Young People Use Slurs Online, See Them As Jokes

Young people are more likely to use slurs online, and most see discriminatory language as joking, according to an Associated Press-MTV poll of 14- to 24-year-olds conducted nationwide in 2011. Seventy-one percent say they are more likely to use slurs online or in text messages than in person. Also, most young people don’t worry about whether the words they post on their cellphones and laptops could reach a wider audience or get them in trouble, according to the ABC Action News article. “People have that false sense of security that they can say whatever they want online,” Lori Pletka, 22, told the reporters. Although most people see slurs as joking — 57 percent say people are “trying to be funny” — a significant number of youth are getting upset, especially when they are in the group being targeted.

Photo illustration: Clay Duda/JJIE.org

Law Enforcement Learns the ‘Social Media Beat’

It’s no secret: Social media has redefined the way people communicate, especially among the under-30 crowd. Now, law enforcement agencies are catching on and increasingly incorporating social media into their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.

Over the past few months a series of high profile social-media-turned-criminal acts have made headlines — from flash mobs turned violent on the streets of Philadelphia to Atlanta house parties taped off as homicide scenes — and law enforcement has taken note.

Some agencies have been quick to recognize the potential of embracing social media. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has run a “Social Media Monitoring Center” since early 2009; Correction officials in California have worked directly with Facebook to thwart inmates from accessing social profiles while behind bars; And police in New York formed a special unit to monitor social channels for gang-related and other potential criminal acts.

New Jersey Sexting Bill Stresses Education Over Prosecution for Teens

A bill moving through the New Jersey Legislature would force kids caught sending sexually explicit photographs and videos through their cell phone to attend an intense education program rather than face prosecution.  The measure, A-1561, passed the Assembly 78-to-0 in March and now moves to the state Senate for final approval. “Sexting,” as the practice is known popularly, has recently been in the news thanks to U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) who was caught sending lewd photos of himself to female constituents.  As JJIE.org reported recently, Weiner will likely face fewer consequences than many teens found sexting, who may face child pornography charges. “Teens need to understand the ramifications of their actions, but they shouldn’t necessarily be treated as criminals,” Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), a co-sponsor, told NewJerseyNewsroom.com. The education program would teach participants about the possible legal and social consequences of sexting.  Juveniles who successfully complete the education program would not face trial. A second co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland), said the measure would help kids who make a mistake not “pay for it in court.”

 

Peer Pressure Leading Kids to Commit Cyber-bullying and Other Online Crimes

Peer pressure doesn’t end when kids are alone in front of a computer, new research shows, and it’s leading kids to commit cyber-crimes such as cyber-bullying and music piracy. The study, published online in the American Journal of Criminal Justice, found kids in middle and high school whose friends committed cyber-crimes were more likely to engage in the same illegal activities, especially if they also exhibit a lack of self-control. “These are the more risk-taking, impulsive kids; they’re more likely to act on opportunity,” study co-author Thomas Holt, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, told PsychCentral.com.  “It’s important to know what your kids are doing when they’re online and who they are associating with both online and offline.”

Researchers surveyed 435 students in one suburban Kentucky school district.  Cyber-crime also includes activities such as hacking and viewing online pornography (which is illegal if the viewer is under 18).  

 

Teens Face More Consequences from Sexting than Congressmen Do

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner may not have broken any laws by texting lewd photos of himself to younger women he didn’t know. In many states, however, teens who send pictures of themselves to their own girlfriends or boyfriends can be prosecuted for child pornography. Allyson Pereira calls that hypocrisy. She should know. She’s spent six years dealing with the consequences of “sexting” one topless image of herself to an ex-boyfriend.