STAFF EDITORIAL: Deadly consequences of online bullying, pranks can be avoided

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: Aside from old-fashioned tactics, social networks have given rise to bullying among college students.

OUR STANCE: Students should be careful what they post on the Internet. What one thinks is a harmless prank could lead to a tragic outcome.

According to ABC News, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, posted a farewell status on his Facebook page on Sept. 22, stating that he was jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

The suicide is reportedly the result of his roommate secretly streaming Clementi’s sexual encounter with a man on the Internet.

But the use of social networks in relation to bullying has had some positive influence.

A Facebook event titled “October 20th: Spirit Day – Wear Purple!” was created in honor of Clementi and other gay and lesbian youth who took their own lives in the past few months after harassment for their sexual preference.

Students everywhere have taken notice, and the Hill is no exception.

While many students have agreed to wear purple tomorrow – the color represents spirit on the rainbow flag – the Herald encourages you to be mindful of how you treat people. Your consideration could prevent days like these from having to occur at all.

First, respect your roommate’s privacy. If you agree to arrangements set ahead of time, keep your word.

Also, remember that everyone has different levels of tolerance. If you consider yourself a jokester or think teasing and name-calling isn’t hurtful, think again. No one likes to be the subject of ridicule, especially if it stems from something as natural as their physical traits, disabilities or sexual preference.

Do not think adults can’t be affected by bullying; the Internet can be a dangerous place for blackmail and bullying because it’s available to mass audiences.

Above all, if a friend tells you they are hurting, listen. Don’t overlook their emotional wall posts or take their Twitter rants as a vain cry for attention.

If you notice that a friend is withdrawn, unusually sad or talks about suicide, interject.

Start showing your support by going with them to seek professional help. There are campus services, such as the Counseling and Testing Center, available for personal sessions with licensed counselors. Call 745-3159 for more information or to arrange an appointment.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for some students. But your words and actions have the power to destroy lives – or save them.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.