messages. Then, it begins to happen every day. The messages keep coming and coming. Then, they are forwarded to the whole school and everyone is laughing at you. Then you start to wish that you didn't have to hear it anymore. If this is happening to you, or a close friend, a good thing to do is to save the message or comment. That way, if the bully lies, and says that they never did or said that, you have proof. Some people may threaten victims, or lie to them, and that can lead to anxiety, anorexia or even suicide. There are sick and twisted people out in the world, that when they make people sad, bully them, or hurt their feelings, it makes them laugh and it makes them happy. Maybe something happened to them when they were younger {like cyber bullying} and they want to do it themselves and have revenge. Also, if you are being cyber bullied, you may want to go to a trusted adult. Also do that if it may be happening to a close friend. Report, block or ban the person who is bullying you. Some people, if it goes too far, may contact the police.

There are many cool sites: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They are social network and media sites. They were originally made so that people could look at their friend's profile, to chat with a long time friend, and to share each other's photos. I hope you know which ones they are. So, as far as I'm concerned, they were not made to be a weapon to hurt other people's feelings. Once a nasty comment or message is posted, these sites turn into what I like to call: cyber bullying swords; they can also be a virus. Even game sites; like Club Penguin. But should you really be on them? You really shouldn't be too vulnerable on any of these sites. You need to be safe and only friend or follow people that you know. On a lot of these sites they have privacy settings, and they have the option to make your account private. If you are being cyber bullied, don't say something mean back, like telling them to shut up or calling them a mean name. Don't do that because the bully will think that they are hurting you and that they have power over you. You don't want them to think that.

I think that we could have pep rallies and group discussions to talk about cyber bullying. In schools, we could have an anti-bullying club, and hang posters around the school, and talk to teachers and kids. Many people have started anti-bullying and cyber bullying groups and programs, but more for adults and teachers. What about a group for kids? So, that they can talk about their life experiences, and people who have had cyber bullying happen to them talk to them. Kids are told not to bully, but are they really listening? Their teachers and parents say to be nice and not mean, but they do it anyway! They really need to wake up and smell the coffee, and realize that since technology was invented, it has become another way to bully people!

Make sure to follow safety rules and don’t talk to people you don't know. You may think you know the Internet, but it can turn its back on you, and it can get ugly. Use any electronic device properly, not in vain, not against your parents, and not a way to hurt other people's feelings as a bully. If you are being cyber bullied, show your parents! If people talk about cyber bullying in school, at assemblies, or anywhere else, listen! Just in case it ever happens to you.

Bridget Carmichae - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

I grew up with the recognition that sticks and stones would break my bones, but words would never hurt me. How ever, what was supposed to be a comforting rhyme only reminded me that no one understood my problem and I was on my own. Bullyingstatisticsorg states that 7% of teenagers have attempted suicide due to being cyber bullied. I'm one of those teens. The bashing and criticizing of me on social media started about three years ago, when I was in sixth grade. Describing myself, I was the average sixth grader. I had a few pimples and had just received braces; however I still had confidence in myself and thought I was fairly attractive. I also was very intelligent for my age and relatively mature. I don't exactly remember why or how the mockery of me started, but I do clearly remember that it did not stop. That's one of the worst characteristics of being cyber bullied. Everything becomes a blur. It’s a never ending commotion of searching the internet to see who's bashing you, what they're saying, and who else liked or commented on a post. Checking for information is an addiction, and every victim becomes an addict. I was only cyber-bullied for about 6 months, however it left a lifelong impact on me.

I can still clearly remember the first snide comment written on my Facebook page by an upperclassman about how the freckles on my cheeks looked like moles. I reacted back with a rude comment, and from there it only escalated. I don't know what aggravated all of this hate that appeared upon my Facebook or why random numbers were texting me telling me to kill myself. However I do know that it extremely hurt my feelings, destroyed my confidence, and shattered my inner peace. That's why I advise young, vulnerable teens not to join Facebook or Twitter. If you're just starting to adapt to a new school and you're searching to make friends, talk to people in person. No one insulted or confronted me in the hallways at school or at public social events. Participating in social media sites can only make your self-esteem more susceptible to cowards who hide behind an anonymous post. You will most likely have a more positive social experience if you ditch social media.

During this horrific six month period, I endured Cyber-bullying that included YouTube videos that made a mockery of me, telling me I was worthless and ugly, and I didn't deserve to live. I also received restricted phone calls, and hateful text messages saying I was going to get jumped, and that a gang was going to kill me. I can honestly say that all this revulsion hit me out of the blue, which made me the most upset. I was a well-behaved kid. I had straight A's, was in advanced classes and overall had always socially excelled. I wasn't a nerd, and I wasn't a mean person, but I questioned my worth as there must be a reason why everyone hates me so much. All I wanted was for people to recognize how much I was hurting inside & how much this hate was hurting me. I looked for escape from the pain, so after a month of torment, I burned myself with a curling iron on my wrist. Somehow this was like a release, and I felt a bit of relief as I stared at the bubbling skin on my body. Little did I know that the burn would only become the beginning of my self-harm addiction.

Fast forward a few months and there were cuts and scrapes and burns all scattered on my body. I thought I deserved this. Somehow my parents questioned my long sleeved shirts and the constant sweatpants worn around the house, and one day they made me take them off. Shocked with what they saw, I was quickly admitted to the Crisis Center to treat my wounds which had become infected from the dirty razor blades I was using to release my anguish. My parents rushed to school and met with the school principal. The word got out that I was an "emo freak", and my bullies were suspended from school for a week. This was no closure to me. I still felt like an outcast, and like I didn't belong on the absurd planet lived.

To this day, I still feel guarded. Everyday thousands of children are harassed and bullied online. There really is no way to end cyber-bullying. Even after my bullies were suspended, they still didn't stop tormenting me. Punishing them was like adding fuel to a fire. The word "snitch" has been scarred and sliced into who I had become, which led me to countless suicide attempts. Being cyber-bullied also comes with an expensive cost. My parents have spent thousands of dollars in therapy sessions and antidepressants to help me heal and recover from my tragic six months. I've battled the consequences of cyber-bullying for almost three years now, however l am glad to say that I have become stronger against bullying.

There really is no absolute way to escape cyber-bullying. Society is so wired into social media which is brought into our homes, where our safe spot is supposed to be. A method I used to ease my social anxiety was to create a "safe zone" in my house. This is an area where you can relax and spend time by yourself. When using this zone, I encourage you to write in a journal to release thoughts. Whenever you're feeling low self-worth, write a list of all the people that care about you and love you. Life is always worth living and it does become better. l'm one of the many survivors of cyber-bullying, and because of this l've been diagnosed with Depression, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder. I believe I'm living proof that words can hut, sometimes more than sticks and stones can.

Joe Scerbo - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying: Coping with the Electronic Realm; be heard, organize, achieve

Only her big brother knew that she kept a diary, stuffed between her mattresses. He should have made time to listen to what she had to say, to ask about her day, instead of always being so focused trying to balance homework, sports practices, and his busy social life. But now it was too late, she was gone and was never coming back. Her brother was confused, they went to same school and he never saw his sister getting teased in the hallways. However, as he opened diary, her words revealed all the caustic comments made to her Instagram and Facebook accounts, and the endless taunting received in the form of text messages to her cell phone, the same hand-me-down phone he gave her for her tenth birthday. He turned to a page in her diary. It was a mock of a How-To guide his little sister had written:

How-To-Be-a-Bully in 2013:

1. Hide behind an electronic device with made up accounts, because you have no guts to tell me in person.

2. Post it for the public to see so that you can feel really good about yourself when the other jerks "like" your status or comment on it.

3. Be so obsessed with my social media accounts that you have to constantly stalk me and have a clever comment ready to harass, embarrass or torment me. Get a life!

4. Have parents who spoil you so that you have access 24/7 to your smart phone, computer, iPad, etc... (Or, do they dislike your rotten personality too, so they give you these devices to occupy your time so you don't bother them?)

We live in what is called the information age. More and more teens have personal smart phones, and access to the endless information on the Internet. Unfortunately, this great technology can sometimes also bring abuse. People can easily hide behind a device, even using a pseudonym, to get their aggression out on others. Lately, schools are attacking the problem of bullying, but many students who are bullied are still too embarrassed to admit it. Therefore, society has to do more to work with the schools to set an example of how bullying will no longer be tolerated. The first step is to educate the public on the bullying epidemic. Second, the law should include a zero tolerance policy for those who abuse others. Finally, if someone repeatedly bullies, a public example should be made of that person as a deterrent to others.

