Kids and Gun Education – What is the Right Thing for Parents To Do? Part I

Individuals on the extreme ends of the gun rights / gun safety spectrum are vociferously debating their side this year in the wake of what happened at Newtown, CT, and the whole thing appears to be something that is going to stay with us for a while. As parents of teens and pre-teens (yes, we are), we ask ourselves what is the right course of action when it comes to responsibly educating children and teens about guns, embracing the gun culture or avoiding it entirely.

news12nj-gun-pollNews 12 New Jersey took a kids and firearms poll of its website readers yesterday, and I found one of the aspects of the results to be surprising. The poll was worded so that fit with this week’s New Jersey news cycle. The question is: “Should kids be allowed to handle guns?”

In case you missed it, a South Jersey family was paid a visit by the Carney’s Point Police Department and the NJ Division of Child Services after a photo of their 11 year old son posing with a 22 caliber rifle modified to look like an assault rifle was posted to Facebook.

Police in the Carney’s Point case have since stated that they will not press charges, but the issue has, at least in New Jersey, further polarized both sides in the debate that won’t go away.

What surprised me about the poll was that 25% of respondents were of the opinion that kids should never under any circumstances handle a gun. That is not a judgment, just an observation.

If you are a parent who hasn’t yet begun to discuss guns with your children, or are not sure whether to broach the subject at all, what are the key considerations?  If you are part of a family that is very pro 2nd amendment, you naturally lean one way. If you are ardently anti gun, I can guess how you would have voted in the poll above. We don’t have all the answers, but we are going to attempt to take the temperature of the families in the middle ground.

If you are somewhere in the middle, come back for Part II where we interview two teens with no practical experience with and only limited knowledge of firearms.

Please comment below if you have thoughts or opinions on this issue.

Bullying Laws

Whether your child is being bullied or is accused or suspected of being a bully, it is important for parents to know what the bullying laws are in your state. When the bullying in question is cyber bullying, parents have other considerations to bear in mind.

Government website has a state-by-state listing of the relevant bullying laws and policies. Click through to find the details about your state.

bullying-lawsAs of this writing, only one state, Montana, has a bullying policy but no bullying law. Eight states have a bullying law, but no accompanying policy or implementation guidance for schools. Forty-one states have both an anti bullying law and an accompanying policy

For the most part, bullying laws incorporate harassment, bulling and intimidation behaviors, and the basis of the bullying can range from race and gender to sexual orientation and persons with disabilities. Guidelines vary from state to state.

The main purpose of the laws and guidelines are twofold; to keep children safe and to help schools develop a framework for implementing sound policies in a fair and thoughtful manner.

We encourage parents and students to speak up quickly should a student be involved in a bullying situation, either as the bully or the bullied. School can only act on the information that they possess.

In cases of cyber bullying, parents should keep in mind that even if the bullying has stopped, evidence of the bullying acts might stay on the internet indefinitely. Even after satisfying relevant bullying laws, internet taunts, slurs or threats can be viewed in a very negative light by a college admissions officer or future employer, so parents after taking corrective actions with their child should take steps to remove the negative content from the web.

Parents and school officials can contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe.

What Can Parents of Accused Bullies Do?

One of the many nightmares confronting today’s parents is the possibility of their child being accused of bullying. Real world physical bullying is relatively straightforward, and usually gets reported back to parents via a teacher or the parent of the victim. Parents are then expected to do the right thing – educate their child as to the right way to treat their peers, and then stay on top of the situation.

bullyIn today’s dynamic online world, it is as likely that bullying occurs online as it is offline. Even if bullying is limited to the internet or social media sites, it is real and the penalties can be harsh. In addition, a recent Pew Research survey on Teens and Technology found that teens who are bullied are more likely to become bullies themselves. Corrective action is definitely required.

As a parent of a child accused of cyber bullying, what do you do if you’re not sure whether the allegations are true? Or, if your child was previously accused, how do you know the bullying has stopped?

At ThirdParent, we have a solution.

We offer confidential online audits of the internet footprints of children and teenagers. You can be sure for yourself whether bullying occurred, and take corrective action.

The fact of the matter is that all bullying is bad, and should be stopped whenever possible, as quickly as possible. The problem with bullying on the internet is that even after the bullying has stopped, there may be lasting evidence that can be found by a school administrator, a college admissions officer or a future employer. Armed with a confidential audit by ThirdParent, parents can correct the negative behavior and take steps to remove the harmful words or images.

