Monday, July 27, 2009
Cyberbullying Topic On Paltalk
As August nears, parents and their children can already see a new school year just around the corner. In the past, kids used to be concerned with getting picked-on by bullies in the playground during recess or in the hallways in between classes. But child and adolescent mental health legal expert Carolyn Reinach Wolf sees a disturbing trend in teen violence going from face-to-face confrontations to aggressive attacks via the Internet.
And if schools do not address how to protect students from cyberbullying and parents do not demand that safeguards are put in place to keep their children out of harm’s way, the consequences can be deadly and schools may be liable.
In recent years there has been a rash of suicides as a direct result of cyberbullying.
Fifteen-year old Iain Steele of Western Springs, Illinois hanged himself with a belt after being assaulted by schoolmates in cyberspace, where students posted a video on Facebook making fun of his taste for heavy metal music. Thirteen-year-old Ryan Patrick Halligan of Essex Junction, Vermont hanged himself after he was repeatedly sent instant messages from middle school classmates accusing him of being gay. Thirteen-year-old Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri killed herself after she was taunted through social-networking website Myspace.
A recent study reveals 45 percent of preteens said they have been cyberbullied at school, and 30 percent of teens say they've had the same experience.
Wolf, founder of Campus Behavioral Health Risk Consultants says school policies are outdated and do not address how to monitor and prevent cyberbullying attacks on social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace or YouTube.
“Schools have failed to keep up with the newest types of bullying,” said Wolf, the mother of three. “And as a parent and lawyer, I would hold the schools accountable for anything that happens under its roof.”
According to Ms. Wolf, schools have a myriad of tools at their disposal to combat cyberbullying, but most are not using them, including monitoring computers, blocking social network sites from school computers and enforcing a no-text messaging rule while school is in session.
“Unfortunately, most schools are asleep at the wheel and are not taking proactive steps to prevent an attack,” Wolf said. “They prefer to say, ‘It won’t happen to us.'' Wolf says, before dropping your kids off on the first day of school you should talk to administrators about what they are doing to prevent online violence.
Wolf will be my guest, tomorrow, July 28 on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com at 5 PM New York time.