Bullying – Media Hype or Old-School Problem?


Bullying and cyber-bullying have been making lots of headlines in the past several weeks. There’s increased media attention on the topic (although one does need to question if it’s an epidemic). So, not to be left out, groups are popping up websites to capitalize on the bullying trend.

Let’s face it, bullying has been around as long as there have been people living in community. Long before the internet even…you know, when your grandparents walked to and from school uphill – both ways – in the snow while barefoot…

Creative Commons image by Eddie~S via flickr.com

So, it’s curious as to the media frenzy on this one – and I by no means look to minimize the kids highlighted in various stories in the past several weeks – I mean all those talking heads and radio voices lamenting the bullying that has been going on…chances were they were the target of a bully while growing up or were the person doing the bullying.

Schools have enacted zero-tolerance policies on several things, including bullying. Communities have put in more stringent laws that have more significant consequences for things like disorderly conduct . States have passed anti-bullying laws.


But when someone can pop up a website, then all the better right? That’s where anonymoustips.com comes in.

GeekDad got a press release a more than a week ago announcing the website. In the release we were told:

AnonymousTips.com’s system is independent of any school district or government, so informers can be confident that they are protected from being identified. It can be used to report any kind of bullying, including physical bullying, cyber-bullying and internet harassment, child and domestic abuse, gang or drug activity, and other suspicious or illegal activities.

Schools and agencies across the country have already signed up to receive tips via AnonymousTips.com, and more are coming on board every day. Parents should encourage their local school and police officials to register with AnonymousTips.com to streamline the process of sharing this important and often time-sensitive information.

Please. Again.

Especially when AnonymousTips writes the following when you want to try to submit a tip:

AnonymousTips should not be used as a means to communicate emergency or time sensitive information to law enforcement and/or emergency personnel.

Wait…didn’t AnonymousTips just tell me they were the place to “streamline the process of sharing this important and often time-sensitive information?”

I’m sure the people behind the site mean well, but I’ve gone to the website several times for the past ten days. There is a spot to highlight bullying and to do so anonymously – however I cannot send a note to a single school or community agency… it leads me to believe this web site is a lot of hot air. For several reasons:

  1. Yet another system. Schools and communities already have systems and processes in place for people to report bullying. Why set up yet another account on yet another system when the current ones are likely underutilized?
  2. Lack of granularity. The site allows you to report abuse to either a school or agency in a state and a city. The city my kids go to school in has multiple schools…which one will get the note? What happens if one of the elementary schools signs up but not the high school?
  3. Anonymity can lead to abuse. Someone wanting to *cough* be a bully *cough* can put something on this site (at least whenever a school or agency signs up) that is completely false. It wastes the time of the people assigned to investigate the anonymous charge and reduces the effectiveness of ‘yet another system.’
  4. People are best dealt with face to face. I can yammer and type all I want and never do anything to change a person’s behavior – especially when anonymous. If you’ve got an opinion or a stance on a situation, put on your big-boy or big-girl pants and put your name with it.

Now, with the helicopter parent parenting style being in vogue, several people will just act more like talent agents than parents and do everything in their power to ensure their little prince or princess never sees a moment of difficulty. All the while leaving them unprepared for the real world. Is it any wonder more than half of college grads these days are moving back home?

No one wants their child bullied even though we know it will happen. We just don’t need yet another website trying to solve a problem best handled at the local level instead of trying to be the clearinghouse for the nation.

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