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Sunday, February 26, 2012


A Platform for Good

A Platform for Good

A Platform for Good Encourages Kids to Connect, Share and Do Good

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Sprint, Verizon and Yahoo! Unite in Support of FOSI's Unique Approach to Digital Citizenship

WASHINGTON, DC - The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to online safety, today announced an initiative to create an interactive online program called A Platform for Good, empowering parents, teachers, teens and kids to connect and share knowledge and experiences around online safety while learning to become responsible digital citizens.

A Platform for Good has gained support and endorsement by leaders throughout five different industries, including social media, search, telecommunications, mobile, and cable. The initiative will present a brand new approach to digital citizenship built on ideas, research, and resources. By leveraging existing social media platforms that young people and their parents already use, A Platform for Good will have widespread appeal for a number of age groups.

The platform will provide the following:
  • Kids and teens will access incentive-based, interactive activities that teach them about online safety issues in a fun, engaging way. A Platform for Good will foster participation and collaboration with youth.

  • Parents will receive conversation starters and tips via text and social networking sites to encourage families to discuss current events, turning recent news into learning experiences.

  • Teachers will find new instructional opportunities, including interesting videos and web-based activities to inspire their students.
"All too often, online safety discussions focus on the dangers of technology," said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. "It's time to transform the discussion and create resources to inform, inspire and empower kids to make the right choices online. That is why FOSI is so proud to announce A Platform for Good, which is unique in its positive and holistic approach to digital citizenship education."

"A Platform for Good is an incredible opportunity to provide people with a positive message about online safety education," said Kim Sanchez, chair of FOSI's board of directors and a director of privacy and online safety at Microsoft. "I am pleased that so many industry leaders are stepping up to make this initiative possible; it demonstrates the power that collaboration and innovation can bring to help families enjoy safer online experiences."

The support and participation of industry sponsors will allow A Platform for Good to reach kids, parents and teachers in a new way, while addressing the need for a comprehensive approach to digital citizenship. The Platform will launch in September of 2012. To sign up for updates, please visit

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Landmark case? University Vs Former student, cadaver 'Bernie' | ZDNet

Landmark case? University Vs Former student, cadaver 'Bernie' | ZDNet

Landmark case? University Vs Former student, cadaver 'Bernie'
By Charlie Osborne | February 14, 2012, 3:09am PST

Summary: A student has taken her former university to the Supreme Court over free speech rights.

A former University of Minnesota science student’s appeal to the Supreme Court has resulted in the university defending their decision to discipline the student over Facebook status messages.

The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments last week concerning how much freedom of speech a student is entitled to on social networks — and therefore whether the academic institution was justifiable in its actions of disciplining the student Amanda Tatro after she posted about her lab cadaver on Facebook.

Statements were written on her Facebook profile in 2009. Among the remarks were:

“Who knew embalming lab was so cathartic! I still want to stab a certain someone in the throat with a trocar though.”

A trocar is an instrument used to drain body cavities before it goes under the embalming process, and ‘a certain someone’, in the frequent practice of indirect and emotional Facebook statuses, was apparently a former boyfriend who had broken up with her the night before.

Among other messages, Tatro referenced her cadaver as ‘Bernie’, that she took out ‘aggression’ on the corpse, and she was ‘updating her Death List #5′ whilst hiding the instrument ‘under her sleeve’ during lab sessions. She expressed sadness at ‘losing her best friend Bernie’ and also implied she had stashed away a lock of his hair.

Once the university viewed the messages through another mortuary student’s reports, they disciplined her. Tatro’s grade dropped from a C+ to an F, she was made to enroll in an ethics course, write an apologetic letter and also has to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Tatro was also placed on academic probation in the last year of study as an undergraduate.

The former student took the matter to the Court of Appeals, and after losing the case, asked the state Supreme Court to review it. The university wishes to defend its decision to discipline her; Tatro views the matter as a violation of her rights to free speech.

Tatro’s attorney, Jordan Kushner, stated that the student was off campus when the remarks were made, the cadaver was not identified by its true name, and no procedures were described in detail — something that student rules forbid. Therefore, “It would not be constitutionally reasonable for the university to restrict that speech,” according to Kushner.

It may have begun with a simple Facebook status update, but social networks are finding themselves more frequently being discussed in courts across the West. This is the first Facebook and First Amendment case that the Minnesota Supreme Court has reviewed, and has the potential to become a landmark case that could alter the current, blurred rules concerning social media and free speech rights.

This goes beyond academic prerogatives and Facebook — instead, this ruling could set a standard for how universities are able to punish students for activities off-campus. Due to this, both civil liberties and higher education groups have joined the battle, adding momentum to the fight. Filing support for each side, each viewpoint believes the case will have damaging side effects if the other wins.

