Friday, October 23, 2009

Sexting at Degrassi

This past Friday, an episode of Degrassi The next Generation aired an episode entitled “Shoot to Thrill”. This episode involved a girl named Ali and her boyfriend Johnny. Ali took some pictures of Johnny and a stuffed animal promising never to share them with anyone. As the episode went on, we saw how poorly Johnny treated Ali in their relationship. Instead of breaking up with him, she took it up a notch and decided to take nude pictures of herself and send them to Johnny on his cell phone. Needless to say, this went badly. Ali had posted one of the pictures of Johnny and the stuffed animal on the school wall which resulted in Johnny sending one of the sexting pictures to his friend Bruce. Mr. Simpson, one of the teachers had the displeasure of seeing the picture and sent Bruce and Ali to the office. The principal had a stern talk with Ali about the dangers of sexting and an organization called That’s Not Cool gave a PSA on the dangers of sexting and is a great resource for anyone dealing with abuse through technology.

Sexting has recently become an issue amongst teens and even adults. Teens have been known to take these sexual photos and send to one another. What is troubling is that these texts find their way online by cyber bullies or other abusers in relationships. This occurs when there is a break-up or just as form of blackmail. The thing that is not considered is that once these photos are sent around, they are out there in cyber land for everyone to see. The chances of them disappearing are slim to none. Situations such as this can follow the teen into adulthood and cost them jobs and other problems along the line.

Folks, talk to your children about sexting and the dangers of it. This is also a form of cyber bullying as the photos get passed around to others and are done so in a cruel manner and as a way to hurt the target. This could also result in a criminal record as the ones doing the sending are passing around what appears to be child pornography. Anyone under age taking these photos and sharing them are only adding to the pornography problem, not helping it. Teens do not see these consequences like adults do so its important for them to know this before they attempt it. At the end of the day, we want our children safe. Sexting is the last way to do it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Brother is in the Building

Wow! Another week and another Google Alert. This time, its about having cameras in the classrooms in the United Kingdom. Wonder if this trend will hit up the United States?

A group in the UK called Class watch sets up cameras in classrooms and uses this as a basis for professional development. So far, they have been set up in over 100 schools and used for in class surveillance. They state that this is not an action of Big Brother existing but of trying to help teachers improve their performance in the classroom. Also, it can catch any abuse of peers as well. However, Civil Liberties advocates tend to disagree with this approach and see it as an invasion of the learning environment. Some at the UK Teachers Union feel these clips can be edited to make the teacher out to be the bad guy. Some at the PTA National Headquarters here in the US feel that if a demand comes in, this could be occurring in US schools at some point.

One thing I have to say is I do not agree with an invasion of privacy. As Americans, we do have our right to privacy. However, since the birth of the Internet, haven’t we lost a good bit of this privilege anyway? At the same time, having cameras in various locations has helped to catch criminals. Cameras do exist on some school buses now and in hallways. So, having them installed really should not be a big issue. One thing it would catch is any abuse that peers are giving to each other. A lot of this happens in the classroom and right under a teachers nose yet it goes undetected. This form of abuse is hard to prove because 99% of it is done away from authority. It sure would help in catching a lot of what is occurring and what parents and students bring to the attention of school personnel. The biggest problem I see is when school personnel will take these and edit them or conveniently loose them. I know that has happened in the past.
As for Big Brother, he has been hanging around for a long time. He has not entered our homes as of yet but he sure is out there in public places. I doubt he is planning to leave the building anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Arnie breaks the Bullies

Well, another week and more news on the Peer Abuse front. This week, its great news and involves someone finally taking a group of bullies by the horns.

In California, there is a serious problem with the paparazzi who try and do what they can to get photos of celebrities without their consent. When I say anything I mean anything! As a result, they become a danger not only to these celebrities but the public in general. All sorts of laws are broken when they are out and about stalking their prey. Recently, Nicole Richie and Madonna were both in accidents as a result of the paparazzi. The late Farrah Fawcett could not even go to the hospital for chemo treatments without them stalking and harassing her. The paparazzi have become nothing more than a danger to themselves and those around them and its high time they were reigned in.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an anti-paparazzi bill into law yesterday which now states that celebrities can take legal action towards paparazzi and media outlets when photos are used illegally. This was amended to a law that gave fines when these items were used improperly. The Paparazzi Reform Initiative sponsored this bill. This law will not be used to completely shut down media outlets and other means of reporting. It was formed to try and reign in the behavior the paparazzi uses in obtaining information on celebrities. To try and prevent not only celebrities from being hurt but the public as a whole. Ethically, many boundaries and rights promised to all citizens of this nation have been violated and its high time to bring these back into practice. Respect our fellow man and what is promised to all of us as citizens and as human beings.

Thank you Governor Schwarzenegger for signing this into law. As I have mentioned in the past, this is a form of Peer Abuse and these paparazzi have done nothing but bully these celebrities. They violated laws and endangered others. Now, driving down Wilshire Blvd. or anywhere else in Los Angeles will be safer for everyone. People can relax and I know these celebrities feel better knowing further legal action can be taken. At the end of the day, aren’t we all entitled to live our lives without the fear of being harassed, stalked or invaded on daily basis?