The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The cycle of cyberbullying

Liu explores the effects and causes of the recent surges in cyberbullying in this new age of technology.
Graphic by Julia Zorc ’24/Staff

Access to social media platforms has increased significantly throughout recent years. An article written by IncrediTools has reported that in the United States alone, 90 percent of teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen use social media, 75 percent of which have an active social media account. This growing presence of people on social media platforms is not only prevalent in the United States, but also in the whole world. An estimated 4.76 billion individuals have been using social media worldwide as of January 2023. 

As is often common, the rise in social media users has also led to a rise in the misuse of social media platforms. Cyberbullying poses a serious threat to the teenage population as it is associated with an increase in sadness, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. The unpleasant truth about cyberbullying is that, most of the time, the perpetrators and victims of cyberbullying are peers. This significant problem raises some serious questions regarding our school’s attempts to stop cyberbullying. LMSD, like many other school districts, have implemented policies against bullying. An example of this would be Policy 246, titled “Discriminatory Harassment, Bullying and Hazing.” Under this policy, LMSD states, “The purpose of this policy is to promote and maintain a safe, positive and respectful environment that is free from bullying, hazing, and discriminatory harassment.” 

Despite using buzz words such as “bullying,” “hazing,” and “discriminatory,” LMSD does not necessarily make an attempt to inform students about this policy. If you’ve been a student enrolled in LMSD for many years, how often do you actually remember the school reminding you about their anti-bullying policy? On a random A-day during the year, you’ll probably watch a 10 minute film about cyberbullying during advisory. However, showing students pointless videos with dramatic sound effects and adult actors playing high school children does not genuinely address the root cause of the problem; rather, it makes mockery of cyberbullying. As a result of LM’s poor enforcement of the penalties for cyberbullying and of its own policies regarding bullying, an incident of cyber bullying had occurred at our school. The incident had involved a freshman student and the social networking platform, discord. An anonymous sophomore student had reported, “I remember when I was on instagram earlier this year and there was a post made by an LM student. The post says something about their freshman sister being bullied in discord by a classmate in her Spanish class. I remember this was extremely controversial due to the fact that Lower Merion did not speak or report this incident”. In addition to establishing ineffective “anti-bullying” policies, LM has always attempted to persuade children to speak with counselors on issues that they might have. 

What LMSD fails to realize is the fact that victims of cyberbullying oftentimes have issues on speaking out, in fear of being labeled as a “tattle-tale” by their peers. Even when students actually speak out, a counselor might not always be the best option for students. Cyberbullying is an up and coming issue. It is only with the recent rise in popularity of social media platforms within the last few decades that cyberbullying has been something necessary to tackle on behalf of our schools. Counselors might have gone through school during an era where it was uncommon for students to have accessibility on the internet. Although guidance counselors are certified in understanding emotions, it is quite difficult to truly comprehend another person’s emotions, especially if they have been the victim of cyberbullying. Evidently, LM has not been transparent about cyberbullying, which unfortunately increases the likelihood that students may engage in or be the target of cyberbullying. The district has simply applied a “band-aid” to a bullet hole of a problem.

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  • Jill AltshulerJun 8, 2023 at 12:29 PM

    Ivan – Thank you so much for your insight into this serious problem and your courage to speak out about the insufficiency of LMSD in addressing the issues. I and many other parents have been extremely concerned about this. If you would be willing to speak with me about some ideas that I have for helping students use the power of their voice and perspective to demand change, I would deeply appreciate it. Please let me know. Jill Altshuler, parent of 11th grader Ally Altshuler.