Author, Portland teens lead discussion on cyberbullying

Maine writer Kay Stephens, co-author of Cyberslammed, is scheduled to head a discussion Wednesday night on the topic of bullying and cyberbullying at the Portland Police Department. Also participating will be 13 area youths between the ages of 13 and 15, who will be able to give the best perspective of all when it comes to this very hot current issue.

Greely High School graduate and rising country singer Shannon Selig has made anti-bullying her primary cause, and the family of Thorndike teen Kitty McGuire has called her recent suicide a response to bullying at school.

Late this past winter, a former Orono High School student pleaded guilty to felony terrorizing and misdemeanor terrorizing for sending threatening, anonymous messages to a classmate she believed was flirting with her boyfriend. Those messages, which on at least one occasion was violent and specific enough to force the victim and her family to evacuate their home, were called by a police investigator the most “disgusting and vulgar” he’d ever seen.

Stephens, who is working on a series of novels centered around the subject of school bullying, paired with Vinitha Nair on what would become an educator workbook and digital strategy to help teachers and other adult mentors battle back against bullying.

Here’s a little more on her Wednesday night discussion, as provided in an announcement today by the city, including some of the chilling tactics youths are now using to tear down their peers:

The youth are participants in SEALSfit, a seven-week leadership and anti-bullying program sponsored by the Police Department and the Maine Leadership Institute. The program is led by a retired Navy SEAL with mentors from local, county, and state law enforcementagencies. Participants learn communication skills, team building and life-skills, while improving their self-image and self-confidence by way of physical training.

Cyberslammed: Understand, Prevent, Combat, And Transform The Most Common Cyberbullying Tactics is a workbook featuring tactical advice to help parents, educators and students in 5th-12th grade address cyberbullying by quickly analyzing the underlying conflict and working towards a solution with the least harm done. The book tackles six forms of cyberbullying through modern digital technologies and social media including a Digital Pile On (ganging up on someone on chat forums or Instant Messaging), rating website (using Internet polls to get bystanders to vote for their “ugliest,” “fattest,” “dumbest” peers), imposter profile (creating a website or social networking profile to deceive others to assume it is genuinely owned and maintained by the target), Haters’ Club (spreading mob mentality on websites or social networking sites to persecute an individual), sexting (taking or sending an explicit photo of oneself and forwarding it to friends or potential partners), videojacking (videotaping a target without his or her knowledge/approval and uploading the video to a popular video-sharing website).

The event will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Portland Police Department at 109 Middle St.

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Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.