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June 2006






H e n r y C o u n t y ’s F a v o r i t e F a m i l y M a g a z i n e

Honoring Dad

Cover Kids Contest!


Ways Fathers Model Healthy Relationships

Cyber Bullies

An In-Depth Look At A Growing Danger www.henryparent.com

Plus... Happening in Henry: Family Fun Calendar Kidspective Stepping Stones

premier issue



16 10 Ways Father’s Model Healthy Relationships

For Their Children

20 Cyber Bullies


Determining what’s best for your child, plus if and when to make the switch

Harmless or harmful?

11 Puppy Love

From the Editor Welcome to Henry Parent magazine! Finally Henry parents have a magazine that addresses the unique needs of the families that live “comfortably south of Atlanta”.

11 Always Inside 4 Stepping Stones

Ages and stages advice from infant through teen

8 Our Kids

Photo contest for our cover!

7 Ask Ellie

Teen Babysitters

23 Henry Happenings

Family Fun Calendar for events in and around Henry

22 Kidspective Henry kids tell us about... Summer Vacation Dreams

15 Hot Fashions (Middle School)

Hot weather fashions in the tween and teen world


Henry Parent is a monthly publication dedicated to informing, inspiring, and entertaining the proud parents of our great county. This magazine is written for local parents, by local parents. We support local businesses by providing a targeted advertising opportunity, and by showcasing different establishments in each issue. We highlight the beauty in all of our children with the Our Kids photo contest. We keep your calendar up-to-date with Happening in Henry, our listing of local family events. We also provide information directly from Henry County Schools and private schools in the county. We want to hear from you! Please visit our web site and send comments, suggestions, concerns, or just your two cents at www.henryparent.com Do you have an inner writer yearning to be free? We happily accept submissions! Please see our web site for details.




Reaching Important Milestones: Accurately measuring your baby’s growth and development General Guidelines adapted from works by the American Academy of Pediatrics

stepping stones

First words, first steps - these are the payoff moments most parents eagerly await after months of not sleeping, eating, or even showering with regularity. These milestones give important clues about how the baby is developing. Paying attention to these signs during the first months of life, and intervening if necessary, can turn a scary situation around. The first thing to keep in mind with developmental milestones is that there is a wide range of time during which children will achieve them. It is most important that you observe your child and note changes. In addition, every child should have one doctor who is the basic point of reference and knows the child well. What to look for Here are some general guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember, many babies accomplish these tasks before or after the average.



Newborn Lift their heads a little bit, fix and follow on a face or turn to a sound. 1 month old Raise head and chest when lying on stomach, follow moving objects, smile at the sound of a parent’s voice and imitate some facial expressions. 4 months old Roll over from front to back 6 to 8 months old Sit up, roll from back to front, start to make sounds, babble and explore with their hands and mouths. 9 to 11 months old Crawl and display the “pincer grasp” the use of the thumb and index finger to grasp objects. Concerned parents who think their child is delayed in reaching a milestone should discuss it with their pediatrician.




Toddler Anxiety:

Ways to Cure with Comfort and scoop from the safety of your lap. Once he’s comfortable, you can spend a few minutes playing next to him, then move to the edge of the sandbox (talking casually all the while), and finally settle yourself on a bench a few feet away.

What to do If something gives your child the willies, do what your instincts tell you to — cuddle and reassure him. But don’t stop there. Be creative about helping your toddler tackle his fears. These tips can help:

Practice separation. When he’s rested and in a playful mood, set a kitchen timer for one minute and exit the room. Ask him to watch the “tick-tock clock,” then reappear as soon as the bell rings. If watching you leave is too hard, have him leave instead. As his confidence grows, slowly lengthen the time you’re apart.

Acknowledge the fear. Some of your toddler’s anxieties (his fear of losing you, for example) are utterly normal, and denying them would be unrealistic. Saying things like, “I know it scares you when you can’t see Mommy, but I’ll always make sure you’re in a safe place” and “I would never do anything dangerous; I need to stay safe so I can take care of you” will help. Prepare him. If your toddler is timid when he encounters new people or places, help dispel his fears ahead of time by naming the people he’ll know there and mentioning the new ones he might meet. Take it slow. If he freezes up when you plop him down in the sandbox, for instance, climb in with him and let him sift

Say good-bye. Don’t sneak out when he’s preoccupied. This may only make him cling harder, since he never knows when you’ll disappear without notice. Instead, give him some time to get settled, then quickly and cheerfully say, “See you soon.” Don’t forget to give a time frame, too. “Mommy has to go now, but I’ll be back after you eat lunch and have your nap.” Consult your pediatrician if your child’s anxiety is troublesome to you.




e pp ig n gs tsotn oe nsew s s tsetp in

Many parents are worried as their brave baby seems to morph into a clingy, terrified toddler. The good news is that anxieties are completely normal for toddlers and will almost certainly fade as he gains more control over his feelings.


Is It Too Early for Organized Sports? How to Properly Evaluate Your Child for Competitive Readiness

stepping stones

By Suzanne Dixon, M.D., M.P.H. Skills are one thing. Readiness is another. Because each child is unique, there’s really no way to predict the age at which yours will be ready or willing to participate in group sports. Sometimes a child will signal readiness by an eagerness to play catch. Or perhaps you’ll notice that her play with other kids is evolving into group play with different kids. For a child to participate in any game with other participants, he should be able to follow three-step commands. (For example: “Go to the net where Sarah is goalie; do 20 kicks, and then change places.”) He also should be willing to wait his turn and act after he’s received instructions. Some kids will need a lot of encouragement and some time in the bleachers to get comfortable with the whole athletic scene. In terms of readiness, temperament is more important than skill. Sports participation should



never produce ongoing anxiety, persistent reluctance, or sadness in your child, no matter what age. Watch her responses to know what’s right for her. Even though you may be observing signs in your preschooler that he’s ready for a team, team sports are usually not ready for him. For one thing, a child this age has trouble keeping more than one thing in his mind at a time (“Run! Run fast! Whoops, I forgot to kick the ball.”). It’s quite a complicated process for a preschooler to get instructions, understand them, and then take the appropriate action. Remember, if you think your child is ready for team sports, limit your own expectations. Just being outside and active, meeting other kids, and perhaps wearing a cool uniform are often more than enough.


Ask Ellie

Practical Parenting Advice

“My 13-year-old daughter wants to start babysitting to earn money. She has a couple of families ready to hire her, but I’m worried that she’s too young. Is it a good time for her to start working?” ~ Worried For Nothing? McDonough, GA

family events, studying, chores, and friends. She should be able to put together a kit of age-appropriate toys, books, and activities for the children she will care for.

However, babysitting is more than just a part-time job. Caring for an innocent, defenseless baby or child is a huge responsibility and cannot be taken lightly.

Many parents forget that when they’re children begin jobs like landscaping, babysitting, and dogwalking, the parents are now working too. You are still responsible for her, and you are now committed to getting her to and from each of her clients. Make sure your schedule allows for the extra driving, and consider requiring her to contribute to the gasoline costs as part of the agreement. This will help her learn that working has expenses too, and is not just “easy money”.

If she is serious, she will be willing and eager to participate in babysitting courses like those offered by the American Red Cross, and she will take life-saving courses in CPR for both adults and infants. She should also be able to write out a schedule of her daily, weekly, and monthly activities, allotting time for any school projects, sports,

Finally, assess your daughter’s maturity. Does she complete homework and chores without much coaxing? Is her room neat? Does she have experience dealing with younger children (siblings or other family members)? If she is willing, able, and ready, a babysitting job is a wonderful way to introduce a teen to the world of working.

Ellie: It’s great that your daughter wants responsibility and some financial freedom, and her entrepreneurial spirit should be applauded.




Enter Your Child in the

Henry Parent Our Kids Photo Contest! Go to HenryParent.com to get a submission form, then e-mail electronic submissions to: ourkids@henryparent.com or see website for alternative methods

Some Our Kids Rules:

- Picture must be of a child of which you are the parent/legal guardian - The child must be the only person in the picture - A completed and signed release must accompany the submission - Pictures should be current (less than 1 year). Remember that additional pictures taken by Henry Parent staff may be required to showcase your child in the magazine - Picture must show the child’s entire face - Child must be a resident of Henry County




Youngsters Make Friends


hyness can be a disturbing trait to some parents, particularly those who are naturally more extroverted. But, like other personality traits, shyness is not a negative quality unless it is interfering with development.

However, if your child is simply intimidated by new people, and you are both ready to help ease her into more sociable behavior, the best place to start is at home. Under direct supervision, allow your child to interact with trusted members of the community. Have her hand the money to the pizza delivery driver, or let her take the package from UPS while you sign for it. Even these small tasks will help your child develop the attitude necessary to tackle bigger social events later.

Also contact the teacher and ask for a conference where you can voice your questions and concerns. Tell her that you would appreciate any suggestions and input she may have, and ask her how she might encourage your daughter to become friends with some of her classmates during outdoor play or group work. You may ask her to “buddy up” your daughter with a peer who has similar interests. Another resource is family; giving children time to work out squabbles with siblings and other young relatives helps build their self-confidence, which will make them more comfortable. Above all, never chastise your child for being shy; simply stress the joys of building new friendships.




stepping stones

Identifying the cause is the first key. Make sure there isn’t a traumatic experience triggering apprehension in your child. Did the shyness come on suddenly? Is it constant, or is it only around certain people or places? These answers may help you discover an underlying problem.

My name is Emily, and in seven years I’ll be an alcoholic. I’ll start drinking in eighth grade, and I’ll do some things I don’t really want to do. So by the time my parents talk to me about it, alcohol won’t be my only problem.

START TALKING BEFORE THEY START DRINKING Kids who drink before age15 are 5 times more likely to have alcohol problems when they’re adults. To learn more, go to www.stopalcoholabuse.gov or call 1.800.729.6686


Puppy Love

Should you step in and curb those curiosities? In a recent local survey,

2/3 of you said


The biggest key to knowing about your child’s feelings is communication. Arrange to be available and open for regular after school conversations with your child about their day. Avoid yes or no questions, and stick with open statements like “Tell me all about your


day.” While most kids won’t be comfortable answering a barrage of questions about who they like and why, many will give valuable clues during a daily dialogue about school. If a comment like “I think I like Max a little” is made, stay calm. You don’t want to overreact. OK, you may want to, but it’s not a good idea if you want your child to continue to talk to you. This is still the time for open-ended questions, like “What do you like about Max?” Keep it light, and that child is more likely to be comfortable coming to you in the ...continued on page 13



stepping stones

Many of us remember our first crush - butterflies in your stomach, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded and tongue-tied - and not just from the cafeteria food. Yet as innocent as our feelings were, as parents it is our job to recognize the who, what, when, and where of our children’s lives, including their budding emotions for others.

A ROLLER COASTER is held on by CENTRIPETAL FORCE. {Now if only my best friend would stop screaming in my ear.}

See the world through math and science. Go to girlsgotech.org.

NOTE TO PUB: DO NOT PRINT INFO BELOW, FOR ID ONLY. NO ALTERING OF AD COUNCIL PSAs. Girl Scouts - Magazine - GSUYR3-N-03021-B “Roller Coaster” 7 x 10 4/C 133 line screen digital files at Schawk: (212) 689-8585 Ref#: 219835 Volunteer Ad Agency: The Kaplan Thaler Group, ltd.

(continued from page 11) future. Remember that boys are generally not as expressive about their feelings as girls, and many harbor a great fear of being teased. This doesn’t mean he won’t talk to you, or that only Dad will get to have those heart-to-heart moments, but it may mean you have to be more patient and listen even more carefully for clues.

Ring Around the Rosie (resung by math) Ring around the radius. Let’s find the circumference. Diameter, diameter... Times it by pi!

By the 6th grade, many girls lose interest in math and science, which they may need for future jobs. So next time

One way to encourage communication is to change the subject from your child to “some kids” or “some pre-teens”. This way your child won’t feel singled out or attacked. Referencing the media, you can say “I read that some 5th grade girls think boys won’t like them because they’re tall.” This conversation can be a good opportunity to remind your child that people aren’t liked for just one quality.

your daughter wants to play, math is always a great addition. For some simple ideas, go to girlsgotech.org.

With technology-savvy kids, remember to keep things like e-mails and text mail to a reasonable minimum. Many parents have discovered their kids online communications after risky activities have already taken place. Remember that you are not alone. Compare notes with other parents and younger relatives. Believe it or not, many experts agree that the first crush is nothing to worry about.




NOTE TO PUB: DO NOT PRINT INFO BELOW, FOR ID ONLY. NO ALTERING OF AD COUNCIL PSA Girl Scouts - Magazine - GSUYR3-N-03021-D “Rosie” 2 1/4 x 10 4/C 133 line screen







Weather Fashions:


the Envelope?

