Michigan School Board Fights Bullying With Bullying Hotline

School officials in Linden, Michigan have set up a bullying hotline that people can anonymously report bullying to via phone or text. The Eagle Hotline was implemented for middle and high school students after senior Josh Pacheco, 17, committed suicide on November 27 of last year. His parents believe that his suicide was a direct result of bullying.

This is a great example of school officials trying to combat the disastrous effects of bullying through technology. The fact that students can report bullying anonymously via text messages encourages more reporting, as children are not as afraid of being further targeted by bullying as a result of having to personally report it. A lot of bullying is now occurring over text messages and via the internet. However, a texting hotline allows for the possibility of students who receive bullying text messages to simply forward these messages to the hotline. This would both alert authorities to the behavior and provide proof that the bullying is in fact occurring.

The Eagle Hotline has received some criticism from parents who say that it isn’t doing enough to stop bullying. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to completely eliminate this destructive practice, although things like this hotline certainly help. It shows that school officials are taking this issue seriously and are dedicated to taking concrete, effective steps towards protecting students. Text Kills applauds them for their efforts and wishes them success in ending the bullying cycle.

For more on this story, click here.

Text Kills® In The Orange County Register!

The Orange County Register was kind enough to publish a story today about the success of our recent K-JAM Wild-Hearts Concert! Be sure to check it out here. Thank you, Orange County Register!

Shortcomings Of Kentucky Texting And Driving Law Show Need For Widespread Changes

Kentucky enacted a ban on texting and driving in 2010, although police and prosecutors are now saying that this legislation is nearly impossible to enforce. In Jefferson County, Kentucky, nearly 40 percent of texting charges have been dismissed as a result of the way the law is written, which makes it illegal to send or receive text messages while driving but does not address browsing the internet, updating social media, or getting directions. Because of this distinction, it has proven very difficult for law enforcement to prove that a driver was in fact texting and not, for example, updating their Facebook status—which is perfectly legal.

While prosecutors can subpoena phone records to provide evidence that a driver was texting, this procedure proves time consuming and costly, as the officer issuing the citation must get the driver’s cell phone number, service provider, the name on the account, and possibly the brand and serial number of the phone. And with the penalties for texting and driving so lenient ($25 for a first offense and $50 for additional violations plus court costs), it simply does not seem worthwhile to law enforcement.

The Governors Highway Safety Association and The National Safety Council both support a total ban on phone use while driving. Text Kills shares this position. Whether it is texting, talking, surfing the web, or tweeting, using a phone while driving is distracted driving, and all it takes is a second of taking your attention off the road for an accident to occur. A total ban on phone use would also make it much easier for law enforcement to address the issue, as it would eliminate loopholes allowing people to argue that they were using their phone for something besides texting. When people are dying as a result of distracted driving, it really doesn’t matter whether it was a text or a tweet that caused it.

When it comes to using your phone and driving, it’s just not worth it.

To read more on this story, click here.

Fargo Police Get Creative To Curb Texting While Driving

Taking a play from the Text Kills playbook, Fargo Police have enacted their “Eyes Forward” campaign. They are getting people to sign pledges and promise not to text and drive. While they may not have a killer tour bus like we do, we applaud them in their efforts to get creative and encourage personal responsibility amongst drivers, especially teens, to not engage in the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

For more on this story, click here.

Whose Responsibility Is It In Dealing With Cyberbullying?

School principals in Ireland have recently become frustrated with social networks being either unresponsive or slow to respond to school requests to take down abusive posts about students in their care. The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) believe that networks such as Facebook should play a greater role in dealing with the problem, suggesting that they should appoint a dedicated liaison officer whose job it is to take calls from schools and parents and act promptly in deleting offensive posts.

While social media sites can be perceived as partly responsible for addressing the problem of cyberbullying, a recent NAPD survey indicates that most people believe that both parents and schools share responsibility for tackling cyberbullying. The survey showed some interesting results:

81% believe that cyberbullying and traditional bullying have equally serious implications for children’s mental health.

12% believe cyberbullying is more serious than traditional bullying.

66% say parