The dangers and consequences of “sexting” [ Fox29, 18/11/2015]

SAN ANTONIO — Sexting can lead to some pretty serious trouble, and often times a child may not understand the consequences.

“When the damage is done, these kiddos, they’re devastated,” said Clarissa Zamora, the Director of Education at Child Safe.

A harmless conversation could lead to something harmful, and someone may even ask your child to take an inappropriate picture.

“Hey, if you care about me, you’ll send me this picture, or if you love me you’re gonna send me this picture,” Zamora went on to say.

Sexing could lead to a potential Class C misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $500 fine.

“It may seem like a very small charge, but that’s still something that’s going to go on your record,” said Officer Doug Greene with the San Antonio Police Department.

Zamora tells Fox San Antonio, while parents can talk to their children about sexting, they can also keep track of what they are doing on their cell phone by downloading an application on their phone.

“You can monitor texts, you can see what’s going to be sent out, you can see what photos are being sent out,” Zamora added.

Several Canyon Middle School students received disciplinary action after the school district says the students shared inappropriate and potentially illegal images via cell phone.

Canyon Middle School sent a letter home with students on Tuesday about the incident, and adds none of the images were taken on campus.

A spokesperson for Comal ISD sent the following statement:

“It is important that students understand that what they post in cyberspace may have not only have disciplinary consequences, but more importantly a potentially negative impact on their reputation. We are encouraging parents to use this incident as a teachable moment with their kids, and to be an active participant in their child’s digital life.”

Bully That: Tips for Kids and Parents for Dealing With Bullies. [ Huffington Post, by Jamie Davis Smith, 20/7/2015 ]

Bullying can start very early and can even be seen among kids who are still in pre-k.

According to Dr. Craig Bach, VP of Education for The Goddard School, bullying can have long-term consequences but the earlier children learn to respond to it the less likely it is to have long-term consequences.

Here are some tips from Dr. Bach about what children and parents can do to addressing bullying:

Encourage children to take bullying seriously and work to make it stop when they see it occurring. Tell children not to ignore it because it usually won’t just go away. With your child, use creative intellect to find ways to make it stop. Think of it as a problem-solving opportunity.

Don’t wait until a bullying incident happens to talk to about bullying with your child. Get used to discussing it so it is not so strange when it does occur. Let your child know it’s okay to talk to friends and parents, teachers, and other adults about anything that concerns them.

Let children know they can talk to the bully if they feel comfortable. The can look the bully in the eye and tell them to stop.

If talking to a bully doesn’t work, walk away from the bully. Don’t run, act scared or angry — things that often encourage a bully — just walk away calm and steady.

It is helpful to hang out with other people and avoid kids who bully others. Children should make sure to have friends or a trusted adult around if they think they might get bullied.

Children should talk to an adult they trust and not let bullying happen without other people knowing about it. This can be parent, relative, teacher, school counselor, or friend.

Learn to recognize the different kinds of bullying and call it for what it is. Whether it is physical (getting beat up) or emotional (regularly being left out of a group or teased in a mean way), it is bullying.

Don’t remain silent when other children are being bullied.

There is no magic formula that will work in every situation. There are times when you will need to defend yourself. When those times happen, be calm and thoughtful.

The effects of bullying will stay with children for a long time. Showing confidence and courage in the face of bullying discourages bullying, minimizes its impact. Encourage your child to respond to bullying in ways that will help him walk away feeling as courageous, smart and as good about himself as he can.

Tell children that bullying happens to almost everyone so they don’t feel so alone.

There are several steps parents can take to help their children be prepared if they are bullied or cope with being bullied.

Role-play with children.

Don’t wait until a bullying incident happens to talk to children about it. Start early and talk regularly.

Talk to school officials and make sure the school has an effective plan to prevent and respond to bullying behavior.

Talk to children about bullying and ways to respond. Also, talk to them about avoiding becoming bullies or how they would respond if they saw another child being bullied.

Recognize your child’s emotional responses to bullying. It is normal to be scared and upset after being bullied. Talk to them about it.

Learn to recognize the signs of bullying and keep an open line of communication with your child. However, no matter the relationship you have with your children, there may be times when they are too embarrassed, upset or scared to tell you about it. Demystify bullying by talking about it openly and often.

