Group Looks to 'Cyberarmy' to Stop Violent Videos

'We Can't Afford to Be Naive'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call such attacks "electronic aggression." And with the CDC estimating that 80 percent of kids own a "new media technology" device such as a laptop or cell phone, it is easier than ever for these attacks to occur.

"The recent explosion in technology does not come without possible risks," said Corrine David-Ferdon and Marci Feldman-Hertz, co-authors of a recent CDC report in the Journal of Adolescent Health. "Youth can use electronic media to embarrass, harass or threaten their peers. Increasing numbers of adolescents are becoming victims of this new form of violence."

"We can't afford to be naive or ignore the risks that also emerge," said David-Ferdon and Feldman-Hertz.

The report states that "from 2000 to 2005, there was a 50 percent increase in the percentage of youth who were victims of online harassment."

According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project report from June 2007, one in three teens who spend time online have experienced online harassment, but now, according to Don Cantrell, director of internal technology at the South Carolina State Department of Education, cyberbullying is morphing into online fight videos such as the Florida attack.

"That line is becoming blurred," said Cantrell. "What used to feel satisfying with just cyberbullying is now being pushed further to include physical bullying. Now our young people have the ability and the wherewithal to videotape physical actions and post it online."

Cantrell, who travels around the Palmetto State giving seminars and lectures to increase awareness about this problem, compares the current situation to "lawlessness like the Wild West."

"These kids have got blinders on. They don't realize who's looking at this information," said Cantrell. "They know the tools. They just don't understand the ramifications of how to use the tools."

'These Sites Should Be Eliminated'

Students, of course, have taken notice as well. Jonai Lloyd, a 16-year old at Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C., knows classmates who have posted fight videos online.

"When you have fights at school, you'll see kids with cameras videotaping them and putting them on MySpace and YouTube and things like that. If there's a fight, they'll look for a camera."

"I don't see how these kids can do this to other people," said Lloyd. "Sometimes I think that these sites should be eliminated."

"I think it's more sad than anything because kids do this stuff for attention," she said. "It makes no sense."

"This is a different degree of bullying. I never witnessed anything like this," added Patricia Barker, a 22-year-old senior at Wisconsin's Ripon College. "The fight videos are really disgusting."

"It's growing at a horrifying rate and I don't know when we're going to stop it, when our society is going to be less obsessed with looking at these things online, and when people are actually going to grow up and realize that things like this aren't right and we can't just stand there and let it happen."

Shawn Karsten, Barker's classmate and a 22-year-old junior, does not think that such a change will happen anytime soon.

"I don't think there is much hope for solving this," said Karsten. "A lot of it comes down to the parents to monitor, but there's only so much that the parents can do and see, so it really comes down to the responsibility of the students to not put themselves in these situations."

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