Dr. Phil on Cyberbullying: World Wide Web More Like Wild, Wild West, Says TV Shrink

Dr. Phil McGraw on The Early Show.
Dr. Phil McGraw on The Early Show.
Dr. Phil McGraw on The Early Show. (CBS Photo)

(CBS) Dr. Phil McGraw gave congressional representatives an earful on Thursday, telling them that online bullying was a pervasive problem - and likened the World Wide Web to the Wild, Wild West.

"The gunslingers are keyboard bullies," he said, according to CNN. "They are these people that with anonymity attack other students in a way that can completely destroy their reputations. With MySpace and Facebook, email, chat rooms, there are so many of these things with so much power that they constitute weapons of mass destruction when it comes to communications with these kids.".

A survey by the Pew Research Center found that one-third of all teenagers who use the Internet say they have been targeted by cyberbullies, who send threatening messages, forward their text and emails without consent, post embarrassing pictures without permission and spread rumors online.

McGraw said he has received tens of thousands of letters from kids asking for help with bullying, CNN reported.

McGraw spoke at a hearing of a panel of the House Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee, which is considering the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, more commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Some states have already taken action.

Massachusetts passed a bill in May which makes bullying on school campuses a crime and outlaws cyberbullying. The state was pushed to act after 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover and 15-year-old Phoebe Prince killed themselves in the wake of intense bullying.