[Screenshot via WHOTV]
The word Melcher-Dallas high school is searching for is ... Videojacking.
An Iowa high school ruled that several videos students took of another student, Levi Null, 13, who has
Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD--doesn't "meet the criteria" for bullying and the school board President, Bob Lepley, says he stands by the principal's decision (via Gawker
The students videotaped Null's involuntary movements
without his knowledge or permission and posted them online with school computers. Further, they videotaped other kids hitting, smacking and teasing Null.
Cyberbullying is the use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.
Though I personally did not view these videos (Melcher-Dallas high school
claims they've all been taken offline and destroyed), the very existence of them is a cyberbullying tactic known as Videojacking: When someone videotapes a target without his knowledge/approval and uploads the video to a popular video-sharing websites.Here is the news story on WHOTV
. It is quite obvious to anyone that Null felt harassed, threatened and intimidated. This school has set a dangerous precedent to refuse to categorize these students' behavior as cyberbullying. Moreover, they had an opportunity to re-evaluate their school policy to further define a tactic they clearly had no previous experiences with and update the policy to protect this student from mob-like behavior. But they didn't. That alone is hard to believe, but when, according to WHOTV,
the students used school computers to upload these videos--there were still no consequences
, I have to ask:
is it any surprise that kids constantly report they feel unsafe at schools when so many adults on the other side of the Digital Divide are operating with an inadequate understanding of what they're up against?
Earlier this month, a 15-year old from St. Petersburg, FL was arrested for sending “hundreds of threatening text messages” over the course of eight days to former friends. Some were even death threats. The suspect used a smartphone app called Kik Messenger
, which happens to be the cyberbullying app du jour, also used in the Rebecca Ann Sedwick cyberbullying case that contributed to her suicide. Kik allows users to send text messages from an Internet Desk Top to cell phones.
The tactic is called “text bombing” Huffington Post
writer Ann Brenoff deftly addresses this tactic in her article, “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Text Bombs.”
Her article did a great job identifying some of the apps used to do the cyberbully’s “dirty work,” but before we get into that, let’s drill down a little deeper into the motivation behind text bombing.
With text bombing, there are two ways to inflict harm.
The first way, like most cyberbullying tactics, is rooted in emotional conflict. The ex-friend, the ex-beau, the jealous peer, etc. lashes out in anger, and in extreme moment, repeatedly texts the most hurtful thing anyone can think of, e.g., you don’t matter. Go kill yourself. I will find you and destroy you.
For example, in the St. Petersburg case, the teen suspect learned that one of her target’s relatives had recently committed suicide, so she began bombarding her ex-friend with messages to do the same.
The second way to text bomb relies on apps to do the dirty work by sending a message hundreds of times as a way to harass the target, break their phone or even cost them money. Popular text bombing apps mentioned in Brenoff’s article included SMSBOMBER (Android) and SMSBARRAGE before the Google App store got wise to it and banned them. However, these text-bombing apps can be found anywhere. A simple Google search finds more SMS bombing apps like those from Cydia
that anyone can learn to use in minutes.
With my cyberbullying columns, I’m always trying to identify the latest tactic and provide educators and parents with technological and behavior tips to prevent it.
First the tech tips: The way to block multiple duplicated messages from any sender is through Anti-SMS Text Bomb
(Android). The link to this page also includes several other anti-sms bombing apps for other phones.
And according to NY Daily News
, there’s a new app being developed, called STOPit, which students download to their phones. It enables students to easily capture malicious behavior with their Apple or Droid smart phone and send it to adult contacts or officials with the touch of a button — and in some cases anonymously.
As usual, the public reaction to this text bomb tactic is shrill, bordering on exasperation. Said one HuffPo
commenter: “Here's an idea.....don't give a cell phone to a kid [who] doesn't think that each and every keystroke equals $$$$$$. If they are STILL too young to understand the value of a $ then they are too young for a cell phone.”
