Here is an article by Crime Watch partner Kelly Starling of AT&A as a follow up on a recent column on cyberbullying:
It’s often easy to hide behind a quick text, snap, post or tweet — but the lasting effects can be devastating on teens and their families. AT&T is launching a first-of-its kind effort to help students, parents and educators tackle the cyberbullying crisis.
AT&T is unveiling an original film, “There’s a Soul Behind That Screen,” which compiles award-winning shorts made by high school students who participated in the 2016 All American High School Film Festival Cyberbullying Invitational based on their own cyberbullying experiences. To watch the film, visit https://youtu.be/U7OglI5K6oA.
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Common Sense Media and the Tyler Clementi Foundation worked with AT&T to provide parents and educators with the tools necessary to address this issue. A written guide provides parents with tools to identify signs of bullying and provide them with clear actions to protect their kids will accompany the new film.
A poll from AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation taken in New York City last year found that while nearly 50 percent of teens have experienced cyberbullying, the parents are largely unaware of what’s happening under their own roof. Only one in three teens told their parents that they were being bullied, underscoring a clear disconnect between teens and parents. This new campaign aims to close this gap.
Parents, educators, community leaders and students can download materials — including the film — at soulbehindthatscreen.org.
In addition to watching and discussing the new anti-cyberbullying film, AT&T offers these tips to help parents protect their children from cyberbullying and create awareness around the problem:
▪ Take advantage of parental controls. Ask your provider about parental controls available to you. For example, AT&T has Smart Limits which allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers and restrict texting and data usage during specified times of the day.
▪ Be aware of what your kids are doing online and establish rules.
▪ Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.
▪ Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities.
▪ Tell your kids that as a responsible parent, you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.
▪ Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
▪ Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites, or ask another trusted adult to do so.
▪ Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied.
▪ Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others.
AT&T is also empowering teens to rise above online negativity and abuse through its social-first campaign, Later Haters. Influencers that teens love and trust will drive the movement on their social platforms – Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. AT&T hopes to encourage young people to use their mobile devices as a force for good.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.