According to Mr. Keating his experience "as a former teacher, a parent of three children, and an attorney representing schools, the law, while well-intended, is fraught with problems and has already led to unintended and unfortunate consequences." Mr. Keating looks at the law similar to the No Child Left Behind Act, "No Teeth" The most acute is how it impacts the critical relationship between schools and parents. The statute does not put any responsibility on parents to stop bullying. Worse, rather than foster a shared approach to stop such behavior, the statute actually undermines any meaningful communication between parents and schools.
Faced with the specter of criminal charges against their children if their behavior is deemed to constitute bullying, parents have shown a reluctance to cooperate fully with schools, in some instances choosing to “lawyer up’’ and stop all communication. Ideally, parents would work with schools to help educate students about why bullying is wrong and step in immediately to help stop any bullying activities involving their children Keating says.
None the less parents must remain active and diligent with the children and pre-teens when it comes to technology. Digital Citizenship is a growing concept regarding the proper use of technology, but as parents we have failed to provide our children with the right tools to properly on how to properly use them. How else are they to act, badly, why because their is no guidance. Here are some examples of things that as a parent you can look for and speak to your child about. But look for a future posting about Digital Citizenship and Digital Respect.
Instant Messaging/Text Messaging Harassment
- Kids may send hateful or threatening messages to other kids, without realizing that although it is not said face to face, unkind or threatening messages are hurtful and very serious.
- Children used to tease each other in the playground; now they do it on Web sites. Kids sometimes create Web sites that may insult or endanger another child. They create pages specifically designed to insult another kid or group of people.
- Kids also post other kids' personal information and pictures, which put those people at a greater risk of being contacted or found.
Sending Pictures through E-mail and Cell Phones(Sexting)
- There have been cases of teens sending mass e-mails to other users, that include nude or degrading pictures of other teens. Once an e-mail like this is sent, it is passed around to hundreds of other people within hours; there is no way of controlling where it goes.
- Kids often take a picture of someone in a locker room, bathroom or dressing room and post it online or send it to others on cell phones.
- Who's Hot? Who's Not? Who is the biggest slut in the eighth grade? These types of questions run rampant on the Internet polls, all created by yours truly - kids and teens. Such questions are often very offensive to others and are yet another way that kids can "bully" other kids online.
- Many kids today are playing interactive games on gaming devices such as X-Box Live and Sony Play Station 2 Network. These gaming devices allow a child to communicate by chat and live Internet phone with anyone they find themselves matched with in a game online. Sometimes the kids verbally abuse the other kids, using threats and lewd language. Sometimes they take it further, by locking them out of games, passing false rumors about them or hacking into their accounts.
Sending Malicious Code
- Many kids will send viruses, spy ware and hacking programs to their victims. They do this to either destroy their computers or spy on their victim. Trojan Horse programs allow the cyberbully to control their victim's computer remote control, and can be used to erase the hard drive of the victim.
Sending Porn and Other Junk E-Mail and IMs
- Often cyber bullies will sign their victims up for e-mailing and IM marketing lists, lots of them, especially to porn sites. When the victim receives thousands of e-mails from pornographers their parents usually get involved, either blaming them (assuming they have been visiting porn sites) or making them change their e-mail or IM address.
- Posing as the victim, the cyberbully can do considerable damage. They may post a provocative message in a hate group's chat room posing as the victim, inviting an attack against the victim, often giving the name, address and telephone number of the victim to make the hate group's job easier. They often also send a message to someone posing as the victim, saying hateful or threatening things while masquerading as the victim. They may also alter a message really from the victim, making it appear that they have said nasty things or shared secrets with others.
Cyber bullying by Proxy:
- Often people who misuse the Internet to target others do it using accomplices. These accomplices, unfortunately, are often unsuspecting. They know they are communicating irate or provocative messages, but don't realize that they are being manipulated by the real cyber-harasser or cyberbully. That's the beauty of this type of scheme. The attacker merely prods the issue by creating indignation or emotion on the part of others, can sit back and let others do their dirty work. Then, when legal action or other punitive actions are taken against the accomplice, the real attacker can claim that they never instigated anything and no one was acting on their behalf. They claim innocence and blame their accomplices, unwitting or not. And their accomplices have no legal leg to stand on.
- It's brilliant and very powerful. It is also one of the most dangerous kinds of cyber harassment or cyberbullying. Children do this often using AOL, MSN or another ISP as their "proxy" or accomplice. When they engage in a "notify" or "warning" war, they are using this method to get the ISP to view the victim as the provocateur. A notify or warning war is when one child provokes another, until the victim lashes back. When they do, the real attacker clicks the warning or notify button on the text screen. This captures the communication and flags it for the ISP's review. If the ISP finds that the communication violated their terms of service agreement (which most do) they may take action. Some accounts allow several warnings before formal action is taken. But the end result is the same. The ISP does the attacker's dirty work when they close or suspend the real victim's account for a "terms of service" violation. Most knowledgeable ISPs know this and are careful to see if the person being warned is really being set-up.
- Sometimes children use the victim's own parents as unwitting accomplices. They provoke the victim and when the victim lashes back, they save the communication and forward it to the parents of the victim. The parents often believe what they read, and without having evidence of the prior provocations, think that their own child "started it."
- This works just as easily in a school disciplinary environment, where the cyberbully hopes to have the school blame the victim. That's why those in authority should never take any cyberbullying at face value before doing further investigation.