BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s bullying taken to a whole new level. Cyberbullying allows millions of people to witness someone’s humiliation on the Internet.
A young Maryland teen tells Denise Koch it happened to him and that his life has never been the same.
It’s a new kind of victim: young people who kill themselves when cyberbullies make life unbearable.
“This has got to stop,” said Vicki King.
On Easter Sunday in Howard County, it happened again. Grace McComas, 15, took her own life. Her parents blame cyberbullies who preyed on her for months.
Harassment once limited to classrooms, hallways and playgrounds, now floods cyberspace. Eight out of 10 teens admit they’ve been victims of online bullying.
Darin King, 14, was bullied at school for years.
“The taunting and the teasing–he’s been bullied on and off since fourth grade,” said his mom, Vicki King.
But everything got worse when a fight video from his middle school in southern Maryland went viral. One day, Darin got fed up and threw a punch. Another student videotaped him getting beaten up while other kids laughed.
“This kid posted on Facebook `The fight’s on Twitter too, you guys,'” Darin said.
“This is not OK. This is not the way you treat another person,” Vicki said.
Darin’s mom says nine days after the fight, the school told her the video was taken down.
“That wasn’t the case because two weeks later, I’m still finding the video on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube,” Vicki said.
The video was eventually taken down but fallout from the cyberbullying changed Darin. He still loves exploring the woods behind his home, riding his bike and playing ball, but he won’t go to school anymore because of bullying.
“I would really like him to be able to enjoy a public education without having fears,” Vicki said.
Darin’s feelings are normal with reports of online harassment skyrocketing around the world. Nancy Willard, a national expert on cyberbullying, says this very public humiliation is devastating.
“One of the big features of the Internet is it kind of distances us from being able to see the impact of our actions,” Willard said.
The controversial movie “Bully” shows these fights happen a lot at school.
“The law is really very clear that schools can intervene if students are attacking other students,” Willard said.
“I want everybody to be aware if you want to post something on the Internet, would you want yourself in that video? Would you want your name in that comment? And if you don’t, then don’t post it,” Vicki said.
Maryland’s Department of Education says schools can demand that students remove postings if they interfere with a student’s education or their physical or psychological well-being.