When I was a kid, the worst kind of technology-based bullying a tween could inflict on a peer was using blind three-way call to sabotage her friend's reputation. These days, it's a whole new ballgame involving Facebook and other forms of social media. And it's gotten so out of hand that it seems the court of law needs to be involved. In fact, a 12-year-old girl from Washington state was sentenced this week to probation and community service for cyberstalking a peer. She and an 11-year-old accomplice doctored the other girl's Facebook account with explicit photos and solicitations for sex.
But the mother of the victim isn't satisfied with the sentencing of the girls who "hacked" her daughter's Facebook page. They'll be allowed to go online under parental supervision, and apparently, that's not a strict enough punishment for the mother of the victim.
Maybe parental supervision is precisely what could have saved these tweens and their parents from ending up in court in the first place!
I've heard from parents of tweens that it's pretty much impossible to keep your kiddo off of social media. If they want on, they're going to get on -- even if they're under 13 (the minimum age to sign up for Facebook). But that doesn't mean you have to give up on trying to make them adhere to a rule or monitoring/supervising their online activity. It seems the parents of the cyberstalkers could have done more to prevent this from occurring in the first place.
Furthermore, I don't see why the parents couldn't have just settled this amongst themselves -- unless they, despite being the adults here, were hell-bent on acting like adolescents. And I'm not saying the girls who inflicted the cyberbullying shouldn't have been formally punished. But was a judge really the only person or third-party who could have mediated this situation?
The bottom-line, in the words of Web Wise Kids CEO Judi Westberg Warren:
Parents need to be partners with their kids online. It's really, really critical in this day and age. The damage can be so wide spread.
In other words, there's really no excuse these days for parents to simply shrug and saying, "Oh well, what could I have done?" They're the gatekeepers and the rulemakers for their kids' Internet use or abuse. And there are obviously various steps the parents on either side of this case could have taken to prevent their kids from landing in court.
What do you think about this 12-year-old's sentencing?
Image via Brian Turner/Flickr