Dr. Michelle Golland: The parents of Jessica Leonhardt, the 11-year-old girl who recently posted an extremely offensive YouTube video, are in serious denial about the issues related to their young daughter. She is a troubled and angry tween who is clearly in need of counseling. Honestly, the parents also need some serious intervention as well. No child posts this type of video unless she is struggling with conflicts with peers or has low self-esteem. It seems that Jessi's young life was spinning out of control -- virally, no less. It also appears that Jessi had posted sexually explicit photos of herself, which is of serious concern given her very young age.
Dianne Leonhardt, Jessi's mother, was recently interviewed by momlogic -- and she appears to be in total denial. Jessi's father is out of control and unable to keep his anger and emotions in check, even on video. The fact that Jessi's parents posted a YouTube video in response to their daughter's viral video shows that they are modeling this immature behavior to their child.
I hope the Department of Children and Family Services becomes involved, because it can be an opportunity for these parents to receive counseling on the importance of being more connected and diligent parents to their young daughter. It seems that Jessi is desperately crying out for help in a very dangerous way. The lack of supervision seems unequivocal at this point.
It is disturbing that Dianne has not viewed the videos. Jessi must be held accountable by her parents for her behavior -- and how, as a mother, do you address any of the concerns without viewing what your child has actually posted?
The mother's complacency about not being able to watch her daughter 24/7 is an old excuse that, as we know, just doesn't fly anymore. There are many ways to control what your kids do on the computer, starting with: She doesn't use it unless you are in the room with her, no cameras are allowed, or the computer is simply taken away from her. Given what has taken place, it is obvious that Jessi should not be allowed on the computer at all.
As parents, we can use this as a teachable moment for our tweens and teenagers. I would suggest having a discussion about viral videos and how dangerous posting pictures of yourself can be. Videos and pictures can spin out of control, and the damage can never be undone. You could show parts of Jessi's YouTube video to your kids to illustrate how ridiculous and offensive Jessi is being. Ask them what they think of her attitude and behavior. You can discuss how it seems that she felt bullied as well, and how ineffective her response (and that of her parents) was. It could also allow you to ask about any bullying or cyberbullying they or their friends may have experienced.
Teenagers don't understand the consequences of their actions, and this story allows you to play it out for them in a very concrete manner. Will Jessi Slaughter's life EVER be the same?