Braintree, MA Holds Cyberbullying Seminar

A small town in Massachusetts is making headlines with the help of a psychology researcher, Elizabeth Englander.

Englander is hosting an event so that families and communities can learn more about preventing cyberbullying and sexting. At 9:30 a.m., on March 20, in Braintree, MA families will be able to gather at the Braintree Town Hall for a presentation and discussion on how technology affects children and why these digital issues can be challenging for parents.

This is not the first time the town has held one of these seminars. Back in 2011, 40 people attended. While the numbers were low, the feedback was very helpful.  

The original purpose of the project was to raise awarness among parents about bullying and cyberbullying. The schools designed a proactive approach to combating the issue of bullying and cyber-bullying in its schools and developed a comprehensive Bully Prevention and Intervention Plan. Administrators, teacher, and other school staff have been trained to detect the warning signs of bullying, how and when to respond when bullying has occurred. In addition, students have been trained in how to prevent bullying and how to speak up and/or report when they witness these incidents. The final element of the Bullying Prevention and Interevtion Plan is to enlist the aid of parents in watching for and addressing bullying. This funding from Milton Hospital, now Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Milton, allowed them to close the loop in the plan by partnering with parents to ban bullying

As a researcher and a professor of Psychology for 25 years, Englander is a nationally recognized expert in the area of bullying, cyberbullying, childhood causes of aggression and abuse, and children’s use of technology.

“This presentation and discussion, led by Dr. Elizabeth Englander, will cover the myths that might be undermining parental confidence; broad issues to think about and why they matter,” an event press release said.”

According to the Patch,

Topics to be discussed include:

  • The impact of technology on brain development, behavior, and relationships.
  • How to talk to your kids about living with technology.
  • How to set rules and boundaries.

How JoJo Siwa Stands Up to Bullies

JoJo Siwa, the almost 16-year-old, Nebraska-native JoJo Siwa first became famous by appearing as a reality TVstar on Lifetime’s Dance Moms and Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.

She is now more popularly known for her adorable music videos, JoJo merch, sparkles and hair bows, and huge social media following (8.7 million on YouTube and counting!). But everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows for the famous 15-year-old.

One of JoJo’s earliest hits was the 2016 single “Boomerang,” in which she sings about cyberbullying and the courage to move beyond the negativity. Siwa chatted with TODAY Style for the “Why I Love My” series to share how she deals with internet haters and how she’s learned to love her hairline… even if she jokes it’s more of a “fivehead” than a forehead.

Focus on those 10 nice comments, and don’t let that one hate comment get to your day.”-Jojo

Siwa is also known for promoting positivity and anti-bullying messages in her various media appearances, which is something that JCPenney wanted to include in their merchandise line.

Fans of the teen star can expect to see a brightly colored clothing and merchandise line from JCPenney, with shirts, dresses, leggings, and jackets all featuring Siwa. The clothing also incorporates Siwa’s favorite things: bows, emojis, the color pink, and inspirational messages. Other than clothing, JCPenney has also released a merchandise line that includes comforters, bow-shaped pillows, as well as a JoJo doll that can sing.

Her famous bows represent more than a hair accessory, Jojo stated on Jimmy Fallon that, “If you’re wearing a Jojo bow you’re a Siwanator, and if you’re a Siwanator, you are someone who is strong, confident, powerful. You believe in yourself, you believe in everyone….” You are essentially an ally. If you see someone else in school wearing a Jojo bow, you know that you can find friendship with them.

Her advice to other kids getting bullied, “The message that I would give to anyone who was being bullied would be: just be yourself and don’t worry about the haters because it doesn’t matter. Honestly, come back like a boomerang!”

Be Internet Awesome


February 5th, 2019 is Safer Internet Day (SID). A promotional Holiday for kids all over the globe. Safer Internet Day aims to not only create a safer internet but also a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.


“The campaign aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators, and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. By celebrating the positive power of the internet, the Safer Internet Day slogan of Together for a better internet encourages everyone to join the movement, to participate, and to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together. With a global, community-led approach, Safer Internet Day encourages everyone to come together and play their part.”


