MySpace. A place for friends. Where you can plot to kill them.

my_space_for_murder.jpg     Something is really rotten in South Jersey.

"A 15-year-old high school student was charged with harassment after she allegedly posted a 'hit list' on a Web site, authorities said."

We recently had a program for the parents of middle school students in our district, sponsored by our PTA, because it was becoming increasingly obvious that our kids are much more cyber-savvy than their parents.  Additionally, we have had a number of incidents – mostly involving girls – which centered on the use of computers and technology such as MySpace and Instant Messaging to harass, threaten, and generally make life miserable for targeted students.  The kids also use MySpace as a resource to troll for "friends," usually older teenagers (mostly males) looking for sex.

It is absolutely amazing what parents do not know, and what they do not  – and will not – do to stop this from happening.

Too many parents seem to think that their offspring have an unfettered and absolute right to privacy, even when their children are using cyberspace to advertise their personal wares and threaten violence against others.  Too many kids have computers and internet access in their bedrooms, so they can literally stay up all night (or more likely, stay online all afternoon after school, when parents aren't home) to do their dirty work.  Parents don't even know about MySpace, have no clue how to access or navigate it, and far more don't know their kids' screen names or passwords.  So the kids can do what they want, when they want, and Mommy and Daddy are totally and udderly clueless.  Or they choose to be that way, because it's easier.

Meanwhile, other kids are bullied mercilessly, others are at risk for being victimized by violence, and still others place themselves at the mercy of sexual predators.

I'm not some right-winger (obviously) calling for censorship of MySpace.  I am for protecting kids, mine and yours.  My teenagers don't have unlimited internet access.  The computer my 13 year old uses is in a common area, not in his room.  He has his own secure desktop, which does not allow him access to certain programs without permission.  We actually USE the "parental contol" settings on our firewall/anti-virus software.  MySpace is blocked. 

Instant Messager is NOT on our computer.  Period.  It serves no useful purpose.  Using it is a waste of a kid's time.

Parents, teachers, and school administrators all need to wake up to the reality of what kids are doing online.  They need to be educated, so that they can educate – and  protect – everybody's kids.


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