Posted by: Tammy Cravit | December 17, 2010

A Lesson in Manners

With all the attention being paid to the issue of cyber-bullying lately, here’s a story about a group of cyber-bullies that took responsibility for their activities.

According to the Restorative Justice Online blog, a group of students set up a fake Facebook account and impersonated a teacher online. In the United States, such activity can lead to criminal charges. But the students in this case were in British Coumbia, and were lucky enough to have their misdeed addressed through the Chilliwack Restorative Justice Program.

If you’ve read A is for Asshole, the Grownups’ ABCs of Conflict Resolution, you know that the Restorative Justice movement views criminal behavior as a profound rift between victim and offender, and between both parties and their community. RJ seeks to give voice to the victim and to allow victim and offender to collaborate together to decide restitution and to heal those rifts. In this case, part of the restitution these cyber-bullies made was to publish a letter in their local newspaper saying, in part:

Shortly after, we were caught and realized the potential damage that we could have caused our teacher and his family. If he wanted, our teacher could have laid charges against us. Thankfully our teacher was very forgiving and instead, we were given the option of completing a community service program under the supervision of Restorative Justice.

We are very lucky and wanted to write this message to warn other people because the next person may not be as lucky as we were. So, if you intend to do something silly, stupid and illegal on Facebook or on any other social network, please think twice. We wish we did!

The resolution to this case gives the parties a chance to heal, and I think is better for victim, offender, and the community at large than incarcerating these young people would ever have been. Hopefully this sort of resolution to bullying incidents will become more widespread and we can heal the social and emotional rifts that give rise to bullying in the first place.

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