Parents and school officials can contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe.

Poll: NJ Voters Think Students Should be Prosecuted for Lewd Photos

Local New Jersey news outlets are buzzing today in the aftermath of yesterday’s Ridgewood High School student nudity scandal.

In case you missed it, at least two girls sent sexually explicit photos of themselves to their boyfriends via the popular cell phone app Snapchat. At least one male student got hold of the photos and posted them to Instagram, and they spread like wildfire.

TP-Poll-News12NJPhotos sent via Snapchat are “supposed to be private”, but when captured by a screen shot or photographed by another device during the viewing period, they can be reported elsewhere, which is reportedly what happened in this case.

It was my impression that popular opinion would not choose to come down too hard on the girls who elected to send photos that they deemed to be private to their significant other, but rather only to someone who distributed or posted the photos without permission

News 12 New Jersey has a poll out today and I was shocked by the results. 45% of respondents feel that the girls in a case such as this deserve to be criminally charged for sending the photos.

Because of the child pornography laws at play here, the penalties could be quite steep for an action that probably seemed harmless to the teen at the time.  It’s getting tougher every day for parents to stay on top of these type of incidents. The solution begins with education, but monitoring what teens are actually doing can also help keep kids out of harm’s way.


Parents and school officials can contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for more news and information on keeping your teens safe.

Ridgewood New Jersey High School Battling Student Online Nudity today reported that Ridgewood High School and the local police are battling numerous incidents of students possessing, distributing and posting illicit photos or video to the internet.

According to a PDF sent to parents by Superintendent Daniel Fishbein:

ridgewood-nj-hsThe Ridgewood Police and Board of Education are requesting that parents promptly speak to their children about this behavior and to ensure that if their children are in possession of this type of material that it be deleted from their phones and other electronic devices immediately.

Needless to say, even the most conscientious parents in this case are in a tricky situation. Let’s assume that all of the Ridgewood parents take the time to talk to their teens about deleting inappropriate material and how to conduct themselves in the future. Consider any of the following possibilities:

  • A teen forgets that she posted something somewhere in the past and fails to delete it
  • A student does not delete something that he thinks is harmless, but might be viewed as damning by a college admissions officer or future employer
  • A student posted something thinking that it was private, but her privacy settings were incorrect leaving it in the public domain
  • A teen posts something that is private, but one of her “friends” reposts it somewhere else or otherwise obviates the privacy setting

For parents wanting the best solution for eradicating inappropriate internet content posted by or about their child, ThirdParent has an answer. Our confidential internet audit offers parents the most complete solution for protecting teens’ privacy and ensuring that future prospects are not diminished due to harmful internet content.

School Admins Struggle to Monitor Students’ Social Media

There is a great article on TribLive today that outlines the challenges school officials face in trying to reasonably and diligently supervise and discipline students’ inappropriate use of social media.

Perhaps the most significant quote comes from Brownsville school board President R.W. “Rocky” Brashear, who was forced to suspend 13 students last week over an extremely inappropriate Harlem Shake video:

 90 percent of the fights that happen in school start on Facebook

The article cites the need to update policies every year or even every few months, as circumstances warrant. With the web becoming the new school bulletin board, schools will continue to struggle to keep up, let alone get ahead of the curve.

How Can Schools Deal With Social Media Threats

Two separate, troubling social media incidents in North Carolina schools this week have parents and officials calling for a more deliberate response to dealing with incidents that spread quickly on social media.

social-media-wordcloudIn one incident, a 16-year-old student threatened on social media to bring a gun to school to kill other people and herself. In the other incident, a group of students stayed home from school when a rumor of an impending violent attack spread quickly on social media. The rumor turned out to be unfounded.

According to Ken Trump, a school-safety expert:

“The reality is that rumors that used to spread in hours and days now spread in minutes and seconds, Schools are never going to be 100 percent ahead of social media, but the challenge for them is how to narrow the gap.”

It is doubtful that anyone has all the answers yet. The keys to narrow the gap will probably be learned over the next few years. Parents working with their children to teach and reinforce good behavior is at least as important in the short term as the response from school administrators.

Stay Tuned

teen-laptopComing soon – a look at what is happening on the internet, but not everything that is happening on the internet.

In this space, we take a look at what is going on at the intersection of parents, teens and technology.

Have an idea for a blog topic? Let us know. Would you like to write a guest post? Let us know.

Please send us links to news and articles that interest you.