Don’t Give in to Sexting This Summer

Our latest guest post for Internet Safety Month comes from Judge Tom Jacobs, the founder of AsktheJudge, an educational website for teenagers and the laws that affect them.  Here is his take on a big issue affecting teenagers both legally and socially today: sexting

As you know, it only takes a few seconds to pull up your shirt or drop your pants, snap a picture and send it to a love interest. Regardless of your reason for sexting, think twice before actually doing it. It’s an act that may change, or even end, your life.

Your state may have a sexting law. You may or may not know about it or what it says. If you Google the name of your state and “sexting laws” you can read about the consequences for sexting someone. The fact that your state doesn’t have such a law isn’t a green light for you to go ahead and send a sext message or photo to even your closest friend. This is the Internet we’re dealing with. Every post or image has the potential to enter cyberspace and go viral. You can’t take it back once you hit “send” no matter how many times you go back to hit delete or trash.

Consider the case of 13-year-old Hope Witsell. It started out as flirting, but quickly turned into a nightmare. Hope was in middle school when she sent a topless photo of herself by text to a boy she liked. However, it was intercepted by a girl who had borrowed the boy’s cell phone. The girl forwarded the photo to friends and it spread to several schools.

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Star Wars Kid Speaks Out Against Cyberbullies

If your child becomes the victim of cyberbullying, will he or she have the tools to cope? Parents of cyberbullied kids can do a lot to help, but one important one is making sure that they have access to positive role models. One of these is Ghyslain Raza, more popularly known as “The Star Wars Kid”.

In 2003, Ghyslain Raza was an ordinary ninth grader in Quebec. He was trying out for a school Star Wars skit, recording himself stage fighting with a golf ball retriever for a light saber in his high school's TV studio. Without his knowledge, classmates found the video and posted it online, where it became one of the first viral videos on the Internet.

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Cyber Bullying is a Bigger Problem Than You Think

Growing up is hard. Everyone acknowledges the difficulty we have as adolescents in social environments, especially school. The internet has opened the doors to a new level of pain for many individuals, known as bullying and cyberbullying.

Prior to the creation of the internet a bully was the kid that would pick fights and generally demean others. It was done to be hurtful, with no justification. The age of the internet and texting has given rise to a new type of bully, the process if known as cyberbullying and is just as harmful, if not more so, than those school yard bullies of old. 

Cyberbullying is generally accepted to be the deliberate and repeated actions of an individual or group with the use of communication technology to hurt another person. This can be in the form of harassment, threats, malicious comments, and much more.

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Even an NFL Cheerleader Can Be The Victim of Cyberbullying

We were shocked and horrified to see that beautiful Kaitlyn Collins, a former Green Bay Packers cheerleader, was the victim of cruel and malicious bullying on Facebook when a picture of her was posted to an opposing teams fan page. If this can happen to an NFL cheerleader, someone seemingly immune to this behavior, think of how many regular children and teens this is happening to day in and day out. Tim Woda has created some tips that every parent should follow that will help prevent cyberbullying from devastating a child in their family.

  • Understand the technology that your child is using.  Be familiar with all the functions of the sites your child is using including social networks, gaming systems, mobile phones, chat sites, etc. Some of these could have messaging or photo-sharing options that you might not even be aware of.

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The Dark Side Of Sexting

The trend to send sexually explicit text messages and photos (also known as sexting) is something that is seen as harmless by many upon first consideration. In fact, many who read this may have engaged in this type of activity themselves at some point. However, there are some things that those who engage in sexting, are considering doing so, or are the parents of someone who falls into the first two categories should consider. 

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How To Help Your Child with Cyberbullying

Hurtful names. Repeated harassment. Extreme embarrassment. As adults, we’ve learned to recognize the signs of bullying, but when it comes to cyberbullying, parents need to be extra vigilant. The widespread availability of the web and mobile phones have created a rich environment for cyberbullying (defined as using of digital media to repeatedly harass another person). Often it happens without any knowledge of school staff and/or parents.

Although it's difficult to watch your child try to deal with bullying, they don't have to go through it alone. You can offer support and help your child through this difficult situation using a variety of strategies. 

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"Bullycide" Making The Cyberbullying-Suicide Connection

The media loves the phrase 'bullycide,' and the kids like Phoebe Prince who take their lives in the wake of cyberbullying are never far from the thoughts of parents. But are we doing our kids a disservice by stressing the link between cyberbullying and suicide. 

When I picked up my friend's 10-year-old daughter Gabby for art class last spring, I asked her how her day had gone. “Good,” she said. “A guy came to our school and told us about his son, who killed himself because he was bullied.”

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How Olympic Swimmer Rebecca Adlington Deals with Cyberbullying

British Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington is swearing off Twitter during this year's London Olympics because she “doesn't need the stress” of people who post rude, insensitive, or cyberbullying comments.

In her own words, Adlington describes how “most things that I read about myself are not swimming related. They are to do with how I look, which has nothing to do with my performance in the pool.” 

