Posts tagged ‘teens’

Don’t Be a Bystander


Last week, outside of a homecoming dance held at Richmond High School, in Richmond, Calif., a 15-year-old girl was gang raped and sexually assaulted for over 2 hours by a handful of young men while onlookers watched. It was not until one student overheard others bragging about it at the dance that the police were called to the scene. When they arrived, they found the young woman half-naked near a picnic table, less than a block from the entrance to the school dance. (source)

Five suspects have now been charged in the rape and beating of the girl. But what is more astounding is that roughly 12-20 people (according to accounts) witnessed the gang rape over the 2-hour span and did absolutely nothing about it. In fact, some took pictures with their cell phones.

“She was raped, beaten, robbed and dehumanized by several suspects who were obviously OK enough with it to behave that way in each other’s presence. What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening and failed to report it.” — Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan (source)

The Bystander Effect

Some psychologists ascribe the behavior of the onlookers to “The Bystander Effect.” According to studies, individuals are less likely to intervene in an emergency/crisis if there are other people around:

“When something unusual happens, we look to others to figure out how we should react. If we see other people doing nothing, we usually conclude that nothing should be done. The problem occurs when everybody assumes the same thing, a phenomenon that psychologists call ‘pluralistic ignorance.’” (source)

That makes us all sound like mindless animals, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, many studies have found that this is the case, more often than not.

Stand Up. Say Something. Call 911.

It took over 2 hours for someone to call police to the rescue of this teen girl. In the recent case of Phillip Garrido, all his neighbors thought he was creepy and probably up to something illegal. But because no one was willing to push the matter, Jaycee Duggard was imprisoned in his backyard for 18 years.

We might think it is uncomfortable to intervene in a domestic dispute. Or we might think that someone else will call 911. We may even fear for our own safety if we witness the victimization of another. But studies have shown that when people know about the Bystander Effect, they are less likely to sit idly by while someone else is in trouble.

So consider this your education. Don’t be a victim of the Bystander Effect. When you see someone in trouble, being assaulted or victimized; stand up, say something, and call the police. You may prevent this type of atrocious act from happing to another teen girl outside a high-school dance.

For other perspectives on this case:
Rape: America’s Least Reported Crime
Bystanders No More: Teaching Kids to Respond to Violent Crime
Friend of Gang Rape Victim Blasts School Officials Over Safety
Richmond High Rape—What Do We Do With This?

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November 2, 2009 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online

As parents, it can often be hard to keep up with your children’s internet usage, let alone the latest websites, online interactive tools, or technologies. Now OnGuard Online has created a great resource for parents that gives an overview of specific technologies and ways to talk to your kids about their online activities, titled, Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online. The guide is available for free online download, or you can order a free physical copy of the guide as well as reprint it, give it away, or reuse the material in any way that is most useful to you.

Download a free copy here.

Order a free copy here.

(Thanks to iKeepSafe for the tip)

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October 20, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Teens Sued over Obscene Facebook Page

Four Chicago teens are facing a defamation lawsuit over a fake Facebook page they created for a teammate. The four teens created the fake Facebook profile page using their victim’s real name and cell phone number. Once the profile was up, they proceeded to post sexually explicit and racist comments on it, appearing to come from their victim, who they also portrayed as gay. By the time the profile was deleted, the four teens had amassed 580 friends on the fake profile. The mother of the victim, who lobbied Facebook to delete the profile, is now suing the four teens for defamation and emotional stress.

I think we can all agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that the boys who did this should be punished in some way. However, who will actually pay the price for their behavior? Their parents. If these four boys are found guilty, their parents will be paying damages.

This example shows that it is not just the kids involved who are affected by cyberbulling—whole families can suffer as a result. This lawsuit highlights the importance of talking to your children about ethical online behavior. Many teens think that they can get away with anything under the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, but they are wrong. In fact, there are many ways that your identity can be tracked down over the internet, and that’s just what happened to these boys.

As technology progresses, and people begin to carry their internet identity around with them through cyberspace, the illusion of anonymity will breaking down further and further. It is important to start educating your children while they are young about appropriate online behavior (for example, check out Woogi World, a social media environment built to teach elementary school age kids about ethical and safe online behavior). Remember, if your son or daughter is being the bully, you could be the one to pay.


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October 7, 2009 at 4:36 pm 3 comments

Teen ‘Sexting’ Could Label Them Sex Offenders for Life

Although we’ve discussed “sexting,” the practice of sending sexually explicit images through cell phones, before, it’s an issue that bears repeating multiple times and something that parents need to discuss with their teens.

