The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2008, 12:01 a.m.

In the online world, kids are on their own

In the vastness of cyberspace, like in the ocean, there are bottom feeders. Unencumbered by ethics or morality, they're free to prey on the young, eager to exploit their immaturity and unconcerned with the consequences.
A current example is a gossip Web site that has lured plenty of teens -- and problems -- at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. It invites people to anonymously post gossip about anyone, true or not, no matter how hurtful, and to identify the victim. A letter to parents on the Marysville School District's Web site described postings, called "g-strings," as "mean, vicious and hurtful." Two students on the receiving end of such entries are said to be afraid to come to school.
Cyberbullying is a real and growing problem. Like schoolyard bullying, it's often aimed at kids who are considered different or particularly sensitive. The Legislature last year passed a bill requiring school districts to include it in their harassment prevention policies, but given the anonymous nature of such bullying, and the fact that most of it takes place off school grounds, schools have few practical enforcement tools.
This recent example presents a teachable moment, however, that educators, students leaders and parents should seize. For many families, it's a two-way opportunity. Parents may have as much to learn about the various ways their children are communicating these days as they can teach about doing so responsibly.
A gossip site is just one of many places cyberbullying occurs. Personal Web sites, blogs, e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, message boards, text, voice and photo messaging via cell phones -- today's kids use many or all of them, and they all have the potential to hurt.
Teaching young people to use these tools responsibly is part of responsible parenting, and boils down to reinforcing the golden rule: treat others as you'd like to be treated. It also means paying attention to how your child is using cyberspace, bearing in mind that they could be on the giving or receiving end of inappropriate behavior.
Modern communication technology has spawned exciting new possibilities. Its dangers, though, require something as old as civilization itself: good, attentive parenting.

To learn more, visit

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor:

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer:

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor:

Josh O'Connor, Publisher:

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at or 425-339-3472.