Describing himself in the days of being a judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court, our guest today on LATALKRadio.com- "Parent Choices for Struggling Teens", Thomas Jacobs stated that he looked like the 'typical' authority figure…in his black robes and his white hair. Holding jurisdiction in a county of over 4 million people, Thomas was appointed to the juvenile division, a subject he was quite interested in. This interest led to his own research on cyberbullying…a trend that has been going on for years. Especially the 'high profile' cases of suicides that occur due to this crime. Joining Hosts Lon Woodbury and Elizabeth McGhee, Thomas is concerned with the next trend of technological bullying, because "kids test the limits: with sexting and blackmail on the internet, cyberbullying is becoming more vicious and certainly not limited to those under 18 years old." He explained that teens and kids are quite smart and they educate each other on the newest trends online and then it spreads. This is helped by there being so many new apps available to use that neither parents nor any other adult can keep up with the number of platforms kids can use anytime.
"Kids have been bullying for many, many years," Thomas explained, "They just have a new way to do it. They send out hateful, spiteful messages to others and then think they can erase the history, but you can't erase it. The digital footprint does exist. In addition, based on psychologists, often times the 'victim' of cyberbullying will go home and will become the bully online to someone else.
"Part of the reason its becoming more common is there is a false sense of safety by doing the bullying from home.
For teens, their social media devices: cell phones, IPhone, IPad and computers are a life line, and yet, because of this, cyberbullying can target anyone- 24 hours a day- 7 days a week. But, there is a hesitancy and fear of telling their parents if they are a victim of bullying. This is because as a parent, the normal response is "shut it down" and remove all the devices to keep child safe. This is exactly what the kid's fear. But for their own safety, these victims have to tell someone. "Cyberbullying has become a global issue and I believe it is more a health issue, rather than a court issue. The answer is not pushing for another law, but rather an awareness of consequences from these cyberbullying actions by the parents and the kids. It is never too early to be talking about technology safety and consequences, which might include legal consequences. It is so important for kids to understand consequences and they need to learn 'thinking ahead' for consequences - to themselves, their parents and others." He then talked about how important it is for parents to know what their kids are doing online. Most parents won't be able to keep up with their kids with technology, but they can build trust. It is too easy for parents to ignore it, to be in denial. They don't want to hear what their kids are doing behind their backs. But the parents need to know that these kids are smart. Smart enough that they can have secret accounts their parents don't know about. And for those parents whose child is the bully, not knowing what their kid is doing online can allow the bullying to continue.
"Most of the parents do get involved and take responsibility when they find out that their kids is bullying" Thomas shared. But, he explained, if you start early in monitoring your child's activities online, and the kids know they are being monitored, and they know there is follow-up by the parents, "It is not a bad thing,not a bad thing at all."
For kids out there who are being bullied, Thomas has some suggestions, they need to tell someone. "Do not keep it to yourself- tell someone you trust, someone that can help." In his opinion, kids often think they are the only ones at school getting bullied online because it is hidden; it is in the dark, so no one knows. The reality is with proper handling, things can be nipped in the bud."
Lon Woodbury is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports, Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens and The Woodbury Reports.
Elizabeth McGhee is the Director of Admissions and Referral Relations at Sandhill Child Development Center and has over 19 years' of clinical, consulting and referral relations experience to her position and is the co-host.
Thomas Jacobs, former Maricopa County Superior Court judge and the author of "Teen Cyberbullying Investigated: Where do Your Rights End and Consequences Begin", in addition to "What Are My Rights?" Thomas is also hosts a website:www.askthejudge.info where he answers reader's questions on youth justice issues.
If you know somebody (including yourself) who would make a good guest on our show and might be interested contact Lon at, firstname.lastname@example.org or call, 208-267-5550.
We are excited to announce that we have several openings for on-air sponsorship during The Woodbury Report shows on K4HD.com Tuesdays, and on our other radio show on Mondays, LATalkRadio.com Parent Choices for Struggling Teens. If you are interested in reserving some air time to promote your school, program or services, contact Kristie Campbell at email@example.com or 208-267-5550 or Lon at 208-267-7717.