Jodi Wing, Author & Education Activist Comments: Cyberbullying: The Burn Book Is Back!
Author Jodi Wing and I go way back. As she launched the book The Art of Social War, we had the BEST interview (*and wound up having more than one). Finding common bonds is not always easy in LA but she and I hit it off and have become friends and I have followed what she was doing with her book and her life reads like a gangbuster novel. That being said, Jodi Wing is about giving back and she had this brilliant idea to take her Art of Social War and turn it into a non-fiction educational “field-guide) for girls and women. This book is tentatively titled “The Art of Peace: Prepare to Triumph & Become Invincible!” This second book focuses on developing the strategic and critical thinking skills needed to overcome Very Bad Behavior and Social Crime AKA “girl on girl” crime.
Moving into action on this philosophy, three years ago Jodi created and piloted ‘The Art of Peace Club,’ within LAUSD/LA’s BEST after-school enrichment program. The mission of the Art of Peace Club is to help girls develop solution-based, winning life strategies for managing social conflict and competition through the prism of “The Art of War”. The results to date have been impressive, and have garnered Jodi and her work the attention of various media outlets, Parents’ Leagues, and the TED Youth committee, where she was honored to speak about The Art of Peace doctrine at their September 2011 conference in Santa Monica. CA.
Here’s one of her latest commentaries and truly it strikes at the heart of every family who has a child- and those who don’t but have children in their lives (teachers, coaches, tutors, extended family). There is swomething you can do.
Oh it’s back, all right. And with a vengeance.
From Colorado Springs to Chesterfield, Virginia to right here in LA— social warfare and bad behavior is as ever on the rise.
With all the brilliance and immediacy and ease of this digital age (there’s an app for that!) there is a tremendous downside, and it’s affecting our children in disturbing ways: brilliant and immediate and clickable options to target and pass along hurt instantly, in a forum created specifically for this purpose.
It’s a phenomenon called The Burn Book. http://www.nbc12.com/story/20489199/parents-raise-concern-over-virtual-burn-book-about-chesterfield-students.
From twitter to facebook to instagram and now to the virtual #burnbook, https://twitter.com/theburnbook what smelled like teen spirit has now permeated the Virtual World—and can be pulled down to one’s classroom or bedroom or backpack in the push of a button, with sinister Gossip-Girl overtones and a dash of Pretty Little Liars thrown in. And it’s hitting kids hard, socially and emotionally. http://www.gazette.com/articles/online-150862-derogatory-students.html
A friend of mine recently asked me to lead what I like to call an ‘Emergency Tea Party’ (a special Art of Peace Club bootcamp session) for her 12-year-old daughter and seven of her 6th-grade friends. It seems there’s a mother-daughter duo wreaking social havoc at their school, and the girls were in an uproar. During our discussion, it came out that there was indeed an online burn book—the bricks-and-mortar drama had escalated digitally, and not only were they duly upset, they suspected that She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Junior, among other favorably-mentioned kids, was behind it.
This particular Burn Forum consisted of anonymous postings; pairing photos of boys and girls as ‘couples,’ which is looked at as either humiliating, by ‘outing’ crushes, or as branding: demeaning or elevating social status depending on the seemingly omnipotent creator’s moods towards the kids targeted. Embarrassing stuff, for sure, at that tender age. But it’s barely one step from truly frightening and scary, as well. I believe it’s a form of emotional terrorism. The anonymity and random timings of attack make it all the worse.
A young girl named Joanna* told me her story: she was at dinner in a restaurant with her family, enjoying her meal and unguarded time off from any middle school-induced social vigilance, when her iPhone buzzed. She by rote reached for the device, only to see a text from a pal, alerting her that she had been just been ‘tagged’…
From nasty comments to actual threats, exposure of ‘secrets’ to using apps like ‘Uglify’ to morph photos (thin to fat, clear-skinned to zits and horns)– in school or out, this menacing behavior exists on a continuum from mild to extreme. It is nonetheless hurtful, isolating, and as pointed as a monogrammed poisoned arrow to the victim’s self-esteem and ability to concentrate.
Upsetting? Absolutely! —but hardly surprising. From the early to mid-2000’s when Perez Hilton first outed celebs and drew penises on faces, writing slag-style against any manner of bold and not-so-bold-faced names, to the plot-prominent burn book featured in Lindsay Lohan’s movie ‘Mean Girls,’ is it any wonder that this popular culture of guerrilla snark has trickled down into the mainstream of daily life?
Schools, parents, police, and courts will need to determine exactly what to do on a case by case basis, as this is still brave new territory to unravel. But it’s out there, trending now, and it’s important to be aware.
Emotional safety is as important as physical safety.
*Not her real name.
Read more: http://www.myfoxla.com/story/
Part of it is parent-based PTA organized meetings aw well as a ban on all such behavior and that all culprits – children and adults who participate or ignore the obvious– should be “outed” and punished. There is no reason in this country or the world to be terrorizing children of any age this way. It’s bad enough that it happens in the adult world. Stalking and terrorism like this is against the law.. and in cyberspace this is NOT new behavior at all. It’s been around since the web was known as WWW AKA Wild Wild Web. I have experienced this personally — and within a collective of a forum and also usenet. The brutality of it all and the fear the perpetrators seem to wish to inculcate is unacceptable. In the first instance , I was among a group of women being attacked. While at that time internet law was not even thought of, I had contacted an attorney on behalf of the group and unfortunately he had taken a case the day before and he would have much rather taken this one because it was a clear case that would set serious legal precedent and spur on the need for laws about what can and can’t be done/said/depicted on the web..
(I finally got to corporation who was the parent corp to the company who owned the forums that were the source of the attacks. I got the other women together to hound
Thanks to Jodi Wing for the commentary!!
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