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Online activity can equal criminal behavior

CASTLE ROCK – In this age of technology, it seems like there are newer, faster ways to communicate everyday. Teens are naturally the first to try and master new devices or apps, but because they spend so much time in cyberspace these technological advances are now also a breeding ground for teen-on-teen crime.
Cyberbullying is the use of electronic technology for malicious purposes. The use of text messaging to spread rumors, or email to threaten or embarrass another individual could be considered cyberbullying, as does posting false or hurtful information social networking sites. This information can be in the form of embarrassing comments, pictures and videos. Fake profiles and slanderous websites are also methods used in cyberbullying.
Often, these attacks can be more brutal than traditional bullying, in part because of online anonymity. A personal attack can be anonymously posted quickly to a wide audience, making it difficult to stop. Tracing the source of the information can also be a complicated process.
Victims of cyberbullying are vulnerable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of their physical location. In some cases, the victim is being bullied online and in person.
It is important to note that cell phones and computers themselves are not the culprit. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, including connecting kids with friends and family and helping students with research and academics.
Experts say teens should carefully consider what they are posting online. In addition to avoiding the danger of online sexual predators, a number of Douglas County students have recently found themselves in trouble with police for simply sending or forwarding a photo.
Sexting (sending a nude and/or sexually explicit images) has become a serious problem. Cell phones have made it extremely easy to take and share photos, but most teens do not realize that sending a lewd photo, even of themselves, can be a felony.
“I’ve seen this several times in my career where someone has crossed the line sexually,” Jennifer Walker with the Women's Crisis & Family Outreach Center in Castle Rock said. “Whether it is on a cell phone or in person, teens need to be especially careful about avoiding that line—because there can be devastating consequences.”
Walker added that the courts don’t give a lot of leniency when it comes to sex crimes—regardless of if it’s in cyberspace or the real world.
“When I say crossed the line sexually, maybe they’ve touched a girl’s breast over their clothing in fun or as a dare and suddenly the girl says, ‘I’m reporting this.’ With our laws today, that kid who thought he was just doing a dare, who didn’t intend for all this to happen, is having to register as a sex offender,” she added.
October 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category:

District News

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