Child star Mia Talerico of Disney’s Good Luck Charlie has received death threats via social media. The 5-year-old Talerico has become a victim of cyber-bullying at its worst. The threats began appearing on Talerico’s Instagram account in January, and have been attributed to a new level of Internet trolling. In addition to written death threats, Talerico received a meme featuring her face accompanied by a bloody fist. Sources have not confirmed whether Talerico has seen the profanity-laced threats since as her mother manages all of her social media. At present the Los Angeles Police Department are investigating the messages, taking the case very seriously. Whether trolling or not, sending a death threat to a child is the worst type of cyber-bullying. Additionally, death threats are considered a criminal offense in many states. It is morally reprehensible to consider that someone could actually send such venomous content to a child of 5.
Unfortunately, Talerico is not the only minor made victim to death threats and cyber-bullying as of late. In Minnesota, high-school senior Ryan Eichenauer has received numerous letters and media posts urging him to kill himself or be killed. Eichenauer received the death threats in response to a video recently posted on Facebook, where he came out of the closet. In heartfelt sincerity, Eichenauer stated he was “letting the world in” instead of coming out of hiding. While Eichenauer is much older than Talerico, there is no reason that either should have to experience a criminal level of harassment.
Cyber-bullying has been an issue in youth culture for the past several years. Social media communities like Twitter or Facebook were created as vehicles of self-expression and to promote social growth.
Nowadays Facebook and Twitter can be used for slander and abuse. The term “internet troll” was made popular in 2012, and refers to a person who intentionally creates a disturbance. The standard for a disturbance is wildly ambiguous, as the consequences of a negative comment could be fatal. Recall in 2013, when 14-year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed a fatal jump in response to cyber-bullying from her peers. After news of Sedwick’s death was released, bullies posted celebratory Facebook remarks. Both trolls and bullies are out of line to use negative comments to gain attention. At present 95 percent of social media teen users reporting to have seen cruel behavior on networking sites.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), rates suicide as the third leading cause of death among young people. There is an unfortunate correlation between cyber-bullying and self-harm. What is worse still, victims of cyber-bullying can develop severe mental issues. At present, efforts have been made to subdue the abuse of social media. In 2013, Anderson Cooper aired “The Bully Effect” to raise awareness about the grave consequences of bullying. While preventative measures attempt to curtail all forms of bullying and harassment, more legislation is needed to end cyber-bullying. Talerico’s death threats show that new levels of cyber-bullying are still being added, indicating the end of social media abuse is not near.
by Victoria Chuidian