Finally…A TV show gets teen cyberbullying right!

Did you catch Harry’s Law the other night? If not, you missed a fantastic episode on teen cyberbullying.

The episode covered the complex social dynamic that typically leads to bullying and teen bullying:

*socially awkward teens being taunted by the “popular teens”

*closeted gay teens and the impact of tht

*the ways teens act out when feeling marginalized from taunts to blogs

In this episode, a teen feeling marginalized and taunted by other teens began a blog to direct her anger. Over time, the blog grew and her targets grew. Her last victim was a girl named Hannah, a girl who had previously picked on her who also turns out to be a closeted lesbian. This teen, Sela, outed Hannah in her blog and Hannah ended up committing suicide.

Given this is a legal drama, I’m sure you’re not surprised that charges were brought against Sela for Hannah’s death. Harry was brought into represent Sela.

The court room scenes are with watching, especially the closing argument of Harry. In her statements, she points out some issues with the big picture that are compelling and often not discussed openly when situations like this occur in the real world. The main issues she raised include:

1. “Snarky” blogs and mean-spirited journalism is the norm in today’s society. She gave the examples of the Huffington Post, Daily Beast and Perez Hilton

2. “Cruelty sells and sells big”, which is why these media outlets exist and thrive.

3. The message to not discuss “gayness” openly is entrenched in our society. Harry pointed out that men and women can serve in our armed forces and be killed protecting our country but, until recently, could not admit to being gay. Hannah sadly grew up feeling she had to keep her sexual orientation a secret due to the current norms of society.

4. Harry points out the situation is a suicide, not a homicide.

5. Her final points:

a. “This is who and what we are as a nation so please let’s not lay this on Sela”

b. The responsibility for this situation is on many hands. “Don’t blame 1 kid with a snark blog”.

You can watch the closing argument yourself here. Start at 30:35.

Sela was found not guilty.

This episode drives some important points home:

1. Cyberbullying is multifactorial and we have to remember that.

2. Everyone loses in situations like this and everyone needs help – the perpetrator, the victim, and the families.

3. More times than not, these cases are not criminal and should not be treated as such. Instead, we need to focus on prevention and education.

4. Mean-ness is pervasive in our society. Perhaps if we work on that, these incidents will not only become less frequent as story lines, but as real life situations.

I have a theory that we were nicer as a society before technology took over to the degree it has. I’ll post more on this soon.

 

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