Family Safety News: 3 Big Stories You May Have Missed

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The news that produces a safer Internet for our kids is not always good but it is shaping the digital landscape in some very big ways. Here are three big stories you may have missed and some talking points for your family.

Are Your Kids ‘Driving and Vining?’

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Talking to an invincible teen about the dangers of texting and driving is a challenge but what about driving and Vining? That’s right, one browse through the popular Vine app and it takes about two clicks to see that a lot Vine’s users film their videos while they are driving. According to a recent report in Mashable ‘vining and driving’ is a new form of distracted driving. Since a user must hold down a record button to make a Vine video, there’s no getting around the danger inherent in this new trend.

Talking points: What can you do? Talk to your kids about this dangerous trend and keep an eye on their Vine account to be sure they are not tempted to film while driving.

California Passes Digital ‘Eraser’ Law for Teens

In an effort to protect teens from career and college dings and a trail of embarrassment from regretful online posts, California recently passed a law requiring websites to allow people younger than 18 to remove their own postings on that website, and to clearly inform minors how to do so. The new California law, reported in The Huffington Post, is supported by Common Sense Media, Children NOW, Crime Victims United, the Child Abuse Prevention Center and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

We will keep you informed about the law’s impact on teen behavior, bullying, and both the positives and negative results that may follow. Stay tuned to see if the law makes its way to your state.

Talking points: If you live in the 49 states outside of California, reinforce to your child the importance of keeping a clean slate online because there is still no way of deleting a wayward post or photo. Be sure they did not hear just “some” of the law and think it applies to them if they are outside of the sunshine state.

Three States Cracking Down on Cyberbullying

Sadly, a number of reported cyberbullying cases across the U.S. have ended tragically. In just the first weeks of this new year, lawmakers in three states have introduced legislation that could result in felony charges for cyberbullying.

In Florida: According to news reports, Legislators want to make bullying a misdemeanor and aggravated bullying a third-degree felony. “Rebecca’s Law,” is named after Rebecca Sedwick, a 12 year-old girl who committed suicide after reportedly being relentlessly bullied by two of her female classmates. Under HB 451, anyone charged with bullying would have to engage in a “pattern of activity” which “involves a series of acts over any period of time which evidences a continuity of purpose.” In addition, victims of bullying must feel there’s a “credible threat” causing them to fear for their safety. A judge would determine whether the bullying in question would meet the criteria. Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who sponsored the bill, launched PassRebeccasLaw.com, an anti-bullying website designed to get the public involved in passing the bill.

In Colorado: Lawmakers have introduced two bills that would define cyber bullying by kids as harassment and if sexually explicit photos are involved it would be a felony. The bill is meant to address cases of a teenage boy, for example, posting nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend to humiliate her. 

In California:  USA Today recently reported that Audrie’s Law” will be introduced in the Legislature by state Sen. Jim Beall. The bill is named after Audrie Pott, a California teen who committed suicide days after reportedly being sexually assaulted by three boys.

The key points of the bill include: A) Sexual assault involving penetration of any kind would become a felony for both juveniles and adults. B) The judge would be given discretion for serious crimes to disclose a minor’s name and records publicly. The juvenile would be listed as a sex offender, which would give parents and school administrators the right to know the juvenile’s identity. C) Equal protection under the laws relating to sexual assault would be afforded to unconscious victims. D) It would be an automatic felony to disseminate photographs depicting the commission of any sexual assault.

Talking points: If your kids are age appropriate, discuss what’s happening around the country and how cyberbullying is being defined as a criminal act. This is a good time to ask them if they are experiencing conflict with any of their peers on or offline and how to handle it.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @SafeEyes. (Disclosures).

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