Sexting Laws

A recent article posted at eAdvocate warns of the dangers that teens may fall into if they either send or receive sexually explicit images through their phone. For example, some states are making sexting between teens a misdemeanor; however, many state laws consider the possession or transmission of sexual images of teens, between teens punishable under child pornography laws—even if the one sending the material is a teen.

As a result, under current laws, if your teen takes a nude or semi-nude picture of him or herself and sends it to anyone, they could be tried and convicted of felony distribution of child pornography. As well, if your teen receives nude or semi-nude pictures of other teens, he or she could be charged with felony possession of child pornography. Either offense could require your teen to register as a sex offender and abide by state sex offender regulations, including residency restriction laws.

Teen Sexting is Not Harmless

Although some think that sexting is harmless—akin to finding a skin magazine under your teen’s mattress—the effects of sexting are extremely far-reaching. Images sent by phone can immediately be forwarded on to hundreds or thousands of individuals. In fact, one quarter of the 2,100 children identified as victims of online pornography sent the original image themselves (according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). That original image was then taken, forwarded, uploaded, and posted for hosts of other people to see.

What Sexting Means for Parents

Communication is the first line of defense. Talk to your teens about the potential dangers of sexting, warn them about the far-reaching effects one sexually-explicit image of themselves or one of their peers can have, including prosecution, humiliation, and registering as a sex offender.

Second, their phones are your phones. Check their text messages and images on a regular basis. They may see it as an invasion of privacy, but your phone policing can keep them honest and out of trouble. Or course, your actions should all be based on what will work best for you are your teen.

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September 1, 2009 at 6:00 am 3 comments

Social Media Club Gets Tips From Police

The Sacramento Social Media Club partnered with local police this past Tuesday, to discuss and share information on social media security and safety issues. Because social media is shifting the way we communicate, law enforcement has to figure out ways to help people stay safe online and use social media to catch criminals.

The meeting covered strategies for keeping your personal information safe online. For example, one presenter showed club members how to make photos private for select users. Another presentation focused on the “#1 Friend” program. The program advocates children adding their local police department as the #1 friend on MySpace. That way, any online predator viewing a child’s MySpace account will know that the child has a relationship with law enforcement and will report any suspicious activity. Hopefully, deterring any potential problems.

This is a great example of what police departments and community groups should be doing to help keep their citizens safe online. These types of community outreach programs educate older social media users and they provide parents with information and strategies for keeping their children safe online.

Keep your community safe by participating in and advocating for this type of community outreach in your neighborhood.


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August 21, 2009 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

Summer Increases Juvenile Crime

According to a story from Lubbock, Texas, a recent vandalism spree is being blamed on a handful of teenagers in the area who are out of school for the summer. This example is only one in a yearly trend of increased crime during the summer months, partially attributed to teen offenders.

Although the warmer weather and the number of people on vacation makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes, at least some of the annual summer increase in crime is due to bored teens who are out of school and don’t have the pressures of homework, sports, or other school related activities weighing on them. With these weights gone, and nothing to replace them with, some teens turn to criminal activity to fill their time.

It is probably a stretch to say that just because a teen is bored he or she will turn to violent crime, but teens with a lot of time on their hands might turn to less-violent activities like vandalism and theft, looking for a quick thrill or a quick buck.

Summer break is coming to a close in many parts of the country, and kids are heading back to school, but it always pays to be vigilant. Not only can you be careful about parking your car in the garage and keeping your porch light on, but—as parents of teenagers—you can help prevent crime by steering your child away from criminal activity through communication, activities, and vigilant parenting.


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August 17, 2009 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

Teens Who Look At Pornography More Likely to Participate in Risky Sexual Behavior

A recent study by Debra K. Braun-Courville, M.D., and Mary Rojas, Ph.D, found that 96% of teens have internet access, and 55% of those surveyed admitted to looking at pornography online. Perhaps this isn’t a big surprise, considering that many teens are curious about sex and the fact that pornography is increasingly accessible. However, there are dangers associated with viewing pornography, the study found. For instance, teens who looked at online pornography were far more likely to have multiple sexual partners in the previous 3 months, were more likely to have used alcohol during those encounters, and were more likely to have participated in other risky sexual behavior.

The solution: Talk to your teens about the dangers of internet pornography.


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July 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

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