Good Morning America showed a video of cheerleaders who beat up another girl until she was unconscious. They did all of this while in someone's home with an adult there. When they were arrested and being booked, the girls were joking and asking if they were going to have to miss cheerleading practice the next day. While I haven't seen many interviews with the parents, I am willing to bet that these girls are banking on their parents bailing them out and getting them off on these charges. That is probably what they have done for them most of their lives. One of the girls said in a text message that her Mom would beat her up too if they had anything to say. This girl and her Mom both have (or had) their own MySpace pages with very racy photos. They were taken down this morning. I'm not sure if it was at the advice of their attorney or because of all the ugly posts that they had been receiving.
Another video has surfaced of students who beat up their teacher in a classroom. The video was taken with a cell phone.
Just today I saw a news report of a 10 year old who was beaten up and her hip broken when she asked two girls not to splash her sister with water. She now faces a possible hip replacement because she was so badly hurt.
Mean girls and bullies aren't new. I remember them from when I was in school (Yes, I can remember that far back.) All those mean girls and bullies that we dealt with in school? They grew up. They are having children. I have a few in my life that I would put in the "mean girl" category. She gives me a compliment but it really sounds like an insult. Most of us don't have to think back to high school to remember gossip, cutthroat competition and insults because we have dealt with that in the past month.
I think that having the Internet where you can post your video adds a whole new dimension to the bullying. Instead of "My Dad is Bigger Than Your Dad" the kids have a "My Video Is Tougher Than Your Video" mentality.
There is a great website called WiredSafety which helps educate parents on how to keep your kids safe on Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, and other networking sites.
I am a huge believer in monitoring software for every computer in your home. There are stories on the news every day that back up my belief. Just last week I learned about juicycampus.com which is a website designed specifically for gossip and spreading rumors about others. Remember slam books in high school? This is the internet version taken to a whole new ugly level.
The internet is causing problems for our kids, but an even bigger problem are parents who are so busy trying to be their kids "friends" that they forget to be a parent and set boundaries.