With boys, the usual culprit is not on the outside, but what’s underneath. The trend of showing off their boxers and other undergarments has not only caused many adults to shake their heads in confused disgust, but has led some municipalities around the country to create laws criminalizing followers of this fad.

to dress that way, but I see a lot of his friends do,” says Terry Windley, father of two. “I don’t see how they run around like that, with their pants almost around their ankles. And they always have to have a hand on their waistband just to hold them up. What’s the point?” For girls, the expression of sexuality through clothing is evident at a younger age than ever before. Lacy camisole tops, skin-tight jeans, and mini skirts are prevalent options for young girls today. Before they even get to the mall these girls are bombarded with images of young celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and the stars of shows like “Laguna Beach” and “The OC”.

“My 10-year-old son isn’t allowed



While girls are open to receiving (continued on page 20)


stepping stones

No one can argue that fashion trends for pre-teens and teens have become progressively more controversial. As kids enter an age when they actively want to exert as much independence as possible as often as possible, many parents are locked in an ongoing battle with their kids about what clothing is acceptable for this age group - especially during hot weather.

10 Relationships for Their Children

Ways Fathers Model Healthy

By Steven Stosny, Ph.D. Your children learn how men should behave in relationships by watching you. Even if you do not live with their mother, they are keenly aware of the way you interact with her. Most divorce and domestic violence happens to men and women who grew up without a father modeling healthy relationship behavior. Here are 10 tips to help you model the way you want your daughter to be treated in her adult relationships, and the way you want your son to treat the woman he loves. 1. Value their mother: Children value themselves and others more when they feel that their mother


and father value one another. 2. Perspective-taking (seeing things through someone else’s eyes): Show your children the importance of respecting the perspectives of people they love, even when they disagree with them. 3. Cooperation: Show how to participate willingly in work, problemsolving, or task-accomplishment. 4. Negotiation: Show your children how to work out solutions to problems that respect one another’s perspectives. 5. Resourcefulness: Never stop trying to make things better.



6. Motivation to improve: Approach disagreements with the attitude of making them better, not worse. 7. Compassion: This gut-level reaction to your wife’s pain, discomfort, or anxiety includes sympathy, protectiveness, and willingness to help but not control. It recognizes that your wife is different from you, with her own temperament, set of experiences, beliefs, values, and preferences. 8. Good will: Learning a positive attitude toward the people they love will greatly improve your children’s chances of having good relationships. Think good thoughts about your wife, and always give her the

benefit of a doubt. 9. Affection: Showing affection toward their mother makes children feel more secure. 10. Relationship investment: Successful relationships require that people care about and occasionally do nice things for one another. About The Author Dr. Steven Stosny has appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” and CNN’s “Talkback Live” and “Anderson Cooper 360” and has been the subject of articles in several prominant newspapers and magazines.


Henry Parent We are currently seeking organized, caring, proven professionals for the following positions: Account Managers - Sales P/T Photographer Please submit your resume and letter of interest to jobs@henryparent.com






Tips For Better Grades In Math

Tips by Dr. Kempton Smith

stepping stones

With most American students consistently achieving math scores that are lower than their language arts counterparts, it is no wonder that many high school students approach math classes feeling defeated. However not only can math at any level be grasped by young teens, but a stronger comprehension of math now bodes well for their future success. In an effort to ease the pain associated with math, try passing these simple tips on to your high school math student: 1. Don’t just aim for 70%. Aim high and shoot for 100%. 2. When doing your math homework, be neat. It does make a difference. 3. It’s not just the answer that counts in math. Much of your grade is based on the intermediate steps in getting to the answer, so show all your work. Your objective should be to convince your teacher that you know how to do the problem.



4. It is important to read over the material in your math text book. Don’t just focus on your homework problems. 5. Take notes from class and write neatly. When you study them, check points you need to review. 6. If you don’t understand something, ask your teacher or someone “in the know” as soon possible. 7. Look for bold face and italic copy. They signify important points to remember. 8. If your homework assignments were just the even numbered questions, then do some of the others in reviewing for a test. 9. Keep up with your class on a daily basis. Try hard not to get behind. 10. Don’t take the attitude that you aren’t good in math. Have a positive attitude. Think, “I can do this, I can get a good grade in math.”



