NEW YORK (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) — Rutgers student Tyler Clementi’s death is a wake-up call for everyone, about the tragic consequences of cyber bullying and harassment.
As CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reports, cyber experts and doctors say college students are especially at risk.
Jeffrey Lieberman studies the brains of suicide victims at Columbia University.
“I was shocked because it’s a tragic development but it’s not a surprise. College-age youth are in an incredibly, psychologically vulnerable state,” Dr. Lieberman said.
Lieberman said the part of our brain that helps control emotions and reactions is not fully mature until our mid 20s. So at 18 years old Clementi faced all the stress of a college freshman, and the humiliation of having an intimate, personal moment transformed into something very public.
“It’s not just a group of friends or even the university student body. It’s the whole world that sees this kid outed,” Lieberman said.
Cyber expert and attorney Parry Aftab says the students accused in the Clementi case should face jail time.
“We need to turn around and say if you violate these laws you’re going to be charged, you’re going to serve time. And everyone’s going to understand how important this is because what you did violated the law,” said Aftab, of Wiredsafety.org.
Aftab said cyber bullying is so rampant parents need to address it head-on as early as possible.
“Whether they’re in fourth grade or they are seniors in college and say things happen in life that you may think we can’t handle,” Aftab said. “Wrong, we’re your parents. We’re here for good or bad. There are things that you may think we can’t handle, we can handle it all.”
She said the other key is education, and has teams of young cyber experts called Teen Angels in middle and high schools nationwide teaching students and parents how to navigate our digital world safely.
Many of the Teen Angels are now in college and plan on starting cyber education programs in their schools across the country – in memory of Clementi.
Aftab is hoping this latest tragedy will inspire more college students to take a stand against cyber bullying. To learn more, click here.