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The Naivety of a Young Girl on the Internet

Sunday, 27 February 2011 17:30 in Blogs, Features by Faye Shippam

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Last July the story of Jessi ‘Slaughter’ became one of the hottest subjects on social networking and video sharing websites, but for many of the wrong reasons. With Safer Internet Day just recently, this event serves as an excellent example to children (and others!) of how not to behave online. I decided to take a closer look at the Jessi Slaughter incident.

It’s not that easy to get to grips with all the facts around the story which is surrounded by confusion and rumors. For me, that is lesson number one. Things can so easily become distorted on the ‘net’ especially when many people get involved giving their own views and comments. What is clear though is that letting a child loose on the Internet can lead to all sorts of dangers as this 11-year-old girl found out. The Internet can make you famous but it can also make you a victim. It can ruin not only your life but of those around you, your family and your friends.

So how did it all start? Jessica posed as a 16-year-old, Kerligirl13, with a promiscuous sex life on a live blogging site called Stickam (although they have a minimum age of 14). Jessi made all sorts of claims by posting videos and posts online, boasting about her life, her boyfriends and her piercings. She started to develop ‘haters’ who posted their own things about her including videos that were uploaded to YouTube, Tumblr and Facebook. Everyone seemed to have something to say to Jessica, whether it was “learn your lesson” or poking fun; many wanted to have a piece of the action.

All of this escalated further with claims that Jessica had slept with a well-known musician. Not surprisingly this musician didn’t take too kindly to these rumors, as he became the subject of an investigation in the U.S. Provocative photos that Jessica had posted grabbed the attention of a well-known message boarding website. Some of its members allegedly hacked Jessica’s passwords and used her personal information to get pizzas delivered to her home and to make prank phone calls to her parents. In the meantime, Jessica’s father reacted to these events by ranting online which made him the subject of ridicule. He unknowingly created his own internet meme which has since been used all over the internet, appearing on T-shirts, posters, mangas, lolcat cartoons and is now in use as an ‘urban’ phrase.

Concerns about Jessica’s mental health led to the police becoming involved who took her into protective custody. However, seeming not to have learned, Jessica was soon back posting more videos.

In this extreme case of internet bullying, arguably containing aspects of child sexual abuse, many of the culprits will never be caught or punished. So what can be learned from this example?

  • It shows how rumors and cyber bullying can easily spiral out of control and affect not just the victim, but the accused as well.
  • It shows that even if you aren’t caught, you have to live with the consequences of your actions.
  • It is very difficult to remove things posted on the Internet, they can come back to haunt you years down the line.
  • Employers, universities and colleges have been known to research online activities of potential employees/students.
  • Parents need to supervise underage children.
  • Children need lessons in internet safety.
  • If you post a video you will not be ‘anonymous’, someone will recognize you!

There are many places to turn to if you are a victim of cyberbullying. Here is just a selection:

USA
UK

Welcome to our feature: "A Teen Talks Cyber Security".

Faye Shippam

We are pleased to welcome a new guest blogger, Faye Shippam. As a victim of cyberbullying Faye has turned her attention to helping others in a similar position and will be posting her views as well as providing help and advice on the subject of cyber security.

Faye is a student, edits her college magazine and wants to spread the message about staying safe online further afield. She is also into marine biology, likes running and is a self-confessed 'utter' animal lover. So enjoy Faye's blogs here...

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