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By Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese


A high school boy was surprised, and alarmed, to find out that he was the subject of a Web page called “Welcome to the Page That Makes Fun of Dave Knight.” The page was filled with derogatory comments from David’s classmates about David and his family. Among the accusations, David was described as a pedophile using the date rape drug on young boys. After a trip to Toronto, a middle school girl found no one would talk to her when she returned to classes. Using text messaging on cell



phones, someone had started a rumor that she had caught SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) while traveling. An overweight boy in Japan changing clothes in a school locker room didn’t know a classmate used a picture phone to photograph him. The photos were soon posted on the Internet and forwarded to many of his classmates. Cyberbullying, using new communication technology to torment others, is taking humiliation to a frightening


level. Hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, cyberbullies are able to hurl threats, spread rumors, trash reputations, and damage fragile egos, usually without being caught. The incredible scope of the Internet means that a cyberbully can reach millions with the click of a mouse. “Rather than just some people, say 30 in a cafeteria, hearing them all yell insults at you, [a Web page] is up there for 6 billion people to see,” David Knight told a Canadian TV reporter. “You can’t get away from it.” Adolescents love new technology, everything from the Internet to iPods, from camera phones to camcorders. Parents, who foot the bill for their children’s electronic toys, remain oblivious of the dangers for misuse. According to the 2000 study Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth, by the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, one in 17 kids ages 10 to 17 has been threatened online, and about one-third of them found the incident very upsetting. A 2002 study done in Great Britain by NCH, a children’s charity, said that one in four students had been bullied online. In the past, experts were most concerned about adults threatening children online. Now, however, an increasing number of complaints


involve kids menacing their schoolmates. Charting new legal territory Because cyberbullying is such a new phenomenon, school and law enforcement officials in the United States and other countries are still sorting out the legal technicalities. “Most of what is done online is protected as free speech,” says Frannie Wellings, policy fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC. In contrast to print publications, where individual stories are checked for libel and accuracy, the atmosphere surrounding web sites is freer. “An editor of a newspaper or magazine has to make a conscious decision about what happens in his pages,” observes Wellings. “There is a lot of history on what has happened to publishers who were sued,” she adds. Because of the vastness of cyberspace, few screening mechanisms exist. “Imagine the bureaucracy of policing everything online,” says Wellings. “An Internet Service Provider [ISP] would have to go to great lengths and spend a lot of money.” As a result, most ISPs maintain that they are merely a conduit for individuals who want to post information online. Most ISPs have policies telling people not to post offensive material, but ...continued on page 26



(continued from page 17) style information in elementary school, it’s often not a priority until middle-school, where peer pressure is greater and where they first share a campus with teenagers. Henry County Schools policy states that In-School Suspension awaits a first-time offender found guilty of violating any part of the Dress Code, which states, “Clothing will be clean, neat, and worn properly.” Wearing pants so low that a student’s underwear is visible is not acceptable. Some instances are made right with a quick reminder by a teacher in the hall, and students do have the chance to correct their dress code violation under the supervision or the authorization of their parent/guardian and may return to regular class upon correction of the violation. A number of school officials who agree that most students do make good choices about what is appropriate for school. Even with that knowledge though, if have a middle-school child or soon will, you may


be comforted by the fact that there are a number of ways to decrease the number of outfit outrages your child brings your way. The key and the challenge for parents is to determine the best way to teach their kids what is appropriate clothing before they start testing the boundaries. Spend some time flipping through teen magazines with them and watching some of their favorite shows. Try pointing out what you like and don’t like about some of the fashions you see. This will help your child will become more comfortable discussing fashion with you, and it will help you understand his or her tastes better. Also, get a good idea of what they already have in their closets. This information will be valuable when you try to convince them that a new item will or won’t go with other clothes they have. If your child goes shopping on her own or with a more lenient adult, don’t rush to admonish her choices as soon as she walks in the door. Instead give her an opportunity to try on her new clothes and show them to you. If something is inappropriate, explain why and offer an alternative. Remember this when your angel tries to leave the house in little more than a swimsuit: this too shall pass.



