Monday, October 17, 2011

What Do You Think?: Cyber Gossip


Bianca and her friends have hung out together since they were little. They’ve had the same teachers all through the 6th grade. But now they’re in junior high and don’t see each other all the time except during lunch. So they all set up Facebook accounts to connect during class and after school. Bianca didn’t want one at first, but her friends made an account for her and requested a bunch of “friends”. Over the course of the first day, Bianca had over 50 friends on Facebook. She noticed that everyone was talking about the big school dance on Friday.

It’s now Friday and Bianca and all her friends are having a blast! Towards the end of the dance, Bianca gets asked to dance by a boy she has had a crush on named Kevin and she giggles with her friends before saying yes. As soon as the dance is over she gets home and logs on to Facebook. She starts talking to her friends about how much fun she had at the dance. Her friends are posting pictures of her and Kevin dancing and making comments on them. They are calling her really bad names, and making up rumors about her and Kevin. She doesn’t know what do to and sits in her bedroom, crying herself to sleep, dreading school on Monday.

Questions for discussion:

1. Why do you think the girls are spreading these rumors about Bianca?
2. What should Bianca do to make the girls stop?
3. How would you feel if someone was spreading rumors about you online?
4. Who can you talk to if someone is spreading rumors about you?
5. Should Bianca retaliate towards the girls?


**About 50% of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying.

**Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying.

**Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying.

**Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls.

**21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.

**58% have not told their parents or another adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

***53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.

What Can Mentors Can to Help Prevent This?:

**Educate. Teach your mentee what to do in cases where they feel threatened or bullied. They should ignore the offender and contact an adult immediately.

**Be your mentee’s support system. The biggest way to prevent your mentee form being a victim is to keep the lines of communication open. Your mentee needs to feel that he or she can come to you without negative repercussions. This also means listening carefully and avoiding the tendency to trivialize what they are experiencing. It may not seem like a big deal to an adult, but it can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of a child or teen.

**Know the danger signs. You mentee may become more withdrawn or moody. They may spend more time online, or may refuse to use the computer altogether. They may cut off ties with friends. If your mentee gives any indication that they are being bullied on or offline, take it seriously and report it to your case manager or their school personnel. It is of utmost importance to make sure this doesn’t hurt them more or turn into something bigger.

**Try to help your mentee understand. Ask if the rumor was meant to hurt them, or was it just a case of misinformation or exaggeration? Is someone trying to get back at them for something?

**Talk with your mentee about resisting the urge to take revenge. Keep in mind that when someone starts a rumor meant to hurt another person, he or she is probably doing it because of insecurity or unhappiness. If you are a victim of gossip and rumors, you might want to think up lies or expose secrets that you know and take revenge. This might feel good, but only for a short time, and can potentially lead to serious consequences.

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