Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 06/24/2010

Girl Scout and Dr. Phil to Testify at Congressional Hearing on Cyberbullying

Go Dominique and the Girl Scouts of America!

Go Dominique and the Girl Scouts of America!

The advent of new media in recent years has been both a blessing and a curse to the youth of the world. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, we can hop on the computer and have a conversation with somebody half way around the world in thirty seconds or less – or more commonly, we can learn that the girl that sits behind us in History who always wears black and scowls actually has an intense love for narwhals and unicrons, by clicking on her photo album “I Love Narwhals and Unicorns.” We’re able to  instantly connect to others in a way no other generation has previously experienced, but we’re also exposed to the darker side of rapid, often anonymous, communication. Cyberbullying, defined as when someone is “tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another…using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones” is becoming a serious problem for teen internet users.

In recognition of this crisis, the Girl Scouts of America are taking action. Girl Scout Dominique Napolitano of West Islip, New York, along with talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, will testify before Congress about cyberbullying today (Thursday, June 24th). Dominique will focus on the challenges she and her peers face online and the crippling effects of electronic bullying.

“It is very important for teens to promote online safety, because many teenagers fall victim to cyberbullying,” Dominique stated. Hearing online safety tips from adults can be boring. Teens may feel like adults don’t understand and aren’t on the same level as them. But when the advice comes from another teen they might feel like the other person knows what they are going through. I am inspired to advocate for teen safety because I want to help save teens from feeling hurt or guilty.”

Dr. Phil - an apparent cyberbullying activist (?)

Dr. Phil - an apparent cyberbullying activist (?)

Dominique is not the only Girl Scout devoted to spreading awareness. She was one of a group of Girl Scouts who worked to create an online safety website – LMK designed to inform teens about cyberbullying, online sexual predators, cybersecurity and other internet related problems. A unique aspect of this online guide is that teens themselves largely contribute the information outlined on the site, and aim to raise awareness among their peers.

And, honestly, teens need to hear this information. Our parents were so worried about violent video games desenitizing us to violence, but in reality the sheer anonymity the internet allows us is having the same effect. Sure, shooting people for hours on end (even if it is virtual) is probably not doing great things for us, but at the same time, weilding the power to say whatever you want to whoever you want without ever having to look them in the face is its own issue. Staring at a screen and merely typing words just doesn’t force us to face the consequences of our words the same way the real world does. I learned that lesson – to a much lesser degree – on this blog. Typing your thoughts into a wordpress box seems like a private experience…until you realize thousands of people are reading what your saying and they all have their own lives and perspectives as well. I’m sure typing hateful comments into an IM screen is similar; it just doesn’t seem as real when you can torment someone then log off and go downstairs to eat dinner with your family.  

Not that that is any kind of excuse. In the face of recent cyberbullying tragedies – such as the suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince from Massachusetts, who killed herself last January after being relentlessly harassed in school and through text and Facebook messages – it’s good to hear that other teens and the government are finally beginning not only to take this tragic phenomenon seriously, but are taking action.


*also (partially) posted at the NCRW’s REAL Deal Blog where I will be guest blogging this summer!

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  • Eli @ at 8:10 pm, October 21st, 2010

    Cyber-lynching is a form of Cyber-bullying

    Dear Neighbors and Advocates,


    President Obama has helped America in every way except one. He fails to openly acknowledge that some systemic failures and injustices even exist. In retrospect, that is what I had “HOPED” that President Obama would do. I am greatly disappointed. No single person can solve all of our problems, but at least acknowledge that it even exists. In 2010, there still exist governments and groups that will not acknowledge that the neither Holocaust nor Slavery ever existed. In 2010, we still have a President that does not even acknowledge that some systemic failures and injustices even exist. This should not be happening in America.

    It appears that slated Maryland politicians; Raskin, Hixson, Hucker, and Mizeur believe that Cyber-lynching is amusement and games until someone loses a life. Cyberbullying is an awful tool used for modern-day lynching. Less than a century ago, heartless people were amused by the public lynching of innocent people. In 2010, there remain heartless people who are amused by the cyber-lynching of an innocent person. The slated politicians’ lack of response to this instance of cyber-lynching and injustice is downright inhumane. To relish the apparent miscarriage of justice, impoverishment, and hardship of another person, under any circumstance, is sadistic and callous. No wonder our country is spiraling into an uncivil and immoral abyss. Professional politicians and political insiders have enabled Bullying, Victimization, False Allegations, Irresponsible Journalism, Slander and Hearsay, Cyber-lynching, Workplace bullying, Defamation of Character to become a recreational sport…when and where does it stop!? IE: No person can walk into a crowded theater and scream fire. The Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled that local communities should establish the parameters of free speech. Tell the Delegates to do their jobs.