Safer Internet Day U.S. is made possible by the generous support of Comcast, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, Symantec/LifeLock, Oculus, Trend Micro, and Twitter.


To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Be Internet Awesome teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.


The core of the education practices is to teach children, ultimately, how to be “Internet Awesome”. The fundaments are in The Internet Code of Awesome, which states:

Share with Care

Good (and bad) news travels fast online, and without some forethought, kids can find themselves in tricky situations that have lasting consequences. The solve? Learning how to share with those they know and those they don’t.


Don’t Fall for Fake

It’s important to help kids become aware that people and situations online aren’t always as they seem. Discerning between what’s real and what’s fake is a very real lesson in online safety.


Secure Your Secrets

Personal privacy and security are just as important online as they are offline. Safeguarding valuable information helps kids avoid damaging their devices, reputations, and relationships.


It’s Cool to Be Kind

The Internet is a powerful amplifier that can be used to spread positivity or negativity. Kids can take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you would like to be treated” to their actions online, creating a positive impact for others and disempowering bullying behavior

Breaking Down Michigan’s New Cyberbullying Laws


Like most states, Michigan already has cyberbullying laws in place. The laws currently in place state that each school district has to have a policy against cyberbullying. However, those laws are specific to schools, and their students. Cyberbullying can happen outside of schools and to individuals who have been out of schoo for many years. This new law actually makes cyberbullying a crime and gives law enforcement a way to enforce anti-cyberbullying laws against people who aren’t students or when students do this outside of school and off of school grounds. It also covers if the behavior is committed using a telecommunications access device, or if the telecommunications service provider is owned by or under the control of the school district.

Michigan lawmakers took action to fight cyberbullying last year, and the law took effect at the end of 2018.


These new laws were largely put into motion because of the tragic loss of Zoe Johnson , a 13-year-old Michigan girl . Her mother believes she committed suicide after being bullied and taunted by classmates on Facebook. At the time, police said the social media posts did not indicate criminal wrongdoing.


“Cyberbullying can cause just as much trauma as traditional bullying so it’s important that it be considered a crime,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, in a statement. 


Part of Michigan’s anti-bullying laws is giving a definition of bullying and cyberbullying:, states that, “Bullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

“Cyberbullying” means any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.


Major Win for Feminists Majority Foundation in case against the University of Mary Washington.

Yik Yak, a popular app used by College students in 2014, was under fire when members of the student group Feminists United say they were subjected to cyberbullying, cyberstalking and threats of sexual assault after they spoke out against Greek life on campus and against a distasteful chant the rugby team was recorded singing. Harassment came largely via Yik Yak, a now-defunct social media tool that used geotargeting to allow people on campus to make comments anonymously about others on the campus. In this case, the harassment was not the kind of mocking of feminists that is omnipresent online, but specific threats of violent acts, accompanied by the whereabouts of members of Feminists United, who were identified by name.

Yik Yak was a social media smartphone application that was launched in 2013. It was available for iOS and Android and it allowed people to create and view discussion threads anonymously within a 5-mile radius.

The jury found that officials at Yik Yak could and should have done more to protect students from online harassment.

The incident happened back in 2014 and 2015 and the case was dismissed last years after a Judge found that because the harassment took place on a platform that the University of Mary Washington had very little control over. The group also brought the issue at hand up as aTitle XI case, the Judge also said, “Title IX does not require the school to meet specific demands of its students “.

The case was taken to appellate court where the court ruled 2 to 1 on Wednesday that feminist students who sued the University of Mary Washington for failing to protect them from anonymous online harassment were entitled to pursue their lawsuit. The decision reversed a ruling by a lower court to throw out the lawsuit on First Amendment and other grounds.

This is not the first time the App has been found in the middle of controversy. Yik Yak’s image problems seemed to stem from its reliance on anonymous posts and the few solutions that were available to curtail racist, sexist, aggressive or threatening language.  The app faced a barrage of public image problems, as the platform became known for issues like cyberbullying due to the anonymous nature of user posts. Many high schools used geofences to ban Yik Yak from its campuses and there were several cases of the police subpoenaing Yik Yak after threats were made on the app. With its poor public image, Yik Yak failed to find any substantial advertisers and couldn’t find a sustainable business model.


