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Could artificial intelligence put a stop to bullying?

Bullying is one of the most pervasive issues students and teachers face in school today. And whether it is physical, emotional or digital, bullying behaviors have the potential create long-lasting scars for victims.

While schools and districts may adopt policies and programs to curb bullying, the fact is that it can be harder than ever to stop. This is because much of today's bullying occurs digitally or online. However, the answer to stopping modern bullying could be the very thing that makes it so easy: technology. 

Artificial intelligence making a real impact

As discussed in this article, researchers are using artificial intelligence to detect and moderate bullying online. Using specially-designed computers, they are able to scour social media sites and other websites to detect insults and bullying language.

The AI tool was even able to identify less overt types of abusive language, including the use of words like "animals," which can be used to dehumanize people.

Sites like Instagram already use a "bullying filter" to remove or hide comments it deems abusive. And there are various tools that allow people to record and act on bullying or harassment incidents.

Scientists are also using AI to predict whether a person will attempt to harm themselves or end their lives. In one case, efforts to do this were 92 percent accurate.

Limitations on functionality

While the effectiveness of AI is impressive, there are limits to it. First, it had difficulty detecting sarcasm. It also struggled to accurately identify abusive speech, as it is very easy to make abusive comments without using offensive words.

And while AI can be helpful when examining digital interactions on certain websites and social media, there are myriad ways people can engage outside of these sites. This includes making their own page to bully a targeted victim.

As such, stopping and properly addressing bullying will remain a human responsibility. Teachers, administrators, parents and students all play a critical role in stopping this type of behavior. And whether this happens through direct negotiation or litigation, it can keep bullying victims safe.

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