I read your Aug. 8 editorial, “Cyberbullying not responding to school efforts,” with interest.  I agree with the editorial’s perspective that schools should have the tools they need, to do their job. But given the incredible increase in the needs of Maine kids resulting from poverty, the opioid epidemic, food insecurity, etc. and given our underfunding of public schools, adding one more burden seems unfair and unrealistic.

It occurred to me that there would be no cyberbullying if there were no cyber to make it possible. Why don’t we hold responsible the platforms where bullying takes place, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Our tech geniuses have figured out how to make mountains of money from us; they’re very smart when they choose to be. It’s time they be held responsible for the damage their inventions have caused, cyberbullying being one of them.

Could Maine legislators enact a law requiring these platforms to kick any student off their site if they meet the legal criteria for cyberbullying? Why not make it possible for parents of kids who are bullied to sue websites that hosted bullies if their behavior meets the legal criteria?

Could the attorneys general of all the states create a lawsuit against the primary websites through which kids are bullied, on behalf of the hundreds of families who have lost their children to suicide as a result of cyberbullying?

Even without the problems created by the internet, our schools need more social workers. But let’s think a little more broadly about cyberbullying, and until they get it right, let’s hit some of the tech platforms right where it hurts —bin the pocket book.

 

Emanuel Pariser
Waterville

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