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Talking to Teens about Online Brutality

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Important tips on protecting teens against abuse by their peers.


ML has reported on the six girls who ambushed and beat a 16-year-old Florida cheerleader. And now, in a separate incident, a Baltimore teacher was beaten by her students and the assault was also captured on a videotape that was posted on MySpace. While both incidents are unbelievable (and, we hope, isolated), it provides Moms an opportunity to talk to their teens about violence and the Internet.

Our friends at Common Sense Media say parents need to talk to teens about three critical realities they should be aware of in this age of computers and viral videos:

1. Actions have consequences—even in Cyberspace.

• Talk to your kids about what they say on their MySpace, Facebook or blog pages. Remind them that what they say is public and if it is harassing, humiliating, threatening, or disrespectful, consequences can result.

• Talk about cyberbullying. One out of three teens say they have been cyberbullied. Talk to your children tonight about who they know who has been either a bully or a victim. Tell them what the consequences in society and in your own house will be for any aggressive behavior. And make sure they report any harassment to you or another trusted adult.

2. Talk to your kids about the desensitization of violence.

Beatings, stabbings, shootings, smack-downs. They are in every TV show, movie, music video, and video game. And, yes, our children can become numb to violence. The more they see, the more "normal" it appears. What kids see on the screen does impact how they view the world. Consider the age of your children as you use examples. Ask them how they would feel in real life if someone they knew was hospitalized from a beating received at the hands of classmates.

3. Be careful when creating pictures and videos.

Tell your kids never to post anything harassing or obscene. It's clear that the girls in the Florida case were filming the beating with the intent of posting it online. Besides the fact they could be creating evidence of breaking the law, kids must remember that once something is posted, they lose total control over it. It can roam the Internet forever, freely, and be watched by anyone for any purpose. Make sure your kids know how to flag offensive or inappropriate content. Doing so keeps the Internet safe for all.

Will you talk to your kids about violence and the Internet?

next: Art Teacher Beaten on MySpace
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jackie April 10, 2008, 1:25 PM

First the cheerleading student and now kids are having the audacity to beat up their teachers as well? What is going on with this generation?

JasonGoldtrap April 11, 2008, 3:13 AM

When people have nothing to believe in they revert to a more primitive state from which they can rationalize any form of irrational behavior. I discuss this theme in my novel, Sarah Conrad of Eagle Creek.

missfit715 April 18, 2008, 5:03 PM

If myspace and other websites like it are going to allow this type of postings, then for the safety of every human being it should be shut down. At least until society learns how to behave and use this type of medium with respect and dignity.

Tweety's Mom May 1, 2008, 10:14 AM

Shuting down websites is the same as pulling books off of library shelves. We need to teach our children to be responsible human beings! Granted, every child acts out, but teaching them and showing them the difference between right and wrong is crucial in creating a society that has boundaries and compassion.

Tweety's Mom May 1, 2008, 11:12 AM

I have a huge problem with #3 - don’t post violence to the internet! How about don’t become involved in such acts! Where this advice is good for a number of other reasons, it sounds like advice on how not to get caught

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 6:48 PM

Interesting site. Enjoyable reading. I’ve got a single point to give about funny shirts.

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