The New York Times this week ran (published) a story about online bullies. A bully, as we discussed in ESL Podcast 372, is a person who uses either verbal (spoken) or physical violence to prove his or her own strength, power, or position over another person. The term is usually associated with (connected to) schools, where some students (usually, but not always, boys) try to intimidate (scare; make fearful) other students into doing what they want.
The newest form of bullying (note that “bully” can be a noun or a verb) is online or cyber-bullying, where students use the Internet or phone text messages to scare or intimidate other students. This usually happens when the students are at home, not in school, but some parents think that the schools should discipline (punish) online bullies even if they do their bullying outside of school. This has always been a difficult area for schools: Should they punish students who misbehave (act badly) when they are not in school, or only when they misbehave in school? There is no easy answer to this question, and every school in the U.S. deals with (handles; takes care of) the problem differently.
To pull (someone) into (something) means to involve someone in an action or situation when that person doesn’t really want to be involved. A fray is an argument, fight, or contest. So the headline means that students who are harassing (bullying) other students using the Internet or texting are forcing schools to get involved in an area where many of them don’t want to be involved — punishing students for bulling outside of school.
For some possibly tragic (very sad) consequences (results) of bullying, see our English Cafe 242.
Should schools discipline students who misbehave outside of school hours? How do schools in your country handle this problem?
Photo: Scene from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Public Domain