New warning over cyber bullying | 9news.com

New warning over cyber bullying | 9news.com.

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DENVER – Ashley Berry is 14. Bullies were relentless toward her. She goes to schools all over Colorado to share her story. It is a story about pain, depression, and wanting to give up. It is also a story about overcoming and making a difference for other kids.

“I tell kids not to let the bully define them,” Ashley said. “Let them inspire you to go out and make a difference.”

Ashley says bullies are everywhere.

“The problem is you don’t know who they are or why they don’t like you,” she said.

She is talking about online sites that more and more young people are hiding behind to spread mean messages that police say go beyond teasing and taunting. It is harassment, and it can be criminal.

Susan Payne worked in law enforcement for 25 years. She is also the founding Executive Director of Safe 2 Tell. It is a website and hotline where Colorado students can anonymously report to police what they are seeing and hearing from other kids.

“I’ve seen some unspeakable things,” Payne said.

What concerns her as much now is what she sees young people in Colorado face in schools and online.

“Last month we received more calls than in the entire history of the program,” Payne said.

The number one category of calls in September: Suicidal young people. Number two: Bullying

“All of these things are integrated,” Payne said.

She says she is inspired that students are embracing the message to reach out to Safe 2 Tell so they can help others. It also sheds a light on how big the underlying issue is.

A growing concern for those who work toward safe schools is a social networking site called Ask.fm, an app that can also be downloaded on a phone or tablet.

It is a question answer site that lets users send messages to people without giving a name. That anonymity seems to encourage vulgar and violent content. Many of the conversations 9NEWS found online we could not publish. They are too vile and too violent.

“The transactions are so horrific and so detailed telling someone to cut themselves,” Payne said. “Many tell young people to kill themselves and call them terrible names.”

The site revealed evidence in a recent case in Florida leading to the arrest of 12 and 14 year old girls.

One of the posts read, “Drink bleach and die. Nobody likes you.” The Sheriff says it went on for months on end. The middle school girl who was the target took her own life. She was 12.

“Behind that Florida case, there is probably 100 cases like it,” Payne explained. “I wouldn’t even propose to say we don’t have a case like it in Colorado.”

Jefferson County DA Pete Weir is warning parents about the risk of Ask.fm. Jeffco’s internet investigators say it poses “a significant risk to children.” Weir points out that it has been linked to a number of young people taking their lives.

In a release, the district attorney’s office wrote, “Ask.fm is popular because it’s new on the technology scene and also because it offers an anonymous channel for teens to communicate with friends or strangers without their parents’ knowledge. That very anonymity is dangerous. It allows cyber bullies and sexual predators to pick their victims behind a veil of secrecy.”

In less than five minutes, 9NEWS found a number of posts that were less than 24 hours old posted on an 8th grader’s page in Arvada. It named a classmate and said she would be better off killing herself.

“It is really scary to go through,” Ashley said.

She said when it is anonymous it is even worse.

“Just knowing someone is out there, wanting to hurt you or wanting you to hurt yourself,” she remarked.

Ashley says it is prevalent. Her mom, Anna says the kids can’t get away from it.

“It’s always there, after school and on the weekends,” Anna said. “It’s on their phones, and it’s on their computers.”

Anna says parents have to step in and help empower their children.

“We can’t put our heads in the sand and think my child is too young to talk about this. If they have an iPod touch or an electronic device, it’s time to have that conversation. If they have online access it is time to have that conversation,” Payne said.

She says the best thing kids can do is to report anything they see that is a concern. They can email, text or call in information. All of the contact information is on the Safe 2 Tell website.

Possible side effects of student-on-student harassment and bullying:

• Lowered academic achievement and aspirations
• Increased anxiety
• Loss of self-esteem and confidence
• Depression and post-traumatic stress
• General deterioration in physical health
• Self-harm and suicidal thinking
• Felling of alienation in the school environment
• Absenteeism from school

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

What Does It Mean to be a Woman? | Alternet

What Does It Mean to be a Woman? | Alternet.

