Rutgers tragedy raises questions on cyberbullying

September 30, 2010 3:21:49 PM PDT
The Rutgers sex video tragedy is disturbing on so many levels.

The incident has raised new questions about how folks are using the internet.

Old fashioned pranks that few would have known about are suddenly becoming crimes that are well publicized and seen by the masses.

Technology has taken ordinary adolescent cruelty to another level. And malicious rumors or images can destroy reputations in days, or even hours.

"With the access that kids have today with instant communication, it's hard for them to understand what the repercussions can be instantly," said Cindy Bloch.

Eyewitness News used our webcam to interview Cindy Bloch who works in the state's office for missing and exploited children. She says in the hands of a modern-day bully, cyberspace is a potent weapon and it's unforgiving.

"Years ago you would be able to bully someone or harm them and apologize, but in the digital age we live in now, it's hard to take something back like that."

In March a 17-year-old girl on Long Island took her own life after a series of online attacks. In January, it was Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts. Tyler Clementi is only the latest victim.

By all accounts cyberbullying is on the rise.

In a study just this year 21 percent of kids in high school and junior high said they were victims of cyberbullying. 19-percent admitted they've taken part in it.

The study also says 25 percent of all girls said they were victims of cyberbullying, compared to 17-percent of boys.

Experts say cyberbullies can be otherwise good students and good kids whose parents had no idea what they were up-to or what they were capable-of.