Happening In and Around Henry Family Fun Calendar Cruise-in

Lost in the ‘50s

Schedule: 6-8:30p.m. Mondays through Oct. 30 (except holidays) Venue: Summit Racing Equipment Address: 20 Kings Mill Road McDonough, GA Cost: Free admission Information: 770-288-3200 www.summitracing.com

Schedule: 5-9 p.m. third Saturdays through October Venue: O.B.’s Barbecue Address: 1000 Tanger Blvd Locust Grove Cost: Unspecified Information: 770-954-0511

Summer Dance Series

Chess Club

Schedule: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays Venue: Clayton County Public Library Headquarters Branch Address: 865 Battlecreek Rd. Jonesboro, GA Cost: Free Ages 8-15 Information: 770-473-3850 http://www.claytonpl.org

Auto Racing: Thursday Thunder Summer Racing Series Schedule: 6 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 3 Venue: Atlanta Motor Speedway Address: 1500 US 19/41 South Hampton, GA Cost: $5; $1 ages 6-11; ages 5 and younger free Information: 770-946-4211


Schedule: Thu Jul 20, 10:00 am Venue: Henry County Performing Arts Center Address: 37 Lemon St. McDonough, GA Cost: $8 Information: 770-507-2775 http://www.atlantafestivalballet.com

Chocolate: The Exhibition

Schedule: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. MondaysSaturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 13 Venue: Fernbank Museum Address: 767 Clifton Rd NE Atlanta, GA Cost: $12; $11 senior citizens and students; $10 ages 3-12; 2 and younger free Information: 404-929-6300 http://www.fernbank.edu/museum Tickets: 404-929-6400



KIDspective Current hot topics and everyday issues from the mouths (well, hands) of our kids

What My Friends and I Want To Do When We’re Online I know parents are afraid for kids to go on the internet. Parents are afraid of everything. I know because my mom is always telling me about not sharing my information and not talking to anyone online. I have an e-mail account and an instant message account, but that’s it. I don’t have my own site or anything yet. I also know about those shows where they catch the men online trying to date teenagers. That is so gross. When I’m on the internet I don’t talk to anybody except my mom when I’m at my dad’s house. The web sites I like are Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Stardoll. I like to play games and have cyber pets. For school reports I have to do research on the internet, which I hate. Unless I use an encyclopedia site, most of the time the information I find isn’t even true, and I end up spending more time figuring out what’s real and what’s not than I do on the report! My mom showed me how the “good” sites will ask her before they let me play on their sites because I’m under 18. A lot of the sites I was going to before she showed me that never asked


By Taelor Moran Age 10

for my parents e-mail or anything. Some of my friends and family have MySpace pages, but I don’t. The pages I’ve seen were nice, with music playing and good pictures of the kids on them. I think they have it set so only people they know can ever look at their pages, so none of those gross creepy people can try to talk to them. Sometimes we watch videos on the internet, like through Yahoo! or YouTube. I don’t watch videos on TV because I’m not allowed to see most of them. I see kids dancing like they do in videos a lot, at school or the skating rink. I don’t want to dance like that and neither do my friends. I can get on the internet on my cell phone too, but my mom said she’s going to take that feature off. Most of my friends have cell phones, but some don’t have the internet service. Right now, the only thing we really care about on the internet are games and music, but I understand why parents freak out.




(continued from page 21) that warning is often ignored. While some of what is published online may seem libelous (i.e., intended to harm the reputation of another), proving that point can be difficult and expensive. In order to prove libel, you have to prove malicious intent, something that might prove difficult if the offending Web page was put up by an adolescent. And many times, freedom of speech wins out. Unless an actual crime has taken place, law enforcement officials often are unable to arrest anyone, even if they can identify the culprit. According to Lt. John Otero, commanding officer of the computer crime squad for the New York City Police Department, individuals would actually have to post a direct threat in order for the police to act. “For example, if they say, ‘tomorrow I am going to hurt, kill, or injure an individual,’ that would constitute a crime,” he explains. A person posting such a threat could be arrested and charged with aggravated harassment. Although Otero says his department has seen some arrests, anyone under the age of 18 would


not be dealt with harshly: “If the kid is too young, he would get a scolding and the incident would be brought to the parents’ attention; if they are under 16, they are considered minors.” Most of what police departments see, however, does not constitute an actual crime. “What we get is a lot of ‘he said, she said,’ not unlike what you would find in the boys’ room, only now they are doing it using electronics,” says Otero. Since most cyberbullying originates on home computers, school administrators resist getting involved. Officials at David Knight’s school refused to take action, for example, saying they couldn’t uncover who put up the Web page. David’s mother complained to Yahoo, the host for the Web page, but weeks later, the page was still up. Unable to withstand the pressure, David finished his final year of high school from home. Same bullying, different form Like cliques, cyberbullying reaches its peak in middle school, when young adolescents are trying to figure out who their friends are and



whether they fit in. “Third- and 4th-graders are just having fun with computers,” says Loretta Radice, who taught computer skills to middle-schoolers in public and private schools for more than 15 years. Radice is now director and technology consultant for RADICEL Educational Technology Services in New York, and holds private computer classes for children and adults.

While the cyber- bully believes he cannot be caught, Radice notes that everyone leaves footsteps in cyberspace. “Everything is traceable,” she says. “Kids often don’t realize that.” For example, anyone putting up a Web page in cyberspace needs to pay with a credit card. If your child is being taunted online, you can type in the name of the Web page on www.whois.com and find out who paid for the offending page.

Too many parents, she believes, get bogged down in the new technology and forget that cyberbullying is, at Similarly, eKids feel free to say its core, just another mails and inthings on a computer form of bullying. stant messages “A child who is bulscreen that they would (IMs) can be lying other children never say face-to-face. traced through in cyberspace has screen names been bullying earand addresses lier,” says Radice. Similarly, a child provided by the ISP, such as Amerwho is being victimized online has ica Online. Uncovering the culprit probably suffered other abuse. may take time, effort, and possibly even the help of a technology Hiding behind the anonymity of expert, but it can be done. “Somethe Internet emboldens some bul- times bullying can be refuted belies. Kids feel free to say things on cause everything is verbal and there a computer screen that they would is no trail,” explains Beth Madison, never say face-to-face. A cyberbully principal of George Middle School can feel removed from his actions, in Portland, Oregon. With cyberalmost as if someone else, his alter bullying, however, children can be ego perhaps, is doing the taunting. taught to print out offending mesWithout seeing the consequences sages. Madison says a girl in her of his behavior (the hurt or tears school printed out offensive IMs. on another child’s face), how can a Armed with the evidence, her parbully feel sympathy for his victim, ents were able to come to the school or remorse? and ask for advice. Madison ...continued on page 28




(continued from page 27) coached them on how to respond to the other parents. The meeting took place, Madison says, and the cyberbullying stopped. Patti Kinney, principal of Talent Middle School in Talent, Oregon, and president-elect of the National Middle School Association, says that she will work with parents if their children are being harassed online. “If we can help, we will give it our best shot,” she says. “If the incident is beyond our control, we will help them contact the police or an ISP.” Yet, in the final analysis, there’s only so much that the police and school officials can do to stop a cyberbully. Otero, who lectures frequently to school officials and parents, believes the solution comes back to “Parenting 101.” “Most of the time, these kids are better equipped to deal with computers than their parents [are],” he observes. “Most parents don’t have a clue what their kids are doing online.” He advises parents not to use the computer as a babysitter and to educate themselves on the new technology. Strategies to protect your children Even with cooperative school officials, parents remain on the front line protecting their children. Here are some strategies parents can implement:


Learn about the new technologies. If you are unfamiliar with the Internet, now is the time to start surfing the Web. Learn the many ways that children can bully electronically, through IMs, e-mails, blogs (Web logs that are online diaries), and videos that are downloaded from camcorders or picture phones. Talk about values. The technology may have changed, but kindness and decency should still be top priorities for everyone. Guard passwords. A bully can use another child’s screen name to send out offensive e-mails. Tell your child not to share passwords with friends and to change passwords frequently. Talk to your child if you believe he is the victim of a bully. Oftentimes



a child being tormented by a cyberbully will be too embarrassed to tell a parent or teacher. Make sure your child knows he’s not to blame for being targeted and that he should report any incident to you or an adult at school. Keep copies. Having documentation of the cyberbullying will strengthen your case if you need to report it to school or other authorities. Otero advises not to delete the original e-mail, even after you have printed it out. “There may be something in the original [e-mail] header that would lead us to the source,” he says. Lobby your school. Even if cyberbullying happens outside of school, the repercussions spill over into the classroom. Computer etiquette should be on your school’s agenda.

Harassment – repeatedly sending offensive messages Denigration – “dissing” someone online by spreading rumors or posting false information Outing and trickery - disseminating intimate private information or tricking someone into disclosing private information, which is then disseminated Impersonation – pretending to be someone else and posting material to damage that person’s reputation Exclusion – intentional exclusion from an online group Cyberstalking – creating fear by sending offensive messages and other harmful online activities How, Who, and Why

Types of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying may occur via personal web sites, blogs, e-mail, discussion groups, message boards, chat, instant messaging, or text/image cell phones. A cyberbully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may enlist the aid of others, including online “friends.” Cyberbullying may be a continuation of, or in retaliation for, inschool bullying. It may be related to fights about relationships or be based on hate or bias. Some teens think cyberbullying is entertaining, just another fun game.

