Saturday, June 30, 2012

GA - Summary Judgment in Favor of School District in Bullying Case

GA - Summary Judgment in Favor of School District in Bullying Case 
On May 21, 2012, the Northern District of Georgia in Long v. Murray County School District, Case No. 4:10-CV-00015-HLM, entered summary judgment in favor of the Murray County School District ("Murray") in a multi-count lawsuit brought by the parents of a deceased student named Tyler. Tyler was a high school male with Asperger's Syndrome who committed suicide on October 17, 2009, after suffering from constant bullying in school. In the lawsuit, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants' "failure to intervene, investigate, correct, or train their employees to adequately protect Tyler from bullying was the sole or a substantial contributing cause of Tyler's decision to take his own life."  Murray maintained that it properly addressed the incidents of bullying. In the lawsuit, Plaintiffs brought claims under Section 1983 (Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process), the ADA, Section 504, and state law (public nuisance).  Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages and attorney's fees.  Ultimately, Defendants prevailed on all claims.  With respect to Plaintiffs' deliberate indifference argument, the Court reasoned, "[a]lthough Plaintiffs establish that Defendants should have done more to address disability harassment, Plaintiffs fail to meet the high bar of deliberate indifference and demonstrate that Defendants' response was clearly unreasonable." http://www.abajournal.com/files/TylerLong.pdf

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Google Talk Tip

Google Talk: What does it mean to go off the record? We know that sometimes, we don't want a particular chat, or chats with a specific person, to be saved. Most existing IM services give no indication of whether the person you're chatting with is saving your conversation. But when chatting in Google Talk or Gmail, you can go "off the record," so that nothing typed from that point forward gets automatically saved in anyone's Gmail account. Going off the record applies to individual people, and is persistent across chats. That means once you go off the record with a particular person, you will always be off the record with him or her, even if you close the chat window, and the two of you don't chat again until several months later. You will not need to go off the record each time you chat with the same person, but you will need to make this decision for each person you chat with. We've designed this to be a socially-negotiated setting because we want to give users full disclosure and control over whether the person they're talking to can save their chat. To go off the record while chatting, click the Options button and select "Go off the record" from the dropdown menu. Both people can go off the record or stop chatting off the record at any time, and we will always notify both people of such a change.



Does going off the record ensure that my chats won't be saved anywhere?
Unfortunately not. People can choose to access Google Talk using a variety of third party clients and some clients save chats locally to the users' computers. We can only guarantee that when you go off the record, the chat history is not being automatically saved or made searchable in either person's Gmail account. We can't guarantee what the other person is doing, since, as is the case for all chats, the other person could always be cutting and pasting, and saving the contents of the chat elsewhere.

Read more:

Monday, June 18, 2012

New York lawmakers to pass state's first cyberbullying law


ALBANY — State lawmakers are expected to pass New York’s first law addressing the growing problem of cyberbullying.
After weeks of intense negotiations, Gov. Cuomo submitted late Friday night an anti-cyberbullying bill that lawmakers are scheduled to take up before ending the legislative session on Thursday.
The bill requires schools to develop proper protocol to deal with complaints of email, texting or online harassment and designate an official to handle investigations.
Districts will also have to develop preemptive measures to prevent recurrences and create age-appropriate curriculum for students from kindergarten to 12th grade on “safe, responsible use of Internet and electronic communications” as well as “civility, citizenship and character education.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/york-lawmakers-pass-state-cyberbullying-law-article-1.1096946#ixzz1yA6rbQNJ

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Skout’s ‘Flirt, Friend, Chat’ May Be Fine For Adults, But Not For Kids