As a first step, students who attend a school and their parents/guardians should be required to attend an assembly detailing the severe consequences and zero tolerance of cyber bullying. Hopefully, awareness may deter bullies from ever acting on their bullying instinct. The assembly should remind the audience that we are a community. There is room for everyone to work together, and to either get along, or just stay away from each other. Further, it should also remind students that it is also not acceptable to be a bystander. If everyone would take a positive stance on stamping out bullying by calling a bully out on an inappropriate post or text, it might put the bully in his or her place before irreparable damage is done.

Once students and their parents are educated, the zero tolerance policy should go into effect. Once a cyber bullying comment or text is sent, there is a permanent record of that information in cyber space, and that will be used as proof that abuse has occurred. A defense of "it wasn't me" could only be acceptable if the owner is able to get the real bully to agree that he or she is guilty of the offense and is willing to take the punishment. People will learn to password lock their phones. The punishment could include: For a first offense, a cyber bully and his parents should attend a class on the effect of bullying the victim. Using real victims, or the family members of victims like the big brother mentioned in the story above, to teach the class by telling their stories would be a very effective technique to help bullies realize what their behavior can accomplish. For a second offense, additional classes, and counseling by a psychiatrist should also be required to determine if the bully has issues that need to be discussed mg by a with a professional doctor. For a third offense, social networking sights should shut down the bully's accounts, and the offender should have to register with the local police, so the public is aware that the offender is a bully.

Finally, if the bully has a third offense, the local police report should make the public aware of this. This way, others who may bully would now think twice about it. Even if the name cannot be used because the bully is a minor, publishing that a punishment was given to one of their residents will make the community take bullying more seriously. Victims of cyber bullying will no longer have to hide because they know that society will protect them. Instead, the victim (or a witness) could present proof to an authority figure, and the bully would have to pay for his mistake. Public awareness that bullying is taken seriously is the final step to deter bullying.

If the authorities would take bullying more seriously, then we may see a decrease in bullying, teen depression and suicide in our society. There are three steps that need to be done. First, our schools need to educate the public about the problem and the consequences of bullying. Next, our lawmakers need to enact a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Finally, our local police need to make public examples of those who do bully. If these steps are taken into action, fewer teens would be victims of depression and suicide, and bullying can become a problem of the past.

Maeve Merzena - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

In the five states of California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington, an appalling fifty two percent of teenagers have reported to have been cyber bullied. Almost every teenager spends substantial time online, whether it is on homework or on a social network such as Facebook. The only problem with social networking is that, in the network, just as any other society, not everyone fits in. In school you can instantly identify cliques and who does not fit in talking to someone else. Everyone has an established place in a social pyramid. Kids in one levels of the pyramid are not always kind to kids in another level. These leads and behavior continue in the virtual world. Bullying can be physical, but an even more harmful type can be the verbal kind, or in this case the virtual kind.

Electronics are a huge technological advance and have been greatly praised in helping solving many problems. Plus, the internet has a lot of great software that make life supposedly easier. Nevertheless, there are cyber places that are like traps, open to anyone, waiting to receive prey. The hard part is knowing where to go and what not to do. Not everyone in the world has the greatest common sense, and that is who the cyber predators hunt; the weak birds. Common sense smart kids can also be the victims of cyber bullying because a site seems safe, but it really is not. Owners of the site want people to chat there, post pictures, and do embarrassing things.

The average bully is not something that many people understand, for many reasons. When people usually think about a bully, what usually pops into their mind is someone throwing someone else into a locker, or someone who physically hurts someone else. Conversely, possibly the worst and most common cyber bully is someone who uses mean harsh words. They can be almost like serpents with their tricky way of pulling you into something you may regret. No one can ever be sure if the person behind the screen is really who they say they are. They can post embracing pictures, say mean things, tell lies, and in the end expose secrets that others do not want to have exposed. Also, they can trick younger minds, for profit, or even to take the life of someone. The worst part is that no one can be sure what kind of game they are playing.

The end product of someone being cyber bullied can be horrible, both emotionally and even physically. People who have been cyber bullied can feel hurt, take it quite personally, feel they cannot get help, and get angry of perhaps miserable. When something embarrassing happens online then often people feel they cannot help themselves, and can do nothing, and assume that everyone in their entire world knows about their embarrassing situation. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and even, in extreme cases, suicide. Also, for people who are tricked by a cyber-bully, they could be kidnapped, killed or even robbed, if they have provided their personal address. There are so many outcomes to cyber bullying, and they are all risky and can be seriously life threatening.