Talk about your own experiences with bullying, how it made you feel, and how you responded. If you wish you had responded in different ways or had discussed it with friends, teachers, or family members let them know.

Sexting is normal for children: study. [ SBS.COM.AU, by AAP, 15/10/2014 ].

Children now see “sexting” as part of normal life with girls more likely to provide sexually explicit pictures of themselves through social media Smartphone apps, according to an anti-bullying report.

Instances of abuse and sexting, where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices, are on the rise and are having a serious detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of young people, English charity Ditch the Label has claimed.

The British anti-bullying organisation surveyed 2732 people aged between 13 and 25 and had published the findings in its Wireless Report.

The survey revealed that 62 per cent of young people had been abused through a Smartphone app, while 37 per cent had sent a naked photo of themselves and 24 per cent had seen that image shared without their consent.

Girls were twice as likely to send a naked photo to someone than boys, the report said.

While 49 per cent of those questioned said they believed sexting was just a bit of harmless fun and 16 per cent said it was “the normal thing to do”, 13 per cent of young people claimed they had felt pressurised into sending explicit pictures.

Chloe, 17, who did not want to give her surname for fear of reprisals, said she fell into a deep depression after sending a naked photo of herself to a boy she trusted, only to find he had uploaded it to Facebook.

The teenager was being bullied at school three years ago and thought that by becoming friends with the boy the bullying would stop.

She claims he spent three or four months asking for her to send him a naked “selfie” and that she eventually relented under the pressure.

The next day she saw the picture had been uploaded to Facebook and many pupils at her school had seen it.

“He said it served me right. It had a lot of repercussions for me and I fell into a severe depression.

“I tried to commit suicide a few times. It was really tough.

“I didn’t let my dad know because it would have broken his heart. My mum was angry with me but there was nothing she could do but support me.”

Chloe said she contacted Facebook but it took at least two days for the image to come down, by which time the damage had already been done.

The Facebook website says it does not tolerate bullying or harassment and that it has “a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved”.

It claims it also imposes limitations on the display of nudity.

Ditch the Label also looked at the most popular apps used by young people on Smartphones.

Snapchat – an instant photo sharing platform with images being “deleted” after 10 seconds, came top, followed by Instagram, Skype, Kik Messenger – a free anonymous instant messaging app, and Whatsapp, according to the charity.

The survey also revealed that 62 per cent of young people had been sent nasty private messages through Smartphone apps and that 52 per cent had never reported the abuse they received.

A further 26 per cent said they felt like their complaint was not taken seriously when they reported it, the survey said.

Almost half of those who had suffered abuse through a Smartphone app said they had experienced a loss of confidence, while 22 per cent turned to self-harming as a coping mechanism and 22 per cent tried to change their appearance to avoid further abuse.

Claire Lilley, head of Child Online Safety at the NSPCC said: “Sadly many children now see sexting as part of normal life with girls constantly being pestered to provide sexual pictures of themselves.

“It may seem harmless fun but it can often have a devastating end with images that were never intended to be shared being circulated to a massive audience.”

What Causes Your Child to Become a Bully? [ Huffington Post, by Dr. Gail Gross, 14/10/2014 ].

You race to the school, a million scenarios flashing through your brain. Is your child hurt? Was your child bullied?

Then you arrive at the school to learn that your child was involved with the one scenario you never imagined in your head as a parent: your child, it turns out, has been bullying other children at school.

Your child is the bully.

You didn’t see it coming. What should you do?

What causes a child to become the bully?

While there is no one single profile of a child bully, in my years as a researcher and educator, I have witnessed a few different situations that describe the majority of child bullies:

1. Like Parent, Like Child
Children model what they see. If a child is bullied by his/her parent, or is being abused or treated in a disrespectful way at home, that child is likely to imitate this behavior at school. They are learning from their parent that this type of behavior is acceptable.

2. The Powerless Child
Sometimes, the child that bullies is the child who feels completely powerless at home. Perhaps this child is abused, or watches one of his parents abuse another parent and he/she is left feeling scared and powerless at home. This child may attempt to gain back power by bullying others at school.

