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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  September 18, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT

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>> welcome to al jazeera. i'm tony harris, and these are top stories that we're following. the defense department promised a top to bottom review. dry weather helps crews in colorado recover from a week of torrential rain. the death toll has dropped from 8 to 6, but six hundred people are still unaccounted for. in a surprise move the federal reserve will continue to buy bonds to stimulate the economy. the fed says it needs to see more signs of lasting improvement in the economy especially after seeing disappointing data over the last few months. it's the end of a trading day
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and stocks on well street jumped nearly 150 points on the feds decision. russia says it will present evidence from the syrian government implicating rebels in the august 21st chemical weapons attack. they plan to release the evidence later in the week. russia rejects reports from u.n. investigators as one sided and politicized. if you would like the latest on any of the stories from this nutnews hour head over to www.aljazeera.com. once again that's www.aljazeera.com. i'm tony harris. "inside story" is next. >> florida authorities consider bringing charges after a 12-year-old girl who endured months of online bullied committed suicide.
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we'll how schools are dealing with cyber-bullying. >> hello, i'm libby casey. for nearly a year absolutely terrorized. she would receive messages that she should die. she jumped to her death. friends and families wore t-shirts with anti-bullying slogans and a sign that read every day more and more kids kill themselves because of bullying. how many lives have to be lost until people realize that words do matter. what was once a schoolyard problem in the last ten years spread into cyberspace and become more powerful.
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bullies tweet instagram or post on facebook abusive words hiding behind a screen and doing harm in just a click. there has been a steady but modest increase of cyberbullying in the last decade. 24% of high schoolers said they have been bullied. 85% of the time victims knows the bully. >> here with us for more insight is debra a bullying prevention manager for justice and human rights. from connecticut we're joined by emily, author of "sticks and stone." and back here in the studio, jennifer, the legal and policy director for the online safety institute. jennifer, define bullying for us. plain and simple.
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>> when we're looking at cyberbullying, we're looking at online behavior that is hostile, harassment, it's over a period of time. it's not just one comment that is mean but hostile behavior over a period of time pep we often see a power imbalance. someone who has a higher social status in school harassing someone who does not have as much popularity. >> there is a big problem with bullying in school. cyberbullying, we're seeing more as technology gets into kids hands. but we want to see it as one thing that needs to be addressed. >> is that your definition? >> it is my definition but one of the biggest problems out there right now is that we all disagree on a definition of bullying. we might say that bullying is aggressive behavior repeated over time. but if you ask two people on the street if certain behavior is bullying, they're going to disagree. >> it's a theoretical
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experience. >> what i experienced as bullying might be completely different from someone else. this is problematic when our solution for bullying relies on an objective definition of bullying. >> when the rubber hits the road bully something a very personal experience for someone. how does that change someone and what does it mean when we talk about it in definitions and terms. >> the definitions that are highlighted are important. what we know about the bullying as they're defining it is that it's tied to serious consequences for kids and also for kids after they grow up. so studies have spoken that kids who have been bullied, and who are bullies and victims because that's an important category we often lose sight of. kids in both of those groups are higher risks of anxiety disorder, depression and suicidal thinking 20 years after childhood. when you think of bullying in this limited way you're talking
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about a serious harm. >> how much do we know, jennifer, in terms of studies showing us long-term effects. we're looking at this strategic case o in florida. what about people who don't go to that extreme but still carry that with them. >> we want to make sure as we're addressing bullying we're looking at the mental health, especially for teens. making sure that parents and others can recognize signs of depression and getting resources to teens so they know where to turn to and if they carry it to adulthood there is treatment and options to help them deal with the effects of bullying. >> we talk about how bullying has grown and changed over the past ten years. can you make a comparison 10, 20, 30 years ago? >> i think adult versus an image of a bully as a thug who beat them up or stole their lunch money or someone else's. what we're seeing is the
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behavior that is subtler, and has more to do with taunting and eye rolling and sometimes moves online the way we've been discussing, which can be really hard for the kids whore targets. it can make bullying feel 24/7. i think the other thing that happens online ishat kids lose the face-to-face cues for empathy that can stop them from saying something that is really cruel. >> in the course of repting your book i'm sure you talked to kids who have been victims of bullying, and have been bullies themselves. were there some surprises? did you find some connections between thoseho were bullied and those doing the bullying? >> there are categories of kids who can end up onither side. they tend to be the kids with the biggest psychological problems. who are sometimes victimized and sometimes they're lashing out. really for them this behavior is a cry for help. but i don't want to create this impression that all bullies are like that because there are
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other kids who are being manipulative, and for them it's a sadly rational behavior, a way to enhance their social status. then the trick for adults to help is to change that dynamic and help kids change it for themselves. >> how do you do that? >> it's really hard because when the social norm of a certain school is that bullies gain that social status or gain popularity and there is good data that shows kids who are bullying are considered cool and popular in their schools. when that happens it's hard to change that norm. you have to switch it and make it uncool. the way to do that is to take an active stance and active look at what the actual norms in the school are, and have the school really address their own context. one of the issues is there is no one size fits all solution, and every school needs to address their own concerns and not grab a program off the shelf. >> you talk about this as a human. >> right it is a human right.
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just like any other human rights violation bullying can severely effect someone's life. we don't want that to happen. you know, this is the first human rights violation that many youth will ever experience. it's right here at homoposed to in uganda or russia. this is right here at home. and so we have to make sure that kids are equipped with the tools to not only stand up for themselves but become defenders in their own lives. >> how global is this problem? is it an american thing? >> it is a global problem. the statistics that show that bullying is happening all over the world. how it's defined and again the terms are varying between countries but it's a global issue that needs a global solution. >> jennifer, how does this snowball on itself? emily mentioned the anonymity that cyberbullying can allow. how does this create a bigger problem? >> we see cases where kids are bullied in school, and they
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can't stand up for themselves and then they do it online to others. it can snowball and teens don't always have the emotional tools to know they're hurting someone. we're seeing incidents all over the world where that is happening, and kids who are being bullied, they don't know where to go and what to do. and that middle school and high school won't last forever, and things will get better when they get finished with period of their lives. some states have made cyberbullying a misdemeanor punishable bpunishable. we'll talk about what that means.
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>> welcome back to "inside story" on today's show we're looking at cyberbullying, and what parents, schools and states can do to protect children against this phenomenon. every state but montana has laws against bullying, and 18 states have laws against cyberbullying. 46 states including electronic harassment as part of their bullying laws. still with us is debra, the bullying prevention manager for the robert f kennedy justice for human rights. and emily, author of "sticks and stones." and jennifer, the legal policy director for family online safety institute. let's start by looking at the laws. jennifer, paint us a picture of how the country deals with bullying, how it's against the law. >> yes well, the law created
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after a high profile incident, and we've seen that across america. right now, you know, there are a lot of provisions on the books in many states that can cover this as harassment anyway, but states are codifying cyberbullying. they want to include when it's e-mail harassment and social media as well. we're seeing a real trend in growth. there are concerns about how states define bullying. >> what is the punishment. >> in some states, up to a year in prison. that's worriy some because these are young teenagers. we want to make sure that they're getting the right help. the ones bowl bullying may have other problems, they may need resources and prison may not be the best option for them. >> debra, most states have laws against bullying, but less than half have laws that target
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cyberbullying. how are they treated differently? >> it's important to understand that in the 49 states, they are not criminal. they're saying that schools must have a policies again bullying. and it's concernin concerning. when our definitions have to be objective yet we have a child who feels like they're being bullied, and the child who we suspect is bullied, we don't want to punish them by throwing them in jail. there is no solution any more. >> emily, how does a kid know that the behavior that is being put upon them is wrong? shouldn't there be a system in the criminal justice system that tells them this behavior is not appropriate. you are a victim and you deserve to get help. >> you know, we are very quick to blame and stigmatize teenagers for bullying instead of thinking about the rul role t
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adopt play and social media play in not enforcing rules against harassment. going after teenagers for bullying is the wrong step to take. we want to put our energy in prevention. there are other ways in which kids with be held accountable through their school system and parents. we start thinking about criminal law without thinking how central families and schools are to this equation. >> emily, what about parents? we've seen some prosecutors look at the role that parents play when their children are the bullies? >> you know, that's true. i think, though, again, prevention is just a much more effective tool here than blaming people after the fact. especially in these really tragic cases where there is a spotlight on suicide. we want to be thinking about the kinds of conversations parents can have with their kids to
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prepare them. one thing that i say to my kids is i'm not going to open the door at midnight for you and expect you to figure out the city you live in for yourself. i'm going to make sure that i'm there with you. i feel the same way from the moment my kids get a smart phone. that's really having the internet in your pocket. i want to make sure that they know how to use it responsibly and are prepared for the bad things that can happen there. not to make it sound super scary. we know most of the harm that kids come to online come from other kids that they know. this is not a scary stranger danger scenario, necessarily. it's making sure to be kind and standing up for other kids when you see something bad going down. >> are there studies that show punishment, whether it's in the criminal justice system or schools. >> we're not finding any good studies. i think we need more research in cyberbullying, and regular in-person bullying as well and
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use research in terming how laws should be shaped. i think new york state is a great example. >> what are they doing in new york. >> they're learning bullying, intervention, prevention, how to report in the school in the process of reporting. >> what role do companies that run social media website, what role to they play? >> i think it's important for us to not blame the technology. this is a behavior that kids are engaging in. we need to focus on making sure kids know how to interact whether it's in person or online. that being said, facebook and twitter and all these other social media applications have taken some steps. but they're often overwhelmed with the number of reports that they get. we have to make sure that we, the parents, are keeping an
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active monitoring of our kids. it does not mean putting tracking systems on computers. it means asking kids what they're doing, requiring knowing passwords and cellphones, and accessing the internet. tech companies can only do so much around this behavior. >> emily, what do you think the role around tech companies are. >> the companies tend to have rules against bullying and harassment. the hard part is enforcing those rules. they have no legal responsibility to go out and look for bullying. but they do have a responsibility to respond to reports that they get. sometimes kids around parents and teachers get very frustrated with the lack of response when they're trying to report. the other question is whether the companies could do more to help kids create a cultural online on their sites that's a healthier culture by maybe if there is a trigger word and a
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post, maybe there should be an algorithm set up so you can't send the message right away. you just get back an automated post saying hey, do you mean to call someone a name like this. the companies have those tools at their disposal in a way that they're not currently using. >> this 12-year-old in florida who killed herself. her mom was trying to monitor, but she could not keep up with the hip new site, she missed crucial messages, and didn't realize that her child was being bullied again. >> that's true. that made me wonder if she was monitoring her daughter's phone. the news stories don't tell us that. rebecca's mother took the wise step taking away her phone last year and got her into counseling. we don't know how long that
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treatment went on and she was going to a new school and we don't know if if she had that support in place. also parents who have kids who are showing signs of being involved in bullying as victims or as perpetrators orchids who seem depressed or having issues with cutting the way rebecca reportedly did, can they handle having a smart phone, an independent device that gives them all this instant access to the internet. >> when we come back is spying on children the answer? we'll take a look at the dramatic step one california school district has taken to reduce cyberbullying. stay with us.
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my name is jonathan betz.
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>> in after effort to combat cyberbullying, a california school district has used a program that has raised concerns
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of instruction and freedom of speech. with us is debra, a bullying prevention manager. and from connecticut, emily, author of "sticks and stones." and back here in the studio, jennifer, the legal policies director for family online safety institute. let's look at what california is doing in this particular school district. jennifer, what about a child's right to privacy. >> we do have concerns about that particularly if they're looking at off campus speech, things that are not taking place on school network. i'm not sure that this is a right solution to combat cyberbullying. we want school districts to pay attention to what their children are doing online, their online behavior at home after school, but this is a new one that we're seeing in california. >> with we'll come back to the california question in just a moment. we heard a lot about not blaming people. we don't want to blame the bullies too much because they
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might need help as well. the parents of the bullies should not be held legally responsible. technology companies should not be on the hook. the blame ends up falling on the shoulders of parents of victims because they're the ones shouldered with the responsibility of checking, monitoring, and they're the ones that we're talking about. >> we don't want to see the blame fall on the shoulder ofs of parents of victims. but we want all parents to take an active role in learning about their kids online lives. we have help parents find resources, information about bullying and talking points so they can have a conversation with their kids and learn what they're doing online, what they're experiencing and how it makes them feel as well. >> emily, what do you think, does too much responsibility fall on the shoulders of parents? >> i think if all parents take this on, that's a healthy
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development. not just the parents of kids who are having problems. but everybody making sure that their kids have the message when they see something disturbing online even if it doesn't involve you personally you need to speak up. you need to help another kid. it's changing that culture of passive by standing to what some communities are starting to call upstanding. that's a hopeful development i see happening. >> how realistic is that? how hard is that for working parents to be able to stay up on all of this stuff, emily? >> instead of thinking of this that parents are expected to be on top of every new app. parents are doing the best they can to understand the technology and go where their kids are going and have a sense of it. you don't have to feel like you're doing every single thing in order to be like the parent who is a step ahead of your kids in the brand new sites they're going to in order to make a difference. if you have access to your kids'
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phone that's the main tool kids use. you should be able to follow them where they're going most of the time. >> debra, talk to us about what the california school district is doing, and glendale's method of monitoring communications. >> what it's pro poet something response mechanism as oppose to a prevention mechanism. it gives a false sense. we're going to catch all actions of bullying which is in and of itself probably a misnomer because there is such disagreement on what is bullying and what is not. it's hard when you're seeing a screen without knowing the relationships involved to understand if that's bullying or joking around. but when it's only a response system, they're flagging this, do schools have the tools? are they equipped to respond to these incidents? are they setting up the climate and culture that will prevent this before it starts? when we only focus on the response we're going to see the rates of bullying to continue--not go up, but at
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least stay steady at the 28% we're seeing. >> what can schools practically do? >> first and foremost there is no one size fits all. this is something that all schools have to understand. they can't grab a program off the shelf and expect it to work. they have to survey their students and understand what is actually going on in the school. many schools will say we don't have a bullying problem. but if you talk to their kids they really do. and so schools need to understand that contact and decide what steps they're going to take to prevent bullying. >> broader issues in the cultural when they see their family engaging in behavior that might be considered bullying, but adults have a thicker shell to deal with it, how do you tell kids don't behavior how you see happyinhappening around. >> you this is culture.
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parents should be encouraging teens to do good things, snead of mean things recognizing that they may be hurting someone else's feelings. >> when do teens do what their parents tell them? >> not often, but we can be good role models. this is how you should behave. these are the norms. not the kids who are bullying, but being an up stander is the right thing to do. >> thank you very much. we appreciate you being with us. that's all from the team in washington, d.c. and from me libby casey. you can keep this conversation continuing by logging on our facebook page or by twitter. you can reach me directly. thanks for watching.
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