Cyberbullying: Front Page News for the Sioux City Journal

 As reported by Yahoo! News, the The Sioux City Journal's Sunday, April 22, 2012, edition, features a full-page piece with a very clear anti-cyberbullying statement. This follows in the wake of a gay teen committed suicide after being bullied. The Sioux City Journal's calls out the community to stand up and stop bullying. Getting much attention in the past few weeks, the move "Bully" documents the story of 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. who committed suicide after  intense harassment, including threatening cellphone calls and nasty comments posted online, after coming out to family and friends about a month ago.

He died April 15 from what the local sheriff's office described only as a "self-inflicted injury."

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Why Are Teens Sexting?

If you have at least one child and haven't been living under a rock since the invention of the smartphone, you know about sexting. Sexting is the sending of nude or suggestive images via technology.

As a parent, this can be a little hard to comprehend. Why would my kids want to do such a thing? I'd like to highlight a few reasons why kids might get caught up in sexting:

Sexting as Flirting

In the bird world, the peacock with the biggest and brightest tail feathers gets noticed – so he fans them up and struts around just as hard as he can in order to attract a mate. Sometimes, teen sexting might be a little like that. In order to be noticed by the object of their affections, kids might feel like they need to send something racy and eye-catching. Or, a boyfriend and girlfriend may trade sexts in a relationship as a sign of their commitment to each other.

Sexting as a Joke

It sounds bizarre, but it's true. Some kids just send sexts to be funny or gross. They may upload a sexy picture to the Internet for the shock value, or just to prove to themselves that they can. (My guess is that this is often done on a dare or as a result of group think.) They obviously aren't thinking about the potential ramifications of their actions, and haven't matured enough to realize that protecting the privacy of their bodies is in their best interest.

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Cyberbullying and Sexting: What's the School's Responsibility?

Legislators often demand that schools take more responsibility for students who engage in cyberbullying, sexting, or posting fight videos on the Internet – even when it doesn't happen in school or during school hours. One major question many parents are asking themselves is: can a school possibly police their students' online lives? And even if they can, should they?

Actually, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that schools can discipline their students for activities that occur on their own time away from campus, as long as the activities are “disruptive” or “dangerous” to the school or student body. So if a student's online conduct poses a threat to the school or other students (a subjective judgement), they can be punished.

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EduHookups.com Is a Parent's Nightmare

teenagers on computersEduHookups.com is currently only available to college students, but watch out parents. That's how Facebook started.

The site's “about” page says that eduHookups is for “students that believe working hard and having fun are not mutually exclusive” and encourages visitors to “register and put themselves out there.” Indeed. In a nutshell, eduHookups is basically a site for arranging casual, no-strings-attached sex with strangers for students at a select number of colleges and universities across the U.S. (right now, 25 and counting.) The site assures that it's “safer than using Craigslist” because it requires a .edu email address to register and hang out in the site's chatroom or respond privately to the public “listings” of students.

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Is Late-Night Sexting Interfering with Your Teen's Sleep?

sextingDoes your teen have to check her phone the second a text comes in, no matter what she’s doing? Does texting regularly interrupt mealtime and homework time? Does it seem like your teen is constantly “on call”? If so, have you considered the impact texting may be having on her sleep?

Night Texting and Sleep Requirements

Healthy teenagers actually need more sleep than elementary school children: about 9.5 hours per night. But for teens struggling with a texting addiction, getting adequate sleep at night may be a serious challenge.

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Sextortion: The New Consequence of Sexting

sextortionAs the word "sexting" began to gradually make its way into every parent’s vocabulary, we worried that racy images of our kids could get passed on to other kids and embarrass our child. But now a new buzzword – sextortion – is proving how dangerous the practice of sexting really can be.

Sextortion is shorthand for online sexual extortion. When someone posts or sends suggestive photos or video of themselves through an online medium, it can be accessed by Internet-savvy strangers.

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