3. The Forgotten Child
I have seen children who feel invisible at home act out as bullies at school. Children need constant love and respectful attention from the adults who care for them — and they want and need it most from their mother and father. Nobody is more important than mom and dad; children will try to gain approval from mom and dad, from the time they are born until the time they die. If they do not get love and attention at home, they may feel voiceless and un-important. That feeling of invisibility may turn into anger, resentment and then bullying others at school.

4. The Entitled Child
Then there is the child who has been given too much power. I have seen children who are given everything they want, raised without limitations and rules to follow, who then grow up to feel entitled and all-powerful. These children may believe they have a right to bully others at school, since they bulldoze their parents at home.

5. Children Who Lack Empathy
Finally, there are those children who come from wonderful, loving homes with actively involved parents who become bullies. These child bullies may simply lack empathy, like to dominate, are possessive and want power. The wonderful thing about this is that empathy is something that can be taught.

Children Who Bully Are Still Children
It is important to remember that children who bully are still children. They are acting that way for a reason, and they, too, need help and guidance from adults. In my experience, bullies may not have healthy social behaviors, empathy, or coping skills. This has the potential to lead to a lifetime of relationship problems, general parenting problems, and even problems with the law.

Cumbria teens warned of ‘sexting’ dangers [ North West Evening Mail, 05/08/2013]

TEENAGERS are being warned of the dangers of ‘sexting’ as part of a Cumbria police campaign.

Sexting’ is when someone takes an indecent photo of themselves and sends it to a partner or friend – via mobile phone or some other form of technology.

The campaign runs throughout the summer holidays and is aimed at educating parents and carers as well as highlighting some of the perils of online communication.

Detective Inspector Stephanie Brown, of the Public Protection Unit at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Many young people see sexting as a bit of fun, that’s just between themselves and their partner.

“But the truth is once you have sent an image to others you have lost control of it and it can end up anywhere.

“These images could be then used to bully, harass or even locate the person who sent the image.

“My advice is if you wouldn’t like your parents or teachers to see an image – don’t send it.

“If anyone receives an indecent image or text do not send it on and report it to a responsible adult. Technically possessing an indecent image of another minor is a criminal offence and you could be breaking the law.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes said: “I welcome the Constabulary’s campaign especially aimed at keeping young people safe online.

Sexting is not fun and can have significant consequences. It is really important that people use modern technology responsibly.”

Helen Smith, from Children’s Services at Cumbria County Council, said: “I would encourage all teenagers in Cumbria to follow Cumbria Police on Facebook and Twitter for the next two weeks for advice on the dangers of sexting.

“The risk of exposing intimate images of yourself for the world to see is too great a price to pay for a moment’s lapse in judgement.

“If you are concerned about an image you may have sent always tell an adult you trust – which could be your mum, dad, teacher, or a family friend.”

Visit www.cumbria.police.uk/advice-and-information/online-safety for more information.

Minister reacts to Herald expose on boy’s bully terror[ Evening Herald, by Kevin Doyle, 6/4/2012]

CHILDREN’S Minister Frances Fitzgerald has reacted with shock to the fact that a 10-year-old boy was forced out of school by Facebook bullies.

The minister said that the expanding phenomenon of cyber-bullying needs to be stamped out by schools.

Commenting on this newspaper’s frontpage story from yesterday, Minister Fitzgerald said: “God that’s very upsetting. This is extremely upsetting. There is a very serious situation.”

She said that cyber-bullying is now becoming a significant problem for schools.

“It’s as insidious and prevalent as bullying in the schoolyard or anywhere else. It’s quite serious in Ireland. It’s common and we need to tackle it,” she said.

The Herald revealed how a young boy was terrorised out of his school by child bullies who targeted him on Facebook.

Classmates set up a cruel internet campaign against the youngster and also physically hit him in school.

The bullying started six months ago when the schoolboy was punched in the face.

His parents, Gerry and Liza Dalton, spoke openly about how their lives had been affected by their son’s ordeal.

The situation escalated, culminating in the boy being victimised on Facebook and targeted at his home.

