Do Now #71: Sexual Cyberbullying: The Modern Day Letter A
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow
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These days, many teenagers live half their lives on social media sites, and they’re writing the rules as they go. One online trend 16-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle finds disturbing is something she calls “slut-shaming,” or using photos and videos to turn a girl’s private life inside out. How often do you see sexually explicit images of your peers in social media news feeds? What do you think when you see images like this? Do you think sexual cyberbullying is a problem?
Temitayo is a youth reporter for Radio Rookies, a New York Public Radio initiative that gives teens the tools and training to tell true stories about issues important to them. She decided to do the story, Sexual Cyberbullying: The Modern Day Letter A, because she noticed that a lot of sexually explicit videos of girls were ending up on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Teenagers often encourage this when it happens by liking, sharing and commenting on the images countless times.
“Slut shaming” isn’t new; it’s been going on for centuries. In her story, Temitayo compares sexual cyberbullying to the book the Scarlett Letter. The main character, Hester Pryne, lives in the 1600s–Puritan times. She cheats on her husband and has to wear a letter A on her chest (A= Adulteress) for the rest of her life.
Similarly, when photos and videos are posted online they can follow you forever. There are countless websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles that are created to shame girls online, many are literally called “exposing hos.” Temitayo tried twice to report a sexually explicit picture she saw of a teenage girl to Facebook, but they didn’t take it down. Do you think Facebook or other social media sites have any responsibility in this?
“Once it gets to a social media network it’s over for her life,” one of Temitayo’s classmates said. She gathered a group of girls from her school to talk about why so many teenagers, especially girls, harass each other online. “Girls do it to themselves,” another girl explained, “half the time we can’t even blame guys.”
But another young woman pointed out that a lot of girls don’t even know they’re being recorded. She said, “It’s not fair that a guy can actually hide his phone, have sex with you and record you, and then show it to his friends, like, ‘Yo, look, look, look!’”
In the age of social media, schools have had to take on a new role. Some students screenshot the cyberbullying they see online, print it out and bring it to their teachers as evidence. Erica Doyle, the Assistant Principal at Temitayo’s school said, “Once we’re dealing with digital media that is sexually explicit that has been captured and shared with the public, that actually now is a criminal matter.”
One of Temitayo’s male friends was arrested in the 8th grade for emailing a picture of his girlfriend without a shirt on to hundreds of students at their middle school. “I regret doing it to her but still, I didn’t have to go to jail. Porn websites do it every day,” he told Temitayo. Do you think teenagers worry they’ll get in trouble when they post sexually explicit pictures and videos?
Temitayo asked him if he did it out of malice, but he brushed the question off and said he just thought it would be cool. “Even the girls gave me props,” he said. “But there was about one-percent of them that thought I did the wrong thing.” Why do you think the boys who put up images like this are often glorified while the girls are ostracized?
Radio Rookies’ story Sexual Cyberbullying: The Modern Day Letter A – Dec. 28, 2012
16-year-old Radio Rookie Temitayo Fagbenle reports on an disturbing online trend — something she calls “slut-shaming,” or using photos and videos to turn a teenage girl’s private life inside out.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with@KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.
Radio Rookies Live Chat: Teen Talk on Sexual Cyberbullying – April 4, 2013
On Thursday, April 4th, Radio Rookies will hold an online live chat with students from classrooms around the country to talk about the cyberbullying issues this story brings to light. Teen hosts Temitayo and Rookie graduate AJ Frazier will facilitate a community conversation focused on what teenagers, educators, parents and social media sites can do to help stop this disturbing trend. If you’re interested in taking part in the in-class live chat RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. In order to take part in the conversation, students will need to have internet access. Rookie Reporters Temitayo and AJ will host the chat with Radio Rookies producers facilitating the discussion and moderating comments (each comment will be read and vetted by an adult producer before it goes live).
Stop Cyberbulling presents Take the quiz: Are you a cyber bully?
Often, people who are victims are also bullies. Take this quiz to find if you, too, are part of the cyberbullying problem.
The New York Times Learning Network post Crossing the Line Online: Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Age of Social Media – Jan. 9, 2013
How widespread are sexual harassment and sexual violence among teenagers today, and what role is social media playing? In this New York Times Learning Network lesson, students take an anonymous survey about their own experiences. They then examine several recent articles, from The New York Times and elsewhere, about sexual harassment and assault in the age of social media.
Common Sense Media presents Gender and Digital Life Toolkit and Cyberbullying Toolkit
These resources aim to help educators take an effective stance against harassment online and help teachers broach sensitive subjects in their classrooms.
Edutopia presents Resources to Fight Bullying and Harassment at School
An educator’s guide to websites, organizations, articles, and other resources for combating bullying.
This post was written by Courtney Stein, Associate Producer for Radio Rookies. Courtney began working with young people in Minneapolis, where she started a youth-run restaurant in the park across the street from her apartment. She moved to New York to study social work but ended up making the jump to radio soon after hearing a Radio Rookies story one day on her Walkman. Courtney trained at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine and interned at StoryCorps and American RadioWorks before joining Radio Rookies as a producer in 2007. Now she assists in teaching radio and multimedia workshops and works alongside Rookie Reporters to produce stories for WNYC.org and WNYC Radio.