`Hate on the Internet’ to be discussed tonight at local middle school

cellphone.jpgTonight (sorry for the late notice) at Piedmont Middle School, hate speech expert Brian Marcus will address a difficult issue: cyberbullying.

The event is co-sponsored by the Piedmont school district and the Anti-Defamation League. It’s from 7:30-9 p.m. at 740 Magnolia Ave., in Piedmont. It’s open to the public.

(photo by Nate Steiner, from Flickr.com

I haven’t delved so much into “cyberbullying” since I started covering the education beat. Maybe I was put off by the frenzy over MySpace and the horror stories about children’s lives being upended by predators or mean classmates. Kids can be mean, and they have always had the capacity to make their peers miserable, so I didn’t want to act like this is all some new development.

Still, it seems as though cattiness that many of us experienced (and abetted) in middle school has become harder to escape. Middle school was hard enough for a socially awkward kid like me to endure in the early 1990s, without the help of cell phones and the Internet. Here’s a quote from the event flyer:

“One day this girl I considered my friend started sending me instant messages, calling me names and making fun of me because I had lost my right leg in a car accident as a child growing up in Peru. She even set up an online profile for me: “Name: spic. Location: border hopper. Gadgets: peg leg.’ I tried to protect myself, pretending like I didn’t care, but on the inside I was falling apart.” 

I welcome your thoughts and stories on the subject.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.