According to the latest Pew Internet and American Life study on Teens and Technology (March 2013) 78% of teens (12-17) now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones. An earlier study in 2010
, found that most teenagers with cell phones have family plans paid by their parents.
When you give a child or teenager a cell phone or computer of any type, you are giving them limitless power to do good or to do harm. And likely, you are footing the bill, so you already have leverage for encouraging their ethical behavior around texting.
An ongoing conversation needs to accompany the privilege of owning a smartphone. Do you discuss with your child:
- Sending any form of text bomb is considered harassment and will not be tolerated. Do you spell out the consequences for this behavior?
- Does your child know they don’t have the right to say anything they want? Anytime a child’s language approaches bodily threats and harassment, it is not protected by freedom of speech and it is quite conceivable he or she can be arrested.
- Does your child know some states are considering holding the parents’ liable for the child’s cyberbullying actions?
The tools, the tactics and the technology are all going to change. Six months down the road; we are likely going to have a whole new set of apps and digital devices connected with cyberbullying. But the conversation between kids and their parents (and schools) should be about the expected and appropriate behavior
when handed a technological device. Are you having that conversation already? Kay Stephens is the co-author of the award-winning book Cyberslammed, sponsored by Time Warner Cable. She is currently running a Kickstarter campaign called ETHEL IS HOT (LOL) featuring the runty-but-cute Ethel, 12, who goes to a science and leadership school in Maine. Ethel gets duped by an all-out cyberbullying campaign orchestrated by two girls looking for YouTube fame.
To cap off October's National Cyberbullying Prevention Month, we're offering a free Kindle download of our award-winning cyberbullying manual for adults, titled Cyberslammed
™ next week. ($25 value)
It will be available for two days on Amazon Nov 5 & 6, 2013. Click here
for the Amazon link.
Sponsored by Time Warner Cable, Cyberslammed
examines the six most common tactics of cyberbullying. It is jam-packed with tactical advice to help parents, educators and students in 5th-12th grade quickly analyze the underlying conflict and work toward its solution with the least harm done.
In 2013, it won first prize
in IndieReader's nonfiction awards. It has 6 reviews with an average 5 star rating.
There are only two days this award-winning cyberbullying book will be offered for FREE on Kindle on Nov 5-6. Take advantage and get informed!
Facebook screen shot via www.komonews.com
It's back to school, 2013 and sadly, another year starts off with another story of a 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide. According to news reports, Rebecca Ann Sedwick endured more than a year of harassment, online torment and threats from a group of girls before she broke down completely and made the sorrowful choice to end her life. As many as 15 girls may have been involved. According to the International Business Times article:
"There were strong indications that Rebecca committed suicide due to being bullied online. Social media applications on her phone showed messages like 'Go kill yourself' and 'Why are you still alive?' the Ledger reported."Most suicide and cyberbullying experts are not as comfortable as the media is in making such a strong correlation of cyberbullying to suicide as numerous (unreported) factors might have also played a part in Sedwick's decision, but the point of this blog is to analyze the methods of cyberbullying tactics and try to provide communities with insights on how to identify and prevent an attack from happening to children you care about.The article went on to state:
"Judd said detectives are trying to investigate the social media applications that Sedwick used, including Kik and Ask.fm, but many of the websites are based in other countries."First the technology:Ask.fm, we already know, is a sketchy website
operated in Latvia and is
a popular social networking website among teens where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity. I've seen many Ask.fm profiles and the callousness and viciousness from "anonymous" users is rampant. No kid should be using Ask.fm in my opinion, unless you're looking to be slammed and cyberbullied. (In the latest twist, some kids troll themselves on Ask.fm hoping to get their friends to protect them and write good things about them in a desperate bid for attention. Source: 2paragraphs.com
)After a spate of high-profile teen suicides that have been connected to Ask.fm, the company has vowed to have better regulations including
