Cyberbullying: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Cyberbullying: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

jail pic.jpgWhile some 20-year-olds spent yesterday sunbathing at the pool, frantically applying to summer internships and planning their next big trip during summer break, for 20-year-old Dharun Ravi the day was a bit less sunny as he reported to the Middlesex County Sherriff’s office to start his 30-day jail sentence after being convicted in a cyberbullying incident.

Ravi, the college student accused of reportedly using a Web cam to spy on his roommate and then stream footage online, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, 300 hours of community service and counseling, and restitution in the form of a $10,000 fine.

For those who need a refresher, in 2010, the world was taken aback when 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped to his death after being the victim of online bullying. It all came to a head when an intimate moment between Clementi and another male was surreptitiously taped by Ravi and streamed over the Internet. Since then, the trial of Ravi – who was convicted of bias intimidation, witness tampering, hindering arrest and numerous other charges – has charged forward at full steam.

Yesterday, many who have been following this story for years – and the family and friends closest to Clementi – took baby steps toward some semblance of closure as Ravi took his first steps into jail at around 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

According to reports, Ravi, clad in a navy blue T-shirt and brown jeans, moved silently through the crowd and declined to respond to reporters’ questions. His father, Ravi Pashmani, attorney Philip Nettl and two family friends accompanied him. After reporting to the sheriff’s office, Ravi was taken to the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center, where he allegedly underwent routine physical and psychological examinations and a classification process to determine where he would be assigned — a minimum-, medium- or maximum-security section of the jail.

"It’s hard not to be nervous, but he took it as well and was as prepared as he can be because jail is jail," his attorney said. "He’s eager to put this behind him and move on with his life."

Nettl said Ravi was "calm and ready to accept the punishment he received from Judge (Glenn) Berman."

Sadly, as the world took steps towards healing yesterday, a new tragedy occurred in New Jersey on Wednesday – just hours before Ravi started his sentence – as three New Jersey teens were indicted in the bullying of a 15-year-old who committed suicide.

At a news conference, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said 19-year-old Michael Conway, a Morristown High School senior, and two unnamed juveniles were facing charges resulting from the alleged robbery, assault and verbal abuse of Lennon Baldwin, a Morristown High freshman, in the weeks leading up to Baldwin's March 28 suicide.

"Nothing we do will ease the pain for the tremendous loss to the family," Bianchi said of the Baldwins, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. "When these bullying incidents surround acts that constitute assault, harassment, threats, robbery . . . we will criminally prosecute."

These tragedies are showing no signs of slowing down so I am once again putting out a call to parents, administrators, and kids everywhere to protect one another, to be kind, and to be accepting of one another. Every day needs to be a step towards breaking this harrowing suicide cycle. And no effort is ever too futile.


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1 Comment

I'm still so disappointed with the Rutgers verdict. I was hoping that the judge would use this to set a precedent against online bullying and specifically bullying targeting individuals who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender. It was a chance to say we take this seriously and we will not tolerate hate. Instead, it was a slap on the wrist and stern warning not to do it again. My full thoughts on this here:

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