The shocking incident comes in the wake of the Phoebe Prince tragedy in 2010.

The 15-year-old Irish girl took her own life after suffering a campaign of bullying in the US.

Minister Fitzgerald told the Herald today that she is determined to help schools and parents tackle cyber-bullying.

“I think schools will have to be very aware of online bullying and they will have to deal with it in the same way that they deal with other bullying. There has to be a mechanism,” she said. “It’s coming up everywhere. The figures are quite high, the numbers that say they are being bullied online as well as face to face. What you have here are parents who aren’t as tuned into the new technology as their kids are.”

She said that parents need help to learn about new technologies so that they can react more quickly.

“I think there is a message in this for schools to be sensitive to cyber-bullying,” she said.

“There are lots of different programmes going on to help parents. Boards of managements are going to have to familiarise themselves with it.

“Schools need to be very clear about what they do with bullying. They have to tackle it, have guidelines in place and guidelines have been issued by the National Education Welfare Board,” she added.

Kids Who Bully Often Get Poor Sleep [ usnews.com, 3/6/2011]

Poor sleep may be a factor in aggressive behavior among kids, according to new research that found that children who bully other kids are more likely to be sleepy during the day.

In the study, researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School found that children with conduct problems at school were twice as likely to have sleep-disordered breathing problems or daytime sleepiness as other children who reported adequate amounts of sleep.

“What this study does is raise the possibility that poor sleep, from whatever cause, can indeed play into bullying or other aggressive behaviors — a major problem that many schools are trying to address,” Louise O’Brien, assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Center and the departments of neurology and oral and maxillofacial surgery, said in a university news release.

In examining elementary school students who had conduct problems, the researchers concluded that sleep-disordered breathing — problems that occur during sleep, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway collapses — could be the cause of their daytime sleepiness. Other reasons for kids’ fatigue, they noted, could include a disorganized home environment or too much stimulation from technology, such as televisions, cellphones or computers in the bedroom.

The study, published online May 26 in Sleep Medicine, suggested that although more research is needed on the link between sleepiness and conduct problems, efforts to reduce children’s daytime sleepiness could help eliminate a significant amount of bullying among kids.

“We know that the prefrontal cortex area of the brain is sensitive to sleep deprivation, and this area is also related to emotional control, decision making and social behavior,” O’Brien said. “So impairment in the prefrontal cortex may lead to aggression or disruptive behavior, delinquency or even substance abuse.”

“But the good news is that some of these behaviors can be improved,” she said. “Sleep-disordered breathing can be treated, and schools or parents can encourage kids to get more sleep.”

To improve children’s sleep quality, the researchers said, parents should:

  • Remove TVs, phones and computers from kids’ bedrooms.
  • Encourage children to get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep each night. That’s 11 to 13 hours a night for preschoolers and 10 to 11 hours nightly for school-aged kids.
  • Make getting enough sleep a household priority.

‘One-In-Three’ Children Suffer Bully Attacks [ sky.com/skynews, by Darren Little, 12/5/2011]

More than a third of young people say they have suffered a severe physical or sexual attack by their peers, according to a new survey.

The report carried out by the charity Beatbullying found that serious ‘child on child’ assaults are having a major effect on young people’s mental health.

The survey of 1,001 young adults found that a weapon was used in 28% of the assaults, a third of those attacked also went on to get in trouble with the police later in life.

Emma-Jane Cross from Beatbullying told Sky News: “Society needs to take action and tackle this epidemic head on as a community and no longer perceive severe bullying to be an issue confined only within the school gates.

“An integrated approach is needed from children and families, teachers, police, local authorities and government – we need robust peer-focused, anti-bullying and anti-violence strategies rolled out across every school nationwide.”

 

Sky News assembled a group of students at Bourneville College in Birmingham to discuss the issue.

Initially they were shocked by the report, but when they began discussing the subject, two of them said they had been severely attacked before.

Given the small sample, it indicated that the survey was accurate within our small group, even given that some may have preferred not to admit such assaults in public.

The consensus seemed to be that while some schools do tackle bullying, others just pay lip service to the issue.

Mike Moore suffered years of physical attacks while he was growing up in Birmingham and now acts as an online mentor, offering advice to bullied children.