‘Being a woman is always defined in opposition to a man … and so being a woman becomes living up to other people’s expectations.’

October 16, 2013 |

The following is an excerpt from Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusiveby Julia Serano. Reprinted with permission of Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2013.

A friend of mine was asked to write about being a femme for a queer women’s event. She wasn’t quite sure where to begin. “It’s hard to write about being a girl,” she said, and I knew exactly what she meant.

For some time, I’ve been trying to write my own poem about what it means to be a woman. But every time I pick up my pen, I’m afraid that I’ll paint myself into a corner, betrayed by words forged from soft vowel sounds and weak, diminutive connotations. Words so delicate that they crumple under any further introspection. I’m afraid that I may lose a part of myself as I navigate my way through the landmines of other people’s definition and dogma.

Pop-culture tells us that a real woman knows how to use her body to get what she wants, wielding the power of attraction, seducing with her animal magnetism. But I ask how much power is there in being a carrot on a stick that is dangled in front of someone? And I can’t help but notice that when men try to flatter us, they often use words like “enchanting” and “mysterious.” But to me, those words seem like a subconscious attempt by them to place some distance between us.

So it bothers me when I hear women buy into a similar mysticism, as they try to empower us by proclaiming that we are magical, that we are mother earth with the ability to give birth, bearing life cycles that follow the moon like the tides of the ocean. But don’t they see the danger in buying into the idea that we are supernatural beings? For if we call ourselves “goddesses,” then there is no need for anyone to treat us like human beings.

I believe that this is where second wave feminism came to a grinding halt: When we got caught up in the myth that women are special because of our biology. Because when we take pride in how fundamentally different we are from men, we unknowingly engage in a dangerous game of opposites. For if men are big, then women must be small. And if men are strong, then women must be soft. And it becomes impossible to write a loud and proud poem about what it means to be a woman without either ridiculing men or else pulling the rug out from under ourselves.

And being a woman is contradiction enough without being both a transsexual and a dyke like myself. I often feel like the monkey in the middle: on one side of me are older lesbians who insist that I am still a man, as if being born male was some awful disease that has infected my blood and my bones permanently. On the other side of me are younger dykes who are infatuated with trans men, yet secretly confess to friends that they are disturbed by trans women because we act so “effeminate.” I wonder how they can be so oblivious to their own arrogance, for anyone who admires trans men, but dismisses trans women is simply practicing another form of sexism.

I used to think it was a contradiction that some dykes abhorred me for my masculinity while others hated me for my femininity, until I realized that being a woman means that everyone has a stake in seeing what they want to see in me.

My friend said, “It’s hard to write about being a girl.” I believe that’s because the word “girl” doesn’t really have a meaning of it’s own, as it is always defined in opposition to boy. So when being butch is to make yourself rock solid, then being femme becomes allowing yourself to be malleable. And if being a man means taking control of your own situation, then being a woman becomes living up to other people’s expectations.

Well I refuse to believe in this myth of opposites. If we want to shatter the glass ceiling, we must first learn to move beyond biology and give ourselves permission to become anything we want to be. I say to set any standard that all women must meet is to commit an act of misogyny.

I refuse to believe in the myth that all women share a common bond. The truth is we are all very different from one another. We each live with a different set of privileges and life experiences. And once we acknowledge this fact, it will become obvious that when we try to place all women into the same box, we unintentionally suffocate ourselves.

Instead of pretending that all women share the same experience, that we are one in the same, let’s make the word “woman” a perpetual agent of change. Instead of repeating history by chaining ourselves to one specific definition or concept, let’s make the word “woman” a celebration of each of our uniqueness.

Julia Serano is a writer, trans activist, and author of Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements (Seal Press, 2013) and Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (Seal Press, 2007). More information about all of her creative endeavors can be found at her Web site: www.juliaserano.com.