Recently, two Swedish teenage girls were found guilty of defamation for posting sexual insults and sexually bullying other teens on the photo-sharing website Instagram. This month, a court convicted the girls, ages 15 and 16, for writing and posting the explicit and derogatory remarks last December.
The two used an anonymous account that they shared and targeted as many as 38 other people, most of which were girls. Before the site was shut down, other teens in their small town of Gothenburg took to the streets in protest. Those protests eventually turned violent. A lawyer in the case said the convictions showed that people who post defamatory comments, believing they are anonymous, can still be vulnerable to prosecution.
As a result parents and educators need to ensure that teens know that just because they set up an anonymous account and are sitting behind a computer where no one can see them, doesn't mean they won't get caught. They also need to stress how spreading rumors and gossiping can hurt other people and how cyberbullying makes people feel.
If your child is dealing with gossip and rumors, check out How to Help Your Child Cope with Gossip for ideas. You also might want to check out 8 Reasons Why Kids Cyberbully Others, 10 Reasons Why Kids Are Bullied and 5 Myths About Victims of Bullying. Understanding why kids engage in cyberbullying and how they select their targets can go a long way in preventing cyberbullying in the future.
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