Local authors produce cyberbullying guide

Sep 19, 2012
Vinitha Nair, left, and Kay Stephens

With the help of Time Warner Cable, two Midcoast authors have published a new cyberbullying guide for parents and educators. The book’s launch coincides with the start of the new school year and a new Maine law requiring schools to implement policies to address cyberbullying.

“Cyberslammed™: Understand, Prevent, Combat And Transform The Most Common Cyberbullying Tactics” (sMashup Press, 2012) compiles advice from educators, parents, cyberbullying experts, law enforcement, attorneys and even a martial arts expert into one comprehensive guide that can be used in classrooms as a teaching tool as well as at home as a resource.

Authors Kay Stephens and Vinitha Nair spent five years researching the most common cyberbullying tactics teens use against one another. Having run workshops on cyberbullying and Internet safety since the early 2000s when they both worked for Zoey’s Room, Maine’s first science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) online community for ‘tween girls, Stephens and Nair saw firsthand how the origins of cyberbullying started.

“Like a lot of adults, we could see what was happening as the result of cyberbullying, but we had no terms to define what it was or how it started,” said Stephens.

To fight something like cyberbullying, one must pinpoint certain behaviors behind the technology before developing effective strategies to combat it. That is what has been missing from so many online resources and curricula,” she said.

“Cyberslammed™” takes a sharply focused look at six of the most common types of digital harassment through the use of the Internet, cell phones and video cameras. Many people have already heard of Sexting, which is one of the tactics in the book. Other tactics include a Digital Pile On (ganging up on someone on chat forums or instant messaging); Videojacking (videotaping a target without his or her knowledge or approval and uploading it to a video-sharing site); and Haters’ Club (spreading mob mentality on websites or social networking sites to persecute an individual).

The book has received endorsements from national experts in bullying/cyberbullying including Anne Collier, editor of Net Family News.org; and Jamie Nabozny, subject of the documentary “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History.”

Time Warner Cable supported the workbook as part of the company’s Connect a Million Minds philanthropic initiative to improve opportunities for youth in STEM. Time Warner Cable is Maine’s largest provider of cable TV, broadband and digital phone services. More information is available at connectamillionminds.com.

To help parents and teachers identify and combat cyberbullying, Stephens plans to deliver presentations to schools and libraries all around Maine and beyond in the coming school year. For more information about “Cyberslammed™,” visit cyberslammed.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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