Better education can combat cyber-bullying, not legislation, expert says

Globe, Mail, , Sept 30, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The thing with cyber-bullying and other inappropriate web use is that authorities seem to pretend that students and young people came up with these ideas all by themselves, and that if they are taught (or legislated into) proper behaviour, this would address the problem. But young people learn what is right by observing their parents and other adults. If they see, say, political advertisements demeaning and denigrating opponents, they learn that this is appropriate. If they view scantily clad teens in advertisements and Disney shows, they learn that this is appropriate behaviour. If they see Paris Hilton become well-known as the result of an explicit video, then the making of explicit videos is normalized. The same newspaper that ran this story is quite happy to run scandalous exposés of public figures. If we want to see an end to cyber-bullying and other inappropriate behaviours in our youth, then we as adults need to desist as well. But of this, I see no sign, and the pious denouncement of teen behaviour continues apace.

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