    The above blog contains evidence of falseness that just does not add up or makes common-sense. Although it is rarely covered by the media, Cyberbullying has lead to loss of employment, embarrassment, suicides, and destroys lives. I have lost perspective girlfriends and many job offers due to this one cyberbully.

    Cyberbullying is immoral and violates an individual’s innate right to respect and ethical treatment. Upon a simple Google search of my name, this cyberbullying blog has been accessed not only in Maryland, but throughout the country. Not only did I not win the election, but due to this blog and modern-day injustice, I have lost the rapport of my neighbors, perspective employers, community leaders, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, fraternity brothers, Masonic brothers, and even my ex-girlfriends. No minister, priest, or clergy leader could ever imagine nor subdue the pain that I was forced to endure in order to explain this injustice to my young 14 year-old daughter after the opposition allowed this to remain on the internet. No parent should experience that.

    Professional politicians shelter cyberbullies by refraining from enacting effective laws that would prohibit and punish similar forms of cyberbullying. The blatant injustice and Adam Pagnucco’s cyberbullying has ruined my life. If I run away from this cyberbully by leaving Maryland, I may never find employment in any other state. Slated politicians; Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegates Sheila Hixson, Tom Hucker and Heather Mizeur did absolutely nothing to condemn this cyberbully and injustice. Their actions reflect that they are totally content, relish, and are amused by the demise of my family or with an impressionable and vulnerable child’s father becoming another negative statistic. If your home is burglarized, you shouldn’t be treated as just another negative statistic. If a family loses a mother due to crime, the politicians shouldn’t treat the loss simply as another negative statistic…Then those same exact politicians have the audacity to walk door-to-door ONLY during election season stating that they are doing a “good job” for you. That is why political insiders make unearned financial windfalls, folks are losing their homes right-and-left, traditionally safe neighborhoods are overwhelmed with crime, and America’s moral fabric continues to erode. Slated Delegates; please stop lobbying and/or catering to political insiders who line your pockets. In the best interest of The People, it is vital that you thoroughly examine your moral compasses, because something is obviously off point. Some voters don’t care and that scares me to know the direction that some cold-natured people are taking us.

    As a single father of a teenage girl, I have to provide her food, shelter, and education. Why do voters continue to elect corrupted and corruptible individuals into office rather than those who stand for principles of democracy and social and economic justice? These politicians allow the lives of good citizens to be ruined or even lost simply for elected representatives to maintain power and advantage. Now that the election over, I need money just to provide us food from meal to meal. Now, where are these politicians that claim that they care about us? The reason why jails are overcrowded is because politicians, like the one’s mentioned above, continue to ignore the plight of the marginalized in order to remain politically correct. People often end up in prison due to the fact that they have lost opportunity and hope. I have done nothing to warrant this treatment. I deserve my life back!
    Call these “slated” politicians:
    Raskin, Jamie – Senator
    Phone: 301-858-3634 / 410-841-3634
    Hixson, Sheila Ellis – Delegate
    Phone: 301-858-3469 / 410-841-3469 / 301-384-4739 (district)
    Hucker, Tom – Delegate
    Phone: 301-858-3474 / 410-841-3474
    Mizeur, Heather R. – Delegate
    Phone: 301-270-0064

    …and ask them; “Would you please stop doing what is only politically acceptable by your mainstream constituents and do what’s simply right.”

    William Blackstone, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, in the mid- 1700’s, wrote his “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, which were widely circulated on this side of the Atlantic, and informed the organic law of the United States.

    Blackstone wrote about the freedom of speech and of the press thusly: Free speech means the absence of prior restraint. A Briton’s right of free speech, was a right to open one’s mouth and speak, without first asking an official of the Crown for permission to speak.

    That is the entire extent of the right of free speech.

    Once words have exited the mouth and fallen upon the ears of an audience, the consequences of those words are in no way protected by free speech. An insult is an insult. A lie is a lie. A fraudulent inducement is a fraudulent inducement. Any wrong, committed by uttering words, is actionable in court, once the words were uttered.

    Best Regards,
    Elihu Eli El, Former Candidate for Maryland Delegate

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