 

Even at the age of 22 Mike feels the effects of what happened to him: “Big groups of people scare me unless I’m with a big group of friends.

“Going out I will tend to sit outside where there’s a lot of space, inside I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic but I do pick up where the exits are and choose carefully who I sit by.”

The statistics make for stark reading, until now the main focus has been on the rise of cyber bullying, but it seems more traditional forms are still a major problem.

Some 52% of those asked said they had sustained physical injuries as a result of an attack, a quarter admitted being sexually attacked by a peer.

The main concern of the report is the effect these attacks are having on the victims – almost a fifth of those who have experienced violence have then suffered from an eating disorder, with 17% being prescribed anti-depressants.

 

Shanon O’Donovan, 15, suffered months of physical attacks before the bullying by another girl was discovered by her parents, and now acts as an online cyber mentor.

She told Sky News: “My mum started to see something was wrong and she sat me down one day with my dad and I explained it all to them.

“It’s horrible for anyone to go through – and if I see bullying being done to someone else now I try do what I can to stop it.”

The report highlights the need for teachers and others to keep a close eye on potential victims of bullying.

It is hoped a more cohesive approach to the issue will make a significant difference to an issue which is clearly still a major problem for a significant number of young people.

Anti-bullying strategies: Does ‘walking away’ work? [ annarbor.com, by Char Luttrell, 18/2/2011]

Girl Scout CEO Jan Barker with Alena Buczynski, Kimber Bishop-Yanke, and Maddie Rayner
Girl Scout CEO Jan Barker with Alena Buczynski, Kimber Bishop-Yanke, and Maddie Rayner

Does “walking away” from a bully work? For years well-intentioned adults have been telling kids to “ignore someone who is bullying you and he/she will get tired and stop.” Now, with reports of old-fashioned bullying and cyber-bullying in the news almost daily, some child development specialists are promoting a new approach to the age-old problem. They are counseling kids to stand up for themselves, with confident words and assertive body language.

Sure, it may be easier for teachers, school administrators and even parents to advise kids to “just walk away,” but recent news reports indicate that the problem of bullying is getting worse, not better.

That’s why Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan (GSHOM) brought Kimber Bishop-Yanke, President of Girls Empowered, to the sixth Girl Developers Summit in Kalamazoo in early February. Kimber teaches kids to use their knowledge, beliefs, connections and resources to find their own “voice,” the voice that will give them the power to stand up to bullies. She says that the momentary discomfort that children feel when first confronting a bully fades as they come to understand that they do have the power to stop hurtful comments directed at themselves and others.

Girls Empowered teaches specific language to stop bullies in their tracks. Language such as: “I don’t like what you said about me. “ (first offense) “I told you I didn’t like it when you said that about me.” (second offense) “I will have to report you.” (third offense). Of course, parents and school officials must follow up when kids do report bullies, so that all the children involved will know that unkind behavior won’t be tolerated by adults.

Through Girls Empowered workshops held with Girl Scout troops, schools, church groups and camps throughout the country, Kimber is teaching girls and boys that it is okay to confront bullies, to “Stop the Meanness; Spread the Kindness.” Through Girls Empowered, she has taken her message to 55,000 children and adults.

A second step toward building power is for children to get involved in groups that give them a chance to serve the their community, according to Kimber, who was as Girl Scout leader for six years.

“I always advise parents to get their children involved in a group, at church, school or sports,” said Kimber. “I always encourage Girl Scouting for girls.”

Joining Kimber at the summit were two Girl Scout Cadettes from Marshall, Michigan, who created an “anti-bullying week” at their middle school last spring. Maddie Rayner and Alena Buczynski wanted to honor the life of Phoebe Prince, the New England teen who ended her life after being bullied by her classmates. They wrote “Phoebe’s Pledge” and asked schoolmates and adults to sign it, promising “to not engage in gossip or bullying and to take a stand to support victims of bullying.” Alena’s and Maddie’s work earned them the Girl Scout Silver Award and coverage by People magazine and Nick News.

“Alena and Maddie are two shining examples of the courage, confidence and character that Girl Scouting builds, “ said Jan Barker, CEO of GSHOM.