by Larry Magid

This article appeared in the San Jose Mercury News

When you go to download Skout on an iPhone, the tagline is “flirt, friend, chat,” and you’re invited to “join the fastest growing FREE social scene with millions of guys and girls waiting to meet you!” Skout’s iPhone icon is a heart. And, thanks to the phone’s location awareness, you can even find people who are nearby.
There is nothing wrong with services like this as long as they’re used with appropriate safeguards, and Skout does offer safety tips for meeting people offline. But there have been three reported cases of teenage users being raped by adults — posing online as teenagers — who found them on Skout.
After the reports surfaced, the service quickly suspended its teen services and, for the time being at least, it’s only open to people over 18. In a blog post, Skout CEO Christian Wiklund wrote “Under our zero-tolerance policy, we immediately ban users for inappropriate or suspicious behavior. Also, unlike many location-based apps, Skout provides general rather than specific location information, empowering each community member to decide if, when and where to meet in person.”
But he added, ‘it’s become clear to us that these measures aren’t enough. In recent weeks, we’ve learned of several incidents involving a few bad actors trying to take advantage of some of our younger members.”
Skout was initially set up for adults only but added teens about a year ago. Wiklund wrote that “we thought long and hard about how to set up a safe network for teens,” which included efforts to separate teens from adults on the service.
That strategy hasn’t been entirely effective. Some adults have apparently lied about their age to hang out with kids and it wouldn’t surprise me if some kids lie about their age.
I don’t know a great deal about Skout, but as founder of SafeKids.com and co-director of ConnectSafely.org, I do know a few things about Internet safety. And one of them, as noted by Crimes Against Children Research Center (CRCC), is that “talking about sex online with strangers is a big risk factor for encountering problems,” as is “interacting indiscriminately with a lot of unknown people online.”
Research has also shown that adults sexually abusing children they first met online is relatively rare and that, in most cases, adults don’t lie about their age or, if they do, it’s by a few years. Although it happens, it’s rare for a 40 year-old to claim to be a 16 or 17 year old. We have also learned, from several studies, that aggressive behavior can lead to risk. When there are issues, they often arise when young people are going out of their way to engage in online sexual banter with strangers.
According to CRCC Director David Finkelhor, “even if an adult does show up at a teen site to troll for kids, the adults typically clarify their age at some point in the conversation.” Finkelhor stressed that “An important component of safety messages should be to help teens understand why it’s a bad idea to have a romantic relationship with an adult.”
It’s important to remember that Skout is designed for flirting, which is often accompanied by sexual banter. So, without knowing a lot of details of the reported cases, I can nevertheless see why there could have been problems associated with this service.
It’s not clear to me how Skout’s location-aware features may have contributed to the alleged crimes. On its website, Skout says that it “provides general rather than specific location information” which should minimize the risk of a stranger actually tracking you down. Still, as a general principal, when you combine location awareness with sexual conversation, the risk does increase.
Skout was smart to suspend services for teens, but there remains the possibility that some teens will lie about their age to join this and similar services. Finkelhor questions whether Skout should resume its offering for teens.
“If we’re going to have teen dating sites, they should be designed and managed by people who do only that and (should) be connected to functions other than just hooking up,” he said.
But it’s not entirely clear that trying to separate teens from adults is a good strategy. Kids are more often harassed by other young people and, with the exception of flirting services, there could be legitimate reasons for kids and adults to interact online around topics of common interest.
While caution is always wise, it’s important that parents not freak out, overreact or generalize what happened on Skout to other social networking services like Facebook or Twitter. According to Pew Research, about 74 percent of American teens are on Facebook, yet the number of reports of Facebook-related sexual abuse of teens and children are extremely low. But, once again, it’s time for parents to sit down with their kids and have “that talk,” not about the “birds and the bees,” but about the “bits and the bytes,” helping them understand how to safely use the Internet and mobile phones.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How To Help Your Tween Use Facebook, Safely : NPR


Facebook has historically restricted access for kids under 12 years old, but that may be changing. Many kids already use the network, with or without their parents' consent, and many parents have raised concerned about privacy, safety and advertising.

Read more: How To Help Your Tween Use Facebook, Safely : NPR

Monday, June 11, 2012

Senator Harkin’s hearing on bully-free schools

Russlyn Ali, Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, provided the opening testimony at Senator Harkin’s hearing on bully-free schools on Friday. She spoke about what local, state, and federal leaders can do to help prevent bullying.

http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Ali.pdf

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Checklist: Safely Using Facebook


Here is my checklist for using Facebook (and other social networks) safely. Although I developed these with kids in mind, they are good guidelines for ALL of us. What do you think? Any you would add?


Safely Using Facebook and
Keeping a Positive Digital Reputation
Checklist





All your privacy settings should be set to "only my friends" or "no one". Remember, only people who are true friends in real life can be your friends in Facebook. And, don't put too much importance on whether someone agrees to be your Facebook friend or not.

Only join networks and groups that are real organizations or groups in real life.

Friends who use Facebook in a dangerour or hurtful way may not be your online friends. You have to unfriend them.

Keep your time on Facebook in balance with other things that are important - like homework, chores, getting together in person with friends).

ONLY positive information gets posted anywhere at anytime. No exceptions.

Leave "interested in" and "looking for" unchecked (they will not show in your profile). Facebook is for interacting with your friends, not meeting strangers and building new relationships.

Under Contact: Enter only email and screen name. Any of your friends can get any other information from you directly if they need it. Don't risk making it public by accident.

Under Personal: These are empty boxes that can be filled with anything, so be careful that you don't accidentally put something here that you shouldn't make public. Remember that anything you say here can and might be used against you. Don't think you can just delete it later and no one will ever know, either. On the Internet, information has a way of getting passed around and becoming permanent.

Under Marketplace - this is probably not the best way for you to buy and sell stuff either. Selling stuff and maintaining privacy don't go together. Nobody should know about you on Facebook except your friends, and if you want to sell to them there are better ways.

No need to search for friends except for the purpose of finding your true friends to establish friend links with.

Write in proper English. What you post is a reflection of you and your family.

Dad or Mom should help you monitor your impact and digital reputation. Approve them as a “friend.”

Other resources: www.guardingkids.com

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