making a "report" button more prominent on the site; hiring more staff to moderate comments; and creating a "bullying/harassment" category alongside the existing categories of "spam or scam," "hate speech," "violence" and "pornographic content."I don't know if the girls who were telling
Sedwick to "go kill herself" did it on Ask.fm, or through Sedwick's Kik Messenger
, a smartphone app that acts as an Instant Messenger and allows the user to share other features likes videos and images.But we do know from news reports that Sedwick's parents shut down her Facebook account and even had her change schools. Regardless, the cyberbullying followed her when she switched social media mediums (such as from Facebook to Ask.fm)
.From all that I can gather, this is another classic example of A Digital Pile On, what we, the authors of Cyberslammed, have termed a situation when
a group viciously gangs up on one person through Facebook, Twitter, Ask.fm, a group chat, comments or Instant Messaging. Sedwick might have been a target of a Digital Pile On from a multiple tech devices, websites and apps--where the behavior is the same, just the media changes. There is no "armchair psychologist" instant solution
to what happened in Sedwick's case, but one thing is clear: parents and
schools need to be on top of an ongoing cyberbullying situation, particularly when a mob is involved. They need to know exactly how and what their teens are communicating about in the midst of it. Cyberbullied kids are going to be compelled to know what others are saying about them, and will be loathe to abandon social media for fear the bullies will have the upper hand. But, to heal from a cyberbullying situation, the worst thing a teen can do is constantly monitor the ongoing abuse. It's like dying a little death every day. The cyberbullies want to lure them back in, so if they see their target on different social media platform, it will start all over again. Get the teenager away from ongoing abuse
. Make a plan to find peer or adult help to shepherd him or her through this painful process. Demand the school take appropriate action or take it to the next level. And keep vigilant to make sure your teen is still talking to you and working through the situation. At this point, it is smart to have your teen's social media on a keyword monitoring system, to alert you to words like "go kill yourself." Don't take your eye off the situation until you are sure your teen has gotten through the entire traumatic incident without relapse.Know what to do a group viciously gangs up on one person through Facebook, Twitter, Ask.fm, a group chat, comments or Instant Messaging.? Our new Parent's Guide To A Digital Pile On is now available on Kindle for $2.99.
Photo courtesy digitaltrends.com
A Huffington Post article on accidental bullying from author Sue Scheff interviewing iKeepSafe's Katie Greer adds a little more nuance to what has seemingly been a lot of black and white discussion on cyberbullying this past year. Owing to the fact that we're all human and make newbie Internet mistakes (particularly when you're in middle school) this article is well worth the read.
However, I deal with specific instances of cyberbullying and Greer used a very good example of what we, the authors of Cyberslammed define as a "Rating Site"-- when someone uploads a photo to Facebook, Instagram, Vine or a site like "Hot Or Not" and polls others to rate the person in the photo as the fattest, ugliest etc.
"The most common story I get is centered around these beauty pageants (or other like-contests/polls) that are happening all over social networking sites such as Instagram or Ask.fm. Kids know these contests/polls are riddled with negativity and admit to seeing some pretty nasty ones, so many say they have created ones with the intent to make their friends feel good about themselves. One group of 7th graders told me that a contest was set up on Instagram pinning 4 girls against each other, asking people to tag the ugliest of the four. Their friend received the most tags in this mean contest, so they decided to set up one with a positive tone, asking people to vote for and tag the prettiest. All these girls banded together to get their friend the most votes -- not realizing in the process they were unintentionally hurting the three others involved in this contest."
So what is happening is, as kids are flocking to Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Twitter to get away from the hovering parents on Facebook, they are using the same tactics, but on different platforms. The Rating Site on Instagram pits someone as the "ugliest." We've seen that before. What Greer is talking about is sort of a Reverse Rating Site, where the girls were trying to balance the wrongs by setting up a poll on Instagram to rate the prettiest girl--not realizing that by doing so, the unspoken assumption was that the other three were not pretty.
Anyway, yes, that is accidental. Is it cyberbullying? Some who don't know the whole story would definitely see it that way. That's why we need to approach every cyberbullying situation with an open mind and a willingness to gather ALL the various perspectives and facts. It's not black and white--never was, and by educating yourselves on this ever-shifting landscape, you will be educating the kids in your life who may not always understand the difference.Know what to do when a group of people use Instagram, Facebook or Internet polls to upload someone's photo and get bystanders to vote for their "ugliest," "fattest," "dumbest" peers? Our new Parent's Guide To A Rating Website is available on Kindle for $2.99
Nichole Cable (Facebook screengrab courtesy Nichole Cable's Angels)
Five Town CTC and I have collaborated on a column to address the national news in Maine (our home state) concerning the death of Glenburn teenager, Nichole Cable and information on what parents and teachers can do concerning youth online safety.
A 20-year-old acquaintance Kyle Dube was indicted with murder and kidnapping in connection with Nichole Cable. From the news reports, he got her to meet up with him by luring her to a remote wooded area under the guise of a fake Facebook account, or what is known as an “imposter profile,” in which she believed she would be meeting the real owner of the Facebook account.
Understandably, situations like these heighten parents’ fears about their children’s safety online. Here are some suggestions on how to broach this topic with your own children.
An imposter profile is when someone creates a fake website or social networking profile in order to deceive the target. In this case, the predator stole the identity of someone Nichole may have possibly known in real life and communicated with her through this imposter Facebook profile. The imposter profile has since been deleted and my understanding is that the FBI fully investigated it.
I have not spoken to the family nor to the police, so I cannot speculate as to why Nichole trusted this man and chose to meet up with him.
What we do know is that predators often “groom” young boys and girls online by befriending them and finding out what they like, what hurts them and what makes them tick in a short amount of time. It’s incredibly easy to find a wealth of information on a teen simply by requesting to be a friend on Facebook. Once the teen accepts the friendship request, the predator looks at what kind of media/music/movies the teen likes, what drives his or her personality and what “angles” they can use to manipulate the impression of having common interests. For example, the predator sees what bands the teen likes on his or her Facebook page and stores that as nuggets of conversational “bread crumbs” by casually mentioning: “Oh you like One Direction? I like One Direction too!” From there, the common interests quickly lead to personal revelations and “heart-to-heart” talks. Pretty soon, the teen feels like he or she has someone special who deeply understands them and might be the only one who knows what they are going through. What parents/teachers can do.
As upsetting as this situation is, Nichole’s story needs to be told to your teenagers as a talking point. Here is an excellent list of tips in how to guide this conversation. Meeting People Online: Dos and Don’ts of Online Relationships for Teens
The number one rule I tell teens is “Don’t friend anyone on social media that you don’t already know in real life and trust 100%.” Everything you upload for content can be used against you, whether to “groom” you for nefarious purposes or in cyberbullying situations as content to be repurposed for malicious reasons.
So many teens shrug off this advice thinking, “Oh, she’s being alarmist. It’ll never happen to me.”
It happened to Nichole and that’s why her story needs to be told.
The other suggestion I‘ve repeatedly made to parents is to implement www.uknowkids.com
app on your teen’s cell phone, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. This free “parental intelligence system” instantly alerts you via text or email if any keywords your teen and someone else are using contain language around cyberbullying, sexting and predatory grooming. You’ll also know whom exactly your teen has accepted as a friend on social media without compromising his/her online privacy.
If you'd like to know more about how to protect your kids from an imposter profile, along with other tactics, join my free webinar on September 30 12-1 pm (EST.) (Note: there is only room for 10 people, so sign up soon.) http://cyberslammed.enterthemeeting.com/m/H4792BAB Kay Stephens is the co-author of Cyberslammed: Understand, Prevent, Combat and Transform the Most Common Cyberbullying Tactics, sponsored by Time Warner Cable. She has done dozens of presentations to Maine schools on specific cyberbullying threats, such as imposter profiles and how to understand, prevent, combat and transform them. To see more posts on this topic, visit Kay Stephens on The Pen Bay Pilot. Five Town Communities That Care is dedicated to promoting healthy youth development and to the prevention of problem adolescent behaviors, including substance abuse, violence, delinquency, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and suicide.
If you're under 18, then yeah
, it's a very bad idea. Worse, if you're over 18 and dating someone younger than 18. Parents of teenagers who are in relationships with cellphones
are you listening?Any nude or semi-nude photos that are transmitted electronically (even just sent via cell phone) are considered in many states to be child pornography trafficking, even if the juvenile is sending a photo of himself or herself. The laws vary from state to state, but here in our home state of Maine, for example, the law is extremely harsh.According to Mobile Media Guard "U
nder Maine law anyone - regardless of age - who creates, distributes or possesses an image of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act may be prosecuted under the State’s child pornography laws and if convicted, may serve up to 10 years in jail and be required to register as a sex offender." Most kids and adults I've spoken to at statewide presentations over the last few months know the term "sexting," but had no idea the stiff penalties associated with it. Furthermore, most adults and kids didn't realize that if they encountered a sext on a cell phone or via the Internet, they, themselves could possibly be arrested for forwarding that photo electronically in any way--even to the authorities! The fact that 36% of Americans (I'm assuming they polled adults) are admitting to engaging in what is called "consensual sexting" is frankly not a surprise. Teens engage in this form of relationship currency all the time. They're calling them "Selfies" self-shot provocative photos, an absolutely beautifully narcissistic way to capture one's youth. Thanks Rihanna! When it stops being "consensual" and begins being cyberbullying is the moment the relationship turns sour or ends. This is the kind of "what would you do" talk you should be having with your teenagers who own cell phones. For example:Parent: "What happens when Joe or Mary decides to spread your image around to all 500 of his/her Facebook friends?" Teen: "He/she would never do that!" i
When 1 in 5
sext recipients report they have passed the images along to someone else and more than half (55%) of those who have reported sending them to someone else say they shared them with more than one person--try saying that again with a straight face. What will be your response?
Frankly mine would be, "I don't want to see your life, your entire reputation, your chances for college and a future job--and most importantly, your self-esteem be absolutely destroyed for years to come over one cutesy 'show me yours and I'll show you mine' exchanged photo. Oh, and I don't want to see you go to jail and have the child pornographer label hanging around your neck for the next ten years either, honey." This Valentine's Day, just give someone a teddy bear and a dorky card, you know, the way we all used to do before cell phones and the Internet.
In Cyberslammed, Hot Topics, we discuss cyberbullying tactics that come from real-life news stories and insights on how to "identify, prevent, combat and transform them."Minnesota
-Recently a group of female high school football fans from one team got into it with fans from a rival team and is so often the case, they took their fight online.
A story in Fox9.com reports
"Officials say at least one of the bullies made a post on Facebook urging a group of girls to go kill themselves...
Investigators say the suicide posts came from a fake Facebook account, and they're still trying to track down exactly who is behind it. "
[Note: If you've followed this blog, you'll know that a "Fake Facebook account" is what we call an Imposter Profile--a website or social networking profile set up by the perpetrator to appear as if it is owned or maintained by the target.]
The story goes on to say:
"Parents should be aware that what they send is often electronically traceable," Hattstrom warned. "If it's offensive or threatening in any nature, basically, you're going to hear from the Police Department."
Kids know that the "Go kill yourself" hot button is the ultimate insult/torment these days, particularly with the rash of international and national suicides that have been linked to cyberbullying this fall. I had a kid ask me yesterday, "How do you know if you're being cyberbullied?" as in when is it a prank and when does it get real?
According to Cyberbulling Research Center
, the true definition of cyberbullying (which we use in the book) is: "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices."
A one-time prank where someone steals your password to your social networking profile and writes some mildly teasing or obnoxious words, while unpleasant, is not really cyberbullying. It's misconduct or peer harassment. But true cyberbullying is a calculated campaign. Keep in mind the words "willful and repeated harm."
