Thursday, May 1, 2008

Textual harassment in schools

The New York times reported today that over 35 percent of kids aged 11 to 18 have been sexually harassed. Boys and girls report similar levels but girls and sexual minorities suffer harsher consequences of this harassment. And it's not new to hear that besides verbal and physical abuse, young people are being sexually harassed on websites and by text message.

How have social networking sites and text messaging allowed bullies to get away with more? The schools are legally bound to protect their students from sexual harassment, but is the virtual nature of harassment sliding under the radar?

Regardless, how can young people protect themselves? Unlike a pinch in the hallway, news of a nasty Myspace comment can spread really fast. A devastating text message can come in during a class leaving us alone with our phones.

Some sites allow us to block or erase comments. We can take people off of our gchat list, we can defriend the person or erase their phone number from our vast collection. And we can tell someone and ask for support.

For more about the recent rise in cyber-bullying the New York Times also published this solid article. See also, this special edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Or the CDC's set of youth violence prevention resources.

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