First it was predators, then it was cyberbullying, and now it is sexting. The news media is treating us to the fear dujour. They generate reactions that are at best, narrow in focus. It's time to end this kind of narrow focus, take a step back and look at the problem differently.
When you come right down to it, the problems we are seeing stem from kids being kids in an environment that has a lack of adult oversight and guidance. When we do try to provide guidance, they often fail to respond, because they more than know we do, or at least they think they do.
WiredSafety has always know that kids will listen to kids before they will listen to adults and that they will listen to adults if we give them the credit and respect they deserve. That's why long ago, Parry Aftab established Teenangels, groups of teens who are trained by WiredSafety and law enforcement to become experts in cybersafety. We learn from them, they learn from us, and they train others in online citizenship.
The idea of online citizenship is what it is all about. There are many different kinds of online abuse, but pretty much all of them can be prevented if we create good cybercitizens.
MTV, WiredSafety, and others have been working together to empower youth to take positive action, to take ownership for their personal behavior, and be part of the solution rather than the problem. Teens will be working with teens to stay on the right side of that thin line between appropriate and in appropriate behavior at http://www.athinline.org .
Part of that effort is offering teens an opportunity to win $10,000 by coming up with innovative digital ways of stopping online abuse, as well as offering an opportunity to work with MTV and a $75,000 budget to make their idea a reality.
Another part is giving teens a voice and a platform to talk to other teens as done on the site and on Facebook by teens such as Casi. http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=192141552130
Of course, if you are reading this from school you can't visit the Facebook link. So here is the blog entry in two screen shots. Just click on each small image to expand.