Any time some one is threatening you, telling you to go kill yourself, using extremely derogatory language, publishing your private information, defaming you, libeling you....any time words and intent cross the line into criminal behavior, that's when you know it is real. And that's when it is advisable to bring the police into the situation.
Case in point: this story
of a Veazie, ME target of criminal threats brought the police in. And in no time, they found out who the perpetrator was. Kids need to understand that just because you know how to write an anonymous comment via an anonymous account, you are never anonymous. Everyone leaves a digital footprint behind with every keystroke and the police, cyber crimes units and the FBI know exactly how to find the source of every electronic communication.
The rest of the article states:
"Police say they recognize there is a fine line between free speech and harmful threats, but they say charges are possible in this case. If students are behind the anonymous bullying, they will also face punishment from the Anoka-Hennepin School District."
Free speech does not lend itself to threats of any kind. In both the Minnesota and the Maine case, girls crossed the line, venting their frustration, their fears and their anger into something much more malevolent and lasting. And prosecutable. Unfortunately, most cyberbullying cases do not get the attention they need until they are at the highest threshold and become policeable. We need to have in-class or at-home training with our kids about cyberbullying before it's even at its lowest threshold to help them channel potential negative emotions into better outcomes. Stay posted to this blog for more real-life examples of the most common cyberbullying tactics and what Cyberslammed and other Maine resources are doing to provide school trainings.
As part of Cyberslammed
’s research, I’ve been looking into Reputation Management companies since 2007 and the one that has truly impressed me is RegainYourName.com. [Full disclosure: We approached them after Cyberslammed
was published to see if their reputation management services could somehow mesh with the “Combat” section of each tactic in the book. More on how this works below.]
From the beginning, RegainYourName.com
’s interest in protecting kids from online defamation and Sexting came through as a genuine social mission—an integral part of their core values. Imagine being a teenager whose parents have no clue, whose teachers and school administrators are no help; who daily, sees her reputation getting annihilated online and has nowhere to turn. She may get a free consult with other RM companies, but in the end, it will cost her thousands of dollars to get bad content pushed down off search engines. For that teenager? Dead end, once again.
As a UK nonprofit, recently founded in 2010, RegainYourName.com is very helpfully about the DIY philosophy, that is “do what you can yourself—first.” they offer free Twitter, Facebook and website resources along with free email advice. [For teenagers with little real life support, this is a lifeline.] Next, for around $30, they offer e-guides and videos that for example, teach how to remove and report cyberbullying content yourself off Facebook including:
- Report and delete cyberbullying, cyberstalking and privacy issues on Facebook.
- Ensure you communicate with a real person at Facebook.
- Use applicable local laws to remove content.
- Use Facebook’s ‘Terms of Service’ to make a complaint which will result in deleted content.
One of the # 1 complaints I’m starting to hear from parents when their child is being cyberbullied is that they don’t know where to start, who to go to first, and even if they take it to the police, Facebook or the schools, if their complaints are even effective! That’s why I like RegainYourName’s no-nonsense approach.
Regain Your Name was created by a reputation management consultant who had previously worked in education, and a victim of cyber stalking and harassment who knew first-hand what would and wouldn’t achieve the removal of bullying material on the Internet. Drawing on experience of e-safety in education, cyberbullying and social media marketing, they offer advice to individuals, schools and anti-bullying advocates based on our considerable experience in this field. All of their eBook and video material stems from real examples of removing grossly offensive material on the web. All of their free advice is based on strategies they’ve already seen work.
Here’s how their knowledge and expertise dovetails with what we’ve learned. Take Sexting, one of the tactics in our book, for example. While we use a social-emotional model to get to the bottom of motivation behind Sexting, RegainYourName is all about getting that potentially criminal content off the ‘Net. Fast! No wasting time going through the wrong channels when every second counts. They know how to do it and they aren’t holding this knowledge “hostage.” As they told us:
For example – we get a lot of requests for advice on removing pictures resulting from Sexting – from both teenagers and adults. Currently, using copyright infringement is the most effective way to remove these from search results and social networking – by using DMCA legislation. (Since a phone or webcam was used, the copyright is owned by the person who created the image – and not whoever has published it without permission.)
