I have a real soft spot in my heart for teenagers, especially the ones who seem to always be targets of bullies. With a disabled teen of my own, it is sometimes hard to watch how other soon-to-be young adults treat her. While she is an attractive young lady, other children her age have discovered the "chink in her armor," which is a speech and hearing problem. She has taken the high road, however, and chooses to try and ignore the slights and indifference that they show her. I suppose with the disability she has, being unable to hear rude comments has been a blessing. Unfortunately, bullying doesn't exist solely on a one-on-one basis anymore. Children can be bullies 24/7, all year long in a variety of intrusive ways.
Facebook has been working with several localities to help stop the latest spate of burn websites, many of which are so-called "ratchet" pages. Ignorant and rude children create pages to target specific individuals, or groups of individuals, usually girls. The girls are labeled as "ratchets" - a name reserved for individuals who behave as if they are divas and perhaps think they are more attractive than their peers. It is also a name used by other teens to describe girls who they feel are overweight, unattractive and not very smart. The teens create these Facebook pages and then invite strangers from around the globe to comment on the appearance of teen girls, with photos that are usually taken from a cell phone. Facebook has stated that as soon as they identify and take down one ratchet page, another springs up in its place.
Being a teenager is difficult. Having your privacy invaded at school in a locker room, bathroom or study hall with an unauthorized photo and spread all over an international website should be criminal. Getting this type of information and photos off of the Internet completely is almost impossible, so where does that leave the victim?
While it would be nice to think that websites such as Facebook and Google could effectively scrub this information from their database, it isn't probable. The victims of bullies can suffer the effects of these actions now, a year from now, and perhaps years into the future when they are applying to a college or a job. If only the bullies would have to endure the same fate with their photos and a description of their activities on the Internet for everyone to see.
Bullying resources on About.com Disability: