OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS HIGHLIGHTS WAYS
TO HELP TEENS AVOID ONLINE BULLIES
WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), along with crime prevention and wireless organizations, today outlined steps parents can take to reduce the risk of their children becoming victims of online bullying. At a National Press Club briefing held as part of Internet Safety Month, OJP officials and national experts highlighted recent cyberbullying research and showcased state-of-the-art resources available to help middle- and high-school students avoid being threatened while using computers, wireless devices and other technology.
“The Internet and other communications technology make it easy to develop and maintain friendships, but in the wrong hands these tools can also be a means of harassing and intimidating young people,” said OJP Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick. “Parents need to be aware of the dangers their kids face when they use these devices and know how to guard against them.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Sedgwick joined representatives of the National Crime Prevention Council, The Wireless Foundation, and researchers to cite the prevalence of online bullying and to warn parents and teenagers against a casual approach to Internet use. A 2006 Harris Interactive research report commissioned by the National Crime Prevention Council found that 43 percent of teens reported having experienced some form of cyberbullying during the previous year. A woman recently was indicted on federal charges related to a cyberbullying hoax alleged to have taken place in the weeks leading up to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl.
Speakers at today’s briefing highlighted several key initiatives designed to educate young people and their parents on how to avoid inappropriate and unlawful online behavior. The Delete Cyberbullying public service campaign, administered by the National Crime Prevention Council with funding support from OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, helps teens understand the important role they can play in preventing cyberbullying. Also featured was Get Wise About Wireless: Be Safe, Be Courteous, a program run by The Wireless Foundation to educate students about proper cell phone use and the responsible behaviors associated with using a mobile device.
Urging Americans to “Click on the Reality,” speakers today provided tips for teenagers, parents and educators on how to avoid cyberbullies. For example, they encouraged parents to use filtering programs on their computers and to become familiar with text lingo and social networking sites. They also said that teens should be careful not to give out personal information on the Internet and to report any form of harassment, regardless of how harmless it seems. Educators should also establish policies on cyberbullying and other forms of Internet harassment.
Some of the programs highlighted today are central to the Department’s ongoing efforts under Project Safe Childhood, an initiative launched in 2006 to prevent online child sexual exploitation and to enforce child pornography and cyber-enticement laws. The safety precautions recommended as part of Project Safe Childhood translate easily to the prevention of cyberbullying. Officials from Sony Creative Software, Inc. also were on hand to announce the winners of its Public Service Announcement Creation contest, created in partnership with the Ad Council and National Crime Prevention Council. The winning entries will be available for broadcast on national television.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.