To the former student and supportive civil liberty organisations, the case may define free student speech of campus — although in any terms, attempting to regulate every form of speech while a student is contractually bound to a university would be extremely difficult. Currently, no higher education groups have stated their support for the student.

The university and their backing higher education groups are more concerned over safety and professional standards, no matter where a code of conduct has been violated. If the academic institution lose the battle, it could mean that students cannot have their grades lowered or be punished for what is considered to be breaking codes of conduct if they are not on campus grounds.

The case will be decided within the next few months.

Jamie Isaacs honored for cyberbully efforts

Jamie Isaacs honored for cyberbully efforts

Jamie Isaacs of Lake Grove, left, and Paige

Photo credit: Christina Primero | Jamie Isaacs of Lake Grove, left, and Paige Pless of Albany, stand with Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) after the Senator introduced resolutions commending the two teens for their fight against harassment and cyberbullying. (Feb. 13, 2012)

ALBANY -- Jamie Isaacs, a Long Island teen who spoke out against the cyberbullying she suffered for years, was honored as a role model on the floor of the state Senate Monday.

Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) introduced resolutions commending Isaacs and Albany teenager Paige Pless for fighting against harassment that is no longer confined to the schoolyard but takes place in the virtual world.

The two are "an inspiration for teenagers across the state and testaments of natural strength and true character," Klein said on the Senate floor. The resolutions come to the Senate floor Wednesday.

VIDEO: LI GLBT Services Network aims to help

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Click here to see more on bullying

SHARE: Victim of bullying? Click here to tell your story to Newsday

Isaacs, 15, from Lake Grove, turned six years of taunting into a push for tougher laws and a foundation that runs a hotline to take phone calls from kids who are being bullied. She said she's helped eight kids who were suicidal. She's also written a book about her experience.

"I didn't want what happened to me to ever happen to anyone else," Isaacs said.

She said the problems started in the second grade with another girl with whom she didn't get along. Over the years it escalated and the girl enlisted more people into an "I hate Jamie" club, who would send taunting emails and death threats. She eventually transferred out of the Sachem school district's public schools to a private school and said the problems stopped. However, her younger brother also suffered bullying at school and is now being home-schooled.

Though some calls to the foundation's hotline are referred to social workers or lawyers, she talks directly to some of the kids who call the hotline and shares her experience with them.

"That helps them, knowing that there's someone else out there like them that's experiencing the same thing," she said.

Last month, Klein introduced a cyberbullying bill that would add "electronic communication" toward minors in stalking and aggravated harassment crimes.

"What we're seeing now in the digital age is hundreds, hordes of invisible bullies that are hiding behind social media and harassing one another," Klein said. "The old adage that sticks and stones may break your bones but words cannot harm you, I think we're seeing, unfortunately, that words can kill."

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Stephen Balkam: Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop, Misses an Opportunity

Stephen Balkam: Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop, Misses an Opportunity

... "But here's the thing: Mr. Jordan actually acted on his impulse and turned a teachable moment -- one that should have been behind closed doors and face-to-face with his daughter -- into a premeditated exhibition of force, petulance and destruction of property.

What exactly did he teach Hannah? That he can "kill" her computer in cold blood, record his actions and then post them on her wall (not his) and therefore get some kind of parental revenge."

Read the whole story:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Students Standing Up to Bullying and Hate | Edutopia

Students Standing Up to Bullying and Hate | Edutopia: It takes courage to stand up to a bully or challenge hate speech. On K-12 and college campuses across the country, students and educators are coming together as "upstanders" to change their communities for the better. Their stories of everyday heroism are highlighted in a compelling new documentary and accompanying educational campaign called Not In Our Town: Class Actions.

Teen Dating Violence

Teen Dating Violence

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are depressed kids bully magnets? -

Are depressed kids bully magnets? - A new study, published this week in the journal "Child Development," provides some of the strongest evidence to date for a third theory: Kids who cry easily, express negative emotions, and show other signs of depression ultimately suffer socially because they are shunned by their peers and attract the attention of bullies.
"Bullies target youth who are unlikely to fight back," says lead author Karen P. Kochel, Ph.D., an assistant research professor at Arizona State University, in Phoenix. "Youth who are depressed really have the potential to appear vulnerable, and are easy marks for victimization, unfortunately."

Power to Learn - Parenting with Technology

Power to Learn - Parenting with Technology

How Loud Is Too Loud?
Diane S. Kendall, 12/08/11
With teen hearing loss increasing as access to personal technology devices like music players and tablets is reaching down to an earlier and earlier age, here are some ideas about what you as a parent can do to help prevent hearing problems.

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