Is there a bully in your life? [ USA Weekend, by Madonna Behen, 6/2/2011].

What is a bully? Aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching, teasing or name-calling, intimidation through gestures, social exclusion and sending or posting insulting messages or pictures by cellphone or online (also known as cyberbullying).We now know that whether it is online, in the hallway at school or even at the office, bullies are everywhere.

 

Develop a safety plan with your children, such as where they should sit on the bus.
Develop a safety plan with your children, such as where they should sit on the bus.

We see heart-wrenching stories of children and teenagers who have committed suicide after cruel bullying by peers. The painful truth is that 15% to 25% of students in the USA are bullied with some frequency, recent studies suggest. And more than one-third of the American workforce will experience some form of bullying during the course of their lives, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

The news has served as a painful call to action for Americans about the devastating consequences of bullying. Still, the victims — be they children or adults — often don’t seek help or even speak up. Kids, who may think it’s just part of growing up, are too afraid. Adults whose bosses are bullies can fear retribution in the form of losing their job.

“Our society is more aggressive, more warlike, more combative, while traits like empathy and compassion are downplayed,” says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash., and coauthor of The Bully at Work.

So what exactly can you do? Here, we offer advice from the nation’s leading bullying experts on the best way to handle the problem if your child is being bullied.

Don’t overreact.

The first thing to do is sit down with your child and calmly listen to his or her story. “Don’t immediately react emotionally and try to solve the problem,” says psychiatrist Thomas Tarshis, author of Living with Peer Pressure and Bullying. “Any reaction you have will make it harder for your kid to open up to you.”

Keep a precise, specific log.

Record the date, time, circumstances and all relevant information regarding each bullying event, Tarshis recommends. Having documented episodes to describe to school staff members, teachers, administrators and police will help you be taken seriously and track the pattern of bullying behavior.

“Walk your child through the whole story so that you get a detailed run-down of exactly what happened, who else was there, and if there were any adults there, how they responded,” says psychologist Elizabeth Englander, director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. Plus, she says, “you also need to be prepared for the possibility that your child may be less than completely innocent.”

Consider contacting the parents first.

If your child is in elementary school and bullying occurs, Tarshis says, the problem can often be solved by having the parents and the children sit down together to discuss the incident. “Ninety percent of the time, it’s very effective to have everyone meet and talk about why the behavior is not acceptable, that it won’t be tolerated and that it will be met with severe consequences in the future.”

For older kids, contact the school.

Many students in middle or high school who are being bullied fear that contacting school authorities will make the abuse worse, but Tarshis says that’s often not the case. “In our studies, teens say that after they told, things did get better,” Englander says.

Attorney Rana Sampson, a San Diego-based policing consultant and former police officer, recommends writing a letter to the school principal.

“A letter puts the principal on notice that you are serious and that you expect the school to create a safe environment for your child to learn,” she says. In the letter, be highly specific about the instances of bullying and the harm it has caused, such as sleeplessness, lack of interest in school, crying or anxiety. Ask the principal to put in writing the steps the school will take to keep your child safe from the bully.

Take it higher.

Go up the chain of command if you feel your concerns are not taken seriously enough. “Any teacher or administrator who minimizes bullying by saying things such as ‘it’s part of growing up’ or ‘kids need to learn to deal with this’ needs to be re-educated on the devastating mental health and academic difficulties that arise from bullying,” Tarshis says.

Parents need to keep in mind that because of federal and state confidentiality laws, the school can’t tell the parents of the bullied child what action they’re going to take against someone else’s child. If the bullying continues, contact the police. Adds Tarshis, “Ultimately, some families have had to use lawyers to threaten legal action, which usually gets the school on board.”

Educate children about the Web.

You want your kid to be safe, but don’t threaten to take away his computer or monitor his Internet use. “For better or worse, electronic communication has become a set part of American teen culture, and the fear of losing their ability to communicate electronically with privacy may be more traumatic to them than dealing with the cyberbullying they experience,” Tarshis says. Instead, make sure he knows about using good passwords that other people aren’t able to guess and changing his privacy settings on social networking websites so that only friends can see his information.