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Clamping down on cyberbullies

Johnston County Sheriff's office

Two teenagers from South Johnston High School (NC) were arrested on Jan. 31 and charged with misdemeanor cyberbullying. According to reports, this is the first time teens in the Triangle area have been charged under the new state law that went into effect in December 2009.

Joshua Aarron Temple, 18, and Justin Ray Jackson, 17, allegedly created a Facebook page that was used to post threatening comments about their 15-year-old victim. Arrest warrants indicated that Jackson posted comments stating that he would run over the victim with his pickup truck. Temple posted “that he was bringing a gun, to school to hunt (the victim).”

Parents need to be aware of the laws in their state and to continually monitor their child’s online activity. Sameer Hinduja, Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University, and Justin W. Patchin, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin?Eau Claire, update state laws on a regular basis and provide the latest information  on causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents.  Hinduja and Patchin say, cyberbullying can be defined as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.”

In Hinduja and Patchin’s book “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying”, they suggest parents have their child sign an internet contract. The web site offers the contract and other tools as free download resources.

Stacey DeWitt, founder and CEO of Connect with Kids, says “schools need to have clear consequences in place for bullying at school and online -- and parents can help by reminding their kids that bullying is not the victim's fault.” Watch the video at this link to learn more from DeWitt including ways to change today’s culture of cruelty.

Add in thoughts in the comment section below about how your child's school and community are handling cyberbullies.

Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."