In these days of cell phones, our teens must be taught the importance of treating the instant information that is constantly at their fingertips responsibly. In too many cases today — the rape convictions that I blogged about last week, the follow up rape story that came out and this weeks most recent story about the arrest of teens who raped a young girl at a party — social media has played a part. Audrie Pott committed suicide the week after the rapes after seeing photos of her attack online– offenses are recorded by teens on their phones and which are then circulated around. (Heartbreaking plea from her parents for information from teens who have the photos is a the bottom of this page…)
Talk to your children about what to do if they witness assaults. So sad that this is becoming prevalent today, but with social media, assaults are being documented and shared. The victims in these cases are being victimized over and over again every time the images are sent. Teens today are faced with so much more responsibility when it comes to information sharing — they need to be taught how to handle it.
This is a ripe area for restorative justice and dialogue practices. Gossip when I was in High School in the 1980’s was bad, but it would take days for it to travel from school to school to school by telephone calls. Now it is just minutes. In the world of 24 hour news stations, we are very used to getting everything NOW and opinions are fact until disproven… and when a lie or photo is spread to thousands in days, it is impossible to reach each of those people to correct the wrong intel.
Schools are the most obvious place to start pro-active dialogue classes about information sharing. Further, if they see photos of a crime, what to do with that photo — understanding that each time they share a photo of an attack is re-victimizing the person over and over. Help them to understand that they are adding to the “crime scene”. Technology is great… but much like a car, children need to be taught early how to navigate it around curves.