She enjoys the supportive messages, but the inevitable odd comments makes the whole Twitter scene not worth it for her when she needs to focus 100% on her swimming in the Olympic games.

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Teen Olympian Responds to Cyberbully on Twitter

Anybody can be the victim of a cyberbullying. Even an Olympic athlete.

Eighteen-year-old Zoe Smith's Olympic event hasn't occurred yet, but a handful of cyberbullying comments on Twitter put her in the spotlight recently. 

A Twitter user going by the name of Infidel1978 sent cyberbullying messages to the teen Olympic weightlifter and some of her teammates after they were featured in a BBC documentary called “Girl Power: Going for the Gold.”

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Olympic Athletes Get Involved with Anti-Cyberbullying Efforts

Celebrities often get involved in causes, and perhaps no cause is more worthy than ending cyberbullying.

Olypmic Taekwondo coach Jean Lopez and his Olympic medal-winning siblings recently paired up with the organization Youth Aid to raise money for anti-bullying education in an event called “A Night with Olympic Champions.”

Like other anti-bullying programs, Youth Aid believes that education can help empower bullied kids and teach bullies to avoid the behavior.

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Kids Safety on Twitter: 140 Characters You Can’t Take Back

Founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has become an increasingly popular social networking site.  It is used in almost every country and is currently available in 20 languages.  If used properly, it is a great networking tool that can be quite helpful.  Twitter allows celebrities and “regular” people to interact with one another, businesses to make announcements to the public, and friends to chat with one another. I would like to emphasize the word “properly” because many people don’t.  Sadly, it has become another conduit for teens to bully each other. 

Due to the emotional and impulsive nature of teenagers today, many fail to understand that when they publish something on twitter it’s out there and can’t be taken back. I know you might be thinking how much damage can 140 characters really do? The answer is a lot of damage! Teen suicide is becoming a major issue because of cyberbullying.

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Cyberbullying vs. Schoolyard Bullying

Bullying someone in person is soooo 20th century. Cyberbullying is the new way for tweens and teens to bully, and it differs from traditional schoolyard bullying in significant ways.

Most of us know about schoolyard bullying, and have probably seen it for ourselves at some point during our journey through adolescence. Someone might have spread a dirty rumor about a classmate in the hallways at school or scrawled “For a good time call Kathy” on the inside of a bathroom stall with a Sharpie.

But cyberbullying is very different from the kind of bullying we know, for three reasons: 

  1. 24/7 access. The Internet never sleeps. Cyberbullied kids live in a plugged-in world where they feel trapped and desperate because they can't escape from harassing emails, text messages, or Wall posts. They are always aware of them.

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How to Spot a Child Who is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of Internet technologies to tease, humiliate, and harass someone. It might be mean text messages sent at all hours of the day, or degrading comments about someone posted to a website. Cyberbullying can have devastating effects on children, so read below and learn about the issue and how to help your child deal with it.

Spot it: A child who is being cyberbullied may:

    1. Avoid using computers, and other technological devices

    2. Appear stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message or text. Withdraw from family and friends

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Global Perspective on Cyberbullying

Every few months, a new study is released in the United States or the U.K. giving new statistics and information regarding cyberbullying – the act of minors who threaten or harass each other (sometimes with serious consequences) using technology. But what might larger cyberbullying statistics across the globe, not just from one country, look like?

In a January 2012 survey for Reuters News, global research company Ipsos polled a total of 8,600 adults from 24 different countries to get a better feel for cyberbullying across the globe. The countries surveyed were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.

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Two Cyberbullying Victims Commit Suicide in One Month

In spite of October being National Bullying Prevention Month, November saw two very sad and poignant suicides egged on by cyberbullying. 10-year-olds Jasmine McClain and Ashlynn Conner both took their lives just one week apart.

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Depression More Likely in Cyberbullying Victims Than in Cyberbullies

cyber bullyingWe all have heard the old adage that bullies only pick on others because they feel bad about themselves. But when it comes to cyberbullying, that may not actually be as true as we thought.

A recent study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that victims of cyberbullying are more depressed than the kids who bully them, while studies of traditional face-to-face schoolyard bullying show an equal rate of depression among bullies and victims.

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New Facebook Safety Page

Facebook safety pledgeFacebook seems to have more of an interest these days in keeping its users, particularly children and teens, safe from social networking dangers such as cyberbullying and child predators.

In April a revamped Safety Center appeared on Facebook, with targeted safety information for parents, educators, teens, and law enforcement.

After the Facebook-related deaths of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall in March and 18-year-old Nona Belomisoff in May,

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We are pleased to announce that Bark will be taking over where we leave off. The uKnowKids mission to protect digital kids will live on with Bark. Our team will be working closely with Bark’s team in the future, so that we can continue making the digital world a safer, better place for kids and their families. While we are disappointed we could not complete this mission independently, we are also pleased to hand the uKnowKids baton to Bark.
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