Online ‘burn books’ sparking controversy

Online burn books are Twitter accounts where an anonymous person posts multiple insulting Tweets.

You have a big nose. Your butt is huge. You’re ugly. You smell.

These insults—and much worse—are popping up on the internet in “burn book” accounts that are specific to area schools and to particular students there. The burn books are creating a stir in local communities across the country.

Inspired by the 2004 Lindsay Lohan movie “Mean Girls,” burn books are Twitter accounts where an anonymous person posts multiple Tweets that insult, taunt, and call out classmates by name on the social media messaging network.…Read More

Feds’ new anti-bullying campaign targets parents

Online and print ads will warn parents that their kids regularly encounter negative messages such as “you’re worthless” and “everybody hates you.”

Parents are urged to teach their kids to speak up if they witness school bullying in new ads that target an issue that top Obama administration officials vow to make a national priority.

A long-term campaign featuring television, print, and online ads was unveiled Aug. 6 and will start running in October. The campaign is a joint effort by the Ad Council, a nonprofit that distributes public service announcements, and the Free to Be Foundation, a group that includes entertainers Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, and Mel Brooks.

In one television ad, two girls are seen bullying a schoolmate, mocking her appearance and telling her that nobody likes her. A fourth girl looks on but doesn’t intervene.…Read More

New site offers a whole new approach to online safety

"We noticed a large gap between the belief about what people are doing online and the research showing that the majority of youth are making good choices," said a FOSI rep.

Child predators, cyber bullying, and untrustworthy teachers are just some of the internet scandals often discussed on the news concerning youth and online safety. And while programs in schools are right in teaching students about the dangers that exist online, a new website aims to promote the benefits of internet use—as well as bridge the generational gap in online use and knowledge between youth and their teachers and parents.

“Research shows that the vast majority of youth are making good choices online,” said Nancy Gifford, special projects coordinator for the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), in an interview with eSchool News. “In fact, the dangers we often hear about on the nightly news, such as sexting, cyber bullying, and predatory behavior, are not engaged in by the majority of kids.”

The site, called A Platform for Good (PfG), will launch in September with a mission to help shift the conversation away from the negative focus that so often appears in the media about youth online experience to a conversation that highlights the positive opportunities the internet has to offer. Through this approach, FOSI aims to bridge the generational digital divide by increasing adult comfort with technology and understanding of the opportunities it offers.…Read More

How to expand students’ ed-tech access—and stay out of court

Cracking down on cyber bullying, searching students’ cell phones, and filtering internet access are some of the areas where educators can get into trouble if they don’t know their proper legal boundaries.

Finding the right balance between keeping students safe and letting them explore their world digitally was the focus of an April 21 session during the National School Boards Association’s 72nd annual conference, in which NSBA senior staff attorney Sonja Trainor gave advice on how school districts can open their doors to technology without getting sued.

Cracking down on cyber bullying or harassment, searching students’ cell phones or laptops, and filtering school internet access are some of the areas where educators can get into trouble if they don’t know their proper legal boundaries, Trainor said. Here’s what she had to say about each of these areas.

Cyber bullying and harassment…Read More