Police and Teen Volunteers Helping to Make Social Networking Safer By Going after the Bullies

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Article-1360908-0D5F743C000005DC-409_468x310 Police in the UK are rolling out a noteworthy program wherein they’ll be working with teen volunteers to catch reports of cyberbullying on some of the world’s largest social networks.

The whole point behind the program is to “nip the problem in the bud and prevent it [cyberbullying] from becoming something more serious” says Dave Thomas, the mastermind behind the plan. If police or a teen volunteer finds proof of cyberbullying, the culprit will be sent a message warning them that they are breaking the law and that they could be prosecuted for their actions. In addition, their parents will also be notified about the bullying.

I think Dave Thomas’ unique approach to this issue should be applauded granted the severity of the situation. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re probably aware of how serious cyberbullying has become. Which is exactly why this program holds so much weight—it’s important to step in and stop the problem before it gets out of control. At the same time, this program will help parents become more aware of the issue at hand and get involved in their child’s online life before it’s left in the hands of law enforcement.

I would love to see something like this expanded to the states. Though it may not be necessary to involve police, it’d be great to see a program that gets teens involved in preaching cyberbullying awareness, and then using that awareness to get others involved in catching cyberbullying before it gets serious. A similar program would be like what we saw with The National School Climate Change movement, Bully Bust. This is a great example of today’s youth standing up to current issues and advocating for a change among their own generation.

We take that mentality and apply it to the community inside Yoursphere. Our youth ambassador program is designed to let members teach each other, through positive interaction, about being kind and Internet-safety smart when they’re online. Additionally, we proactively teach our members how they themselves can make a difference by reinforcing positive interaction with messages such as: “You own what you post”, “Be kind online”, and “Treat others with the respect you want for yourself”. This has been a huge success for us, and more importantly our members, as they’ve been recognized as role models in the Yoursphere community and have stepped in when they thought someone wasn’t interacting with another member in a positive way.

Again, I applaud Dave Thomas, the UK police, and all of the teen volunteers for taking the initiative to make a positive change.

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  • Yes this action deserves much appreciation because this situation should not be allowed to get out of hand. Cyberbullying is something that should be given attention and should be stopped. They should be given a warning and if they continue doing it, their account will be ban from the network.

  • The key point, as you correctly noted and the report makes clear, is that the initiative is taken quickly to stop the inappropriate behavior early once it is detected: “If police or a teen volunteer finds proof of cyberbullying, the culprit will be sent a message warning them that they are breaking the law and that they could be prosecuted for their actions. In addition, THEIR PARENTS WILL ALSO BE NOTIFIED (emphasis added)…”
    This last element is the clincher because it closes the loop and makes the action effective, not just rhetorical: the security initiative is possible because – and only because, a verified parent is firmly in the picture, something US providers are slowly understanding is essential for child security online.
    When the provider takes some measure of responsibility, not just the profits, instead of laying off the entire burden onto the overwhelmed parent, meaningful action to protect our children is possible.

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