However, there are many courses of action and prevention methods that can be used to stop the cyber hunter from shooting down its prey. Many kids are afraid to tell their parents or a trusted adult. However, telling someone, who has more knowledge and power, can help you stop the cyber bullying, and if in any case of extreme emergency, can get help for you. Also, a school counselor can help with anxiety, or emotional stress, or depression from the act of bullying. Asking a computer teacher or any other teacher in the school can also help you find your way out of the sticky situation. Your parents are the first people you should notify, in any case. Additionally, raising awareness is a great way to help teens and people from falling in the trap of the cyber bully.

The best thing that you can do to prevent yourself from being cyber bullied is to be safe online. Before joining any social networking site, ask a parent or guardian to make sure that it is safe. Lastly, play outside, write a story, or play with friends, and don't spend a lot of time online!

In conclusion, technology has both an upside and a downside. Everyone should be careful online, and remember that what is posted online is public, and cannot be erased. Lastly, be kind to everyone and follow the rules of the road, and don't be afraid to stop and ask for directions.

Brendan Mikolajcyk - Honorable Mention

Cyber Bullying

Cyber-bullying is a topic multiple pedestrians have very little knowledge about. Everyone who researches it knows it is harmful, but how can they stop it, is the priority question. There are plenty ways of stopping cyber-bullying that are easier than people think.

First off, what is cyber-bullying? Cyber-bullying are actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm another or others. It is also use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person. Lastly, it is use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person.

Individuals cyber-bully for a mountain of reasons. First, they are too frightened to bully a victim in person. This is a typical cyber-bullies’ reason of bullying. Second cyber-bullies believe they are anonymous, so their victim will not know who they are. Third, the bully officially has the victims personal information ad is most likely never going to banish it, this means never ending bullying. Cyber-bullying has millions harmful outcomes. First drawback is the innocent person will receive harsh and upsetting messages over the internet and even their phone, causing suicidal thoughts and eventually death. Second, the prey of the bully will become addicted to drugs, alcohol, ad wrist cutting, and over time this will kill them. Cyber-bullying can cause the person being bullied to become a bully. This is probably the worst of the outcomes because it creates more bullies, meaning more victims of death. A very famous YouTube video has gone viral throughout a couple years. This video was about Amanda Todd's story through cyber-bullying and the outcomes of her story included suicidal thoughts, and addiction to drugs, alcohol, and wrist cutting. She eventually died recently from suicide.

If I knew someone who was a victim of cyber-bullying, I would help him the right way. First, I would tell him to take a stand against the bully and tell the bully it does not affect him. Second, if that does not work, I would tell him to tell an adult he is close to. If this does not work I would have him immediately share this with the police. This would be my reaction to if I were being cyber-bullied.

Technology and the Internet are some of the greatest inventions in the entire world, but also some of the most harmful. It is very easy to walk into trouble on the lnternet, yet it is very simply to stay safe. First, there are safety attachments that can be added to the Internet for a computer or laptop. This will allow citizens to know what websites are safe and which are not. With phones and cell phones the owner can easily block numbers unknown or just ignore messages from anonymous phone numbers. Lastly, people can balance their technology usage time. For example go outside more often and avoid cell phones and computers. Do not ditch all technology because it is important to be up to date with the harmful things happening around a close area.

What can be done to prevent cyber-bullying? An easy question to answer, several things. First, people in our world can learn to stay away from websites that include a lot of people who cyber-bully, so a person can create private account so only people he wants (friends and family) can see their information. Second, schools and parents can block all websites that require personal information and include strangers to protect kids from being harmed or bullied. Parents can also constantly talk to their kids when they look upset and force information they are not sharing. People in on world can also form organizations where they can track down and find cyber-bullies and protect the victims of the bully. Lastly New Jersey and the United States can create laws requiring that only appropriate material can be posted on a website, and any inappropriate material will be taken off immediately. Another law can include that all personal information will become unhackable after being used.

I have stated several different things about cyber-bullying. People can immediately take action and make a stand against cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is causing suicides and more people to turn to drugs and alcohol for help. This should not happen, so show support and end cyber-bullying and bullying today!