In this case, the school was found to be negligent but many think the app is to blame for not having stricter guidelines and policies.


Published by GetnSocial

The Familiar Face of a Cyberbully


When we think about cyberbullies, the face that often comes to mind is that of a stranger: this hooded figure, prowling the internet, searching for someone they can attack, belittle, and damage online. They are a faceless, nameless person who believes that by remaining anonymous online, their identity can never be discovered. And even if you were to discover their true identity, it would come as no surprise that the culprit was the mean girl, the egotistical jock, or the school bully.


Unfortunately, this is not the case for many cyberbullying victims. The attacker has a face – one the victim is all too familiar with. According to a 2016 study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA), “the likelihood of cyberbullying [is] approximately seven times greater between current or former friends and dating partners than between young people who had neither been friends nor had dated.” Your cyberbully could very well be your best friend. While this may be a very hard pill to swallow, the fact that girls were twice as likely as boys to fall victim to cyberbullying, is less shocking.


Diane Felmlee, a professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University and the lead author of the study, explains why friends and former partners are so often times the perpetrators of these online attacks and rumors.


“Friends, or former friends, are particularly likely to find themselves in situations in which they are vying for the same school, club, and/or sport positions and social connections…young people often have resentful and hurt feelings as a result of a breakup, and they may take out these feelings on a former partner via cyber aggression.”


Knowing the perpetrator of the attack is someone so close to them can also impact a victim’s decision to come forward and report the bullying. Even more challenging is figuring out how to deal with the situation, as acting out in retaliation is exactly what the bullying is looking for from you. As is with any case of bullying, friend or foe, the best and hardest thing for the victim to do is walk away – not just from the attacks and the rumors, but from the relationship as a whole.


In the 2011 ABC Family movie “Cyberbully,” the main character Taylor, played by actress Emily Osment, learns this lesson the hard way. In the film, Taylor is terrorized by her classmates’ constant horrible comments, all of which were sparked by one rumor started by a boy Taylor met online. It is later revealed that Taylor’s best friend Samantha, played by Kay Panabaker, created the boy’s fake profile and started the rumor.


When you pull the cord to reveal the person behind the curtain, be prepared for who you might find. If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, or someone you know is the perpetrator, please tell a trusted adult.


Published by GetnSocial

Apps to Keep an Eye Out For


You never want to be known as a helicopter parent, but it is also a parents job to keep their children safe. Keeping up with teens and pre-teens can be exhausting in itself and adding technology into the mix only exacerbates it. To keep in the know we’ve researched the top Apps and Websites to educate yourself on and to help keep your kids safe.



If you were familiar with the website Formspring- This app is essentially a 2.0 version. The app allows people to ask questions and invites comments anonymously from users. It also allows you to post anonymous questions. Kids sometimes target one person and the questions get vulgar. It is cyberbullying with no chance of ever getting caught. A user’s account can quickly fill up with a stream of anonymous, hurtful messages that may or may not be coming from people you know. In an extreme case back in 2013, it was linked to the tragic death of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick. Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications.


Kik Messenger

This app has landed itself on multiple lists for parents to watch out for. Kik Messenger, commonly called Kik, is a freeware instant messaging mobile app from the Canadian company Kik Interactive. KiK does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.


Hiding Apps Aka-Calculator%

Sedgrid Lewis, online safety expert, notes that these apps look like a normal calculator app but when you enter a password using the buttons within the app they can hide all inappropriate pictures. “It’s a key way teens are hiding their nude pictures from their parents,” said Lewis. This app or more commonly used by boys to keep lued photos private and are usually sent in mass messages.

In 2015, there was a headline-making case in a Colorado high school where teens used apps to hide a huge sexting ring from parents and school.



Omegle’s tagline is “Talk to Strangers!”. This website came out back in 2008 and is very similar to Chatroulette

Omegle is a free online video chatting website that allows users to socialize with others without the need to register. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the names “You” and “Stranger” or “Stranger 1” and “Stranger 2” in the case of Spy mode”. It is famous for sexual predators trying to lure young children into inappropriate behaviors. Nothing good can come from this site.