Flaming – angry, rude arguments

...continued on page 30

Stress the Internet’s impact. An email sent to one child can be forwarded to hundreds. Old e-mails and IMs may resurface and get even a well-meaning child in trouble. Encourage your child to think before clicking. The following information is provided by the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.




(continued from page 29) Teens may not be concerned about the consequences of harmful online behavior because: They think they are invisible or can take steps to become invisible, so they think they can’t be punished. There is no tangible feedback about the harm they cause, so it seems like a game to them. Online social norms support cyberbullying: “I have a free speech right to post whatever I want, regardless of the harm I cause.

The Harm

Cyberbullying can cause great emotional harm to the target. Online communications can be very cruel and vicious. Cyberbullying can be happening 24/7. Damaging text and images can be widely disseminated and impossible to fully remove. Teens are reluctant to tell adults – for fear of overreaction, restriction from online activities, and possible retaliation by the cyberbully. There are emerging reports of youth suicide and violence related to cyberbullying.

Find out what public online sites/communities your child uses and periodically review what your child is posting. Emphasize that these sites/communities are public and that your child should never post personal contact information, intimate personal information, or provocative sexually oriented material. (Your child may argue that you are invading his/ her privacy. These are PUBLIC places!) Tell your child that you will investigate his/her private online communications if you have reason to believe that he/she has engaged in unsafe or irresponsible behavior. You can install monitoring software to do this Make joint Internet use management agreements with the parents of your child’s friends – addressing the time they can spend online, approved activities, and a mutual parental agreement to monitor and report

Responsible Management of Children’s Internet Use

Preventing Your Child from Becoming a Cyberbully

Parents have a moral and legal obligation to ensure their children engage in safe and responsible behavior online! • Keep the computer in a public place and supervise its use



Make it clear that all Internet use must be in accord with family values of kindness and respect for others and any violation of this expectation will result in monitoring of all on-


line activities using Internet use monitoring software. If your child is being bullied at school, work with the school to stop the bullying and make sure your child knows that he/she should not retaliate online

Preventing Your Child from Being a Target of Cyberbullying Frequently discuss the concerns of public disclosure of intimate personal information and the value of modesty • Visit and discuss the values demonstrated by others in your child’s favorite online communities • Insist that the school intervene effectively to address any inschool bullying • Seek to “bully-proof” your child by reinforcing your child’s unique individual strengths and fostering healthy friendships


with kids you trust to be kind Warning Signs that Your Child Might be the Target •

Expression of sadness or anger during or after Internet use • Withdrawal from friends and activities, school avoidance, and decline of grades, signs of depression and sadness. Pay close attention if your child is being bullied at school or having any other difficulties with peers. These are the teens that are most often targeted by cyberbullies. Action Steps and Options to Respond to Cyberbullying • • • • •

Save the evidence Identify the cyberbully(s) Ask your ISP for help Clearly tell cyberbully to stop Ignore the cyberbully by leaving the online environment or ...continued on page 33




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(continued from page 31) blocking communications • File a complaint with the Internet or cell phone company • Seek assistance from the school, if the cyberbully also attends the same school. (But because of free speech protections, if the cyberbullying is occurring totally off-campus, your school may only be able to provide informal assistance, not formal discipline.) • Send the cyberbully’s parents a certified letter that includes the evidence of cyberbullying. Demand that the actions stop and harmful material be removed • Contact an attorney to send a letter or file a lawsuit against the parents based on defamation, invasion of privacy, or intentional infliction of emotional distress • Call the police, if the cyberbullying involves threats of violence, coercion, intimidation based on hate or bias, and any form of sexual exploitation Reporting other concerns … If you have suspicions your child is involved with an online sexual predator, call the police. Do not talk to your child, he/she could warn the predator. If you see any online threats of schoolrelated violence, call both the school and the police. If you see any material that raises concerns a child is emotionally distressed and may be contemplating suicide,



self-harm, or other violence, contact the counselor of the school the child attends. Nancy E. Willard, Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use Additional resources are available at http://cyberbully.org.


June 2006






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