This was the title of an article in Education Week that I stumbled upon today. I looked at it in shock, not because I couldn't believe it was happening, but more because I had a sort of "No kidding, duh!" reaction to it.
Does it surprise you that kids are doing this? It shouldn't. It's one of the unintended consequences of enacting laws to deal with cyber bullying and online harassment. The kids who are doing the bullying and harassing are trying to cover up who is doing it because they want to evade laws and policies that forbid and punish this kind of behavior.
What we are seeing then, is the problem being compounded. Not only is it bad enough that students are doing the bullying -- online or off, -- now we add sneakiness and subterfuge to the list of "bad behavior."
Nearly two years ago, I called attention to the problems with isolating cyber bullying as a separate "thing" from off-line bullying, something that somehow needed a different solution. While there are some things that make cyber bullying somewhat unique, the basic root cause of why people bully and harass online is the same as what drives off-line behavior (and, as a matter of fact, frequently online bullying LEADS to offline, in person bullying as well!)
The people who bully lack the sensitivity, compassion and consideration that allows them to understand that treating others like this is just plain wrong. Before you go off telling me I'm wrong, let me qualify this: I'm not saying that bullies don't know it's wrong when they bully; I'm saying they lack the basic character development that allows them to care.
Further, bullying is about power. It's about a zero-sum game that says, "Hey, in order for me to be a bigger deal, I have to make you a lesser deal." If I write you a hurtful note on paper and stuff it in your locker, I may hurt you, but you and I are the only ones to know. If I do it on the Internet, though, a whole "universe" can know.
Now, take the fake id action and you see that these students will use the anonymity of the Internet to do their damage without any obvious way of being held accountable for their actions. I say "obvious," because kids don't usually realize how traceable the Internet really is. I myself (and I'm not a cyber-expert by any means) was able to track down (more…)