Apart from their online services, they also offer training solutions, speakers for conference events, schools and educational workshops. In a recent email exchange, it’s clear their work empowers students who fear psychological harm from cyberbullying:
I’ve used the removal guides myself with Y8 students in the UK (7th and 8th grade equivalent) with good results. Interestingly it wasn’t the fact the cyberbullying could be deleted after the event, which appealed most to them, it was the prior knowledge that the cyberbullying could be removed which proved most powerful. The ‘threat’ of cyberbullying, partly caused by a lack of knowledge and information, was at least on a psychological level in terms of the level of worry, reduced. Those pupils who admitted that they had been tempted to bully, or retaliate in a bullying manner, also revealed that they would be less likely to do so in future given the knowledge that the abuse was traceable and removable. Not a scientific study by any means – but an interesting basis for a thesis.
In the future, we hope to provide a live Facebook or webinar forum for adults and teens with expert contributors and would like to invite RegainYourName’s founders to answer live Q&A on one of our six tactics topics. Like RegainYourName, and like us, this isn’t about the almighty bottom line. Yes, we have businesses to run, but when teenagers’ lives and reputations are at stake, there is much we can do to empower adults and teens to take back control over their digital footprint.
photo: Mark Van Manen, PNG , Vancouver Sun
I'm sure every pair of eyes were on Amanda Todd's mother when she got up before a group of Metro Vancouver mothers in her first public appearance since her daughter's death.
"If my daughter didn't believe everyone at the end of that Internet was innocent she would be alive today," she said in a November 5 Vancouver Sun story As always, the point of this blog is to examine the tactics used in individual cyberbullying cases and to dissect them as a way to provide parents and educators with teachable moments for the kids in their lives. According to an article in Digital Journal, when Amanda was 12 years old, she flashed her breasts to a boy she'd met online through a webcam she was using with friends.
"Police knocked on her door early on Christmas Eve of that year to tell her the picture had been posted online. This began her slide into depression that included anxiety, substance abuse, and cutting herself."Not knowing the family personally, I can only speculate, but it sounds as if the girls were role playing
a flirty version of "Girls Gone Wild" like it was a joke, a lark.This type of Sexting happens all the time; it's what author Nancy Willard Executive Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use characterizes as a way to negotiate relationship issues, not actual cyberbullying Sexting. At 12, Todd probably wouldn't have thought what kind of terrible consequences could derive from flashing a stranger. But the cyberbullying instantly started with a nasty Digital Pile On as well as morphed offline into physical bullying where Todd was actually beaten up by a group of teens.
In the Vancouver Sun article, Carol Todd told the group: "Amanda eventually came to realize the mistakes that she made from that one night when she was 12 years old," Todd told the crowd, referring to an incident in which Amanda flashed someone on the Internet. "She never thought it would come to haunt her for the rest of her life. It was a mistake - it became a life sentence and in the end, it contributed to her death."Webcams or smartphones--
the technology doesn't matter-when it comes to Sexting, there are multiple reasons to do it and the underlying conversation every mother needs to be having with her daughter before the new phone is handed over is: Can I trust you to protect yourself with this device?
Pre-play with them the various scenarios. Tell her what happened to Amanda, to thousands of girls across the country whose innocent mistakes have come back to haunt them. The Sexting conversation is essential in every household these days, more than any other topic we cover in our book.
The technology will always be available. It's up to us to prevent the behavior. Know what to do a group viciously gangs up on one person through Facebook, Twitter, Ask.fm, a group chat, comments or Instant Messaging.? Our new Parent's Guide To A Digital Pile On is now available on Kindle for $2.99.