In The News: Nation’s CyberTipline Reports Nearly Double in 2010 Over 2009

CyberTipline is operated by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in partnership with the FBI and several other US government agencies. The CyberTipline was launched in March 1998, as directed by Congress, and is staffed 24×7 to receive calls and online reports of cyber incidents which exploit children sexually.

Yesterday, USA Today reported that CyberTipline “received 223,374 reports in 2010, nearly double the 2009 number.”

Experts quoted in the story blame the increase on climbing social media usage, mobile smartphones, and new types of social media services – like location-pegging from Foursquare and Gowalla.

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In The News: Online Teens Have A New Way to Connect, Mentor Bullied Peers

Beyond Bullies, an “online program… dedicated to helping teens who are the targets of bullying and cyberbullying,” today announced the availability of its new web site and teen mentoring service. Through its web site and service, Beyond Bullies provides real-time access to online peer mentors. In short, teens helping teens.

The Beyond Bullies site emphasizes privacy, pointing out that teens often are reluctant and even afraid to report bullying to their parents or teachers. “Hold onto your cell  phone and online privileges” the site advises visiting teens.

Teen “e-mentors”, as the site calls them, must be in high school (10-12th) with two personal references. The site’s e-mentor FAQ also states that students must be “in the greater Los Angeles area.” Applying teens must submit to a personal interview and obtain permission from a parent. The application form is available at the site, and includes questions like “Have you been bullied online or offline before?”

e-Mentor training covers “what bullying is and how to prevent it.” Those whom pass training will be available to their peers, via IM, site discussion boards and email. Communication is done through the site, to keep it secure and private; last names are not shared nor personal contact information.

Looking for some other ways to get involved? The site encourages teens to share their bullying experiences, help fundraise, help plan and organize events, and volunteer in Beyond Bullying offices and chapters.

Our “Take” At OSS

The concept of getting teens involved to help other teens and younger children is great in concept. However, it could prove difficult to execute. It depends on outstanding training, expert support for the e-mentors, and enthusiastic teen involvement – of which the last may be the easiest to obtain. The Beyond Bullying team may have done better to pilot this program for a while in LA, before announcing it more broadly.

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In The News: UK Police Enlist Teens to Help Find, Discourage Cyberbullies

As reported today in Wired.co.uk, Thames Valley Police have realized that they need teen help to keep up with cyberbullies. Using teen volunteers, the police have initiated a new program designed to track and shut down cyberbully attacks – before they do real damage.

Teens will use Facebook and other online tools, to “scour the social network” and investigate cyberbully incidents reported by teachers and parents. Facebook will be used to warn attackers, to hopefully “nip the problem in the bud.”

The goal of the program? To “keep young people out of the criminal justice system if possible.” The program will run from today through May.

In Reading alone, the police report 60 Facebook-related crimes recorded in the last quarter.

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