Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Q&A with government panel

Andrew Newman -
There is a sense by schools that their responsibility ends at the end of the school day. But bullying doesn't stop when the clock strikes 3 pm. Bans and lock downs are not well received and don't work. It's like Prohibition. Many parents want their kids to have cellphones in a post 9/11 world.
Deputy Attorney General Hicks -
Sometimes you reach parents through their church. Sometimes their doctor. We have to look beyond the school and PTA.
Sheriff Judd -
These students are children. When we teach them to walk, we don't take them to a busy intersection or a highway. 1 in 7 children receive a sexual situation online. That's a problem. Parents and schools have a responsibility to limit access till we grow these children up.

Educators, law enforcement, public servants try to respond

Tom Mauer (sp?) (Sheriff from Ohio) - "Everyone has a story, a reason why this issue becomes important to them. My turning point came about 6 years ago. A 12 year old child hung himself after being bullied about being overweight."

Aaron Brown (?) (South Brunswick, NJ School District) - develops curricula for South Brunswick teachers and parents.

Sheriff Grady Judd in Florida - bullying incident that went up on Youtube. He knew that the video would go up on the Web no matter what so his office decided to be the one to release it.

JustinBrookman (Chief of the Internet Bureau - New York Attorney General's Office) - girl whose Facebook account was hacked and could not get the malicious content removed. Reached out to FB and consent order has helped turn FB into one of the most responsive social networking sites around.

Lisa Hicks-Thomas (Deputy Attorney General for VIrginia) active in online safety for kids. Federal laws were much tougher than our state laws, so we changed that. One of the biggest changes came out of the Parent-Educator group. Also PSA contest. "The best ambassadors for our kids are our kids."

Andrew Newman (Deputy to Westchester Country Executive Spano). Bullying is a big problem in Westchester. Parry has really helped us. Created a video and sponsored a summit to get the word out. Bring government, industry, families, kids.

Valerie Smits (sp?). Technologist and educator in Wisconsin. Sacred passage from children to adults. Standards of the Heart teaches compassion. Also, 21st century skills. "We struggle with how best to respond and banning everything (like texting) may not be the best response."

FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harper. She used to work for the NY Attorney General in the mid-90s when the Internet was first taking off. First became aware of these issues via Operation Rip Cord (Child Pornography). What do we do at the FTC? Cyberbullying tends to fall under criminal rather than civil law (where the FTC operates). 3 pronged approach - law enforcement, consumer education and business education.

Moselle Thompson, Commissioner US Federal Trade Commission. Now on Facebook's Advisory Board.
"The kids who are most at risk online are the same kids who are at risk offline. The kids who are bullying online are the same ones who are bullying offline."
Lets not lose sight of the role that parents need to play. Remember that a 13 year old is 13. And they make 13 year old decisions. Lastly, competition is good in this area. Cooperation is important. But we need competition in tools to fight this arms race.

myYearbook and Jagex/Runescape get special acknowledgment

Best practice seal for myYearbook.com and special acknowledgment for Jagex/Runescape.

Industry tries different approaches

Had to step out for a while. Back now and the Industry Panel is running.

Joseph Alhadef, Oracle. Technology has a tendency to get used in truly unforeseen ways. Our youngest users are the most creative users, not just at finding new ways to use existing technologies, but figuring out ways to work around the rules and walls we put up.

Robin Raskin, writer and expert on security - Pushing back on Joseph's point about unanticipated uses of tech. GPS enables cellphones. We CAN anticipate that this will be misused.

Teen Angel - no one reads the privacy policy or terms of service. We need information presented in ways we consume it - video, animation. We *want* to be part of the conversation. (Man, these kids are really articulate.)

Richard Murray - Jagex/Runescape. These are not US problems only. UK trying as well. We're redfining our tutorial. The first experience will now take 20 minutes instead of 10 in order to help people better understand how to stay safe.

Chris Kelly - Facebook. It's critical to explain how a site works in real time and real language rather than legalese. We've got a 200-word intro now to our policy, for example. We're producing a video.

David Fares - Newscorp/Facebook. We can't force people to read things but we can make it digestible. We pop up information when a user is under 18. We encourage parents to talk with their kids via a PSA campaign we're running, not just on FB but by leveraging our other platforms like television.

Holly Hawkins - AOL. We just acquired Bebo and they do a series of short videos about online safety. They work. They actually generate new discussion between parents and kids. Kids want to be included.

Art from Wired Safety. The future of learning is gaming and simulation. Why can't we create this kind of material? We know there's no money here... but if we all get together...

Geoff Cook - myYearbook.com. We try to make the safety stuff more approachable. You can earn 1000 "food" by viewing the material. But still some people wouldn't click. So now we've got a series of simple, bolded safety statements that people must click on to proceed.

Hilary DeCesare - GirlAmbition. Kids learn in lots of different ways. So we're offering certifications that pop up over the course of the year.

Parry - Can we all get behind a Cyber Security/Cyber Bullying day?

Yes, say the panelists.

On the ground survey results

Parry's TEEN Angels conducted a pretty big survey of their peers (520 kids Grade 7-12)

  • 44% of teens polled admitted to being cyberbullied
  • Only 20% of those (8%) would ever tell anyone
  • 85% of students in middle school polled said they'd been cyberbullied in the last year
  • 70% of teens polled admitted to cyberbullying others
  • 66% of girls shared their passwords with friends

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Cyberbullying

"If you'd asked me 18 years ago, when I became Attorney General, 'Are you worried about cyberbullying?' I would have said 'What is the Internet? What does cyber mean?'" That's how much our world has changed.

A few years ago, he started negotiating agreements with MySpace and then Facebook to work against predators. It's working somewhat. Blocking suspicious links, removing inappropriate content, checking e-mail registrations, empowering parents.

He mentions the holy grail for this issue - authenticating identity. He and Parry serve on a task force to try to develop frameworks - legal and technical - to make this happen.

How to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the danger that anonymity on the Internet allows.

National crime prevention council - 30-40% of kids are touched by cyberbullying.

Final thought - parents are the first line of defense. 80-90% of kids say there are no rules, or they know how to get around the rules about home use of the Internet.

"Cyberbullying will remain a threat as long as we allow it to be. "

Verizon platinum sponsor

Michael from Verizon speaking as a parent. Noting that while online child predators are a very serious concern, cyber bullying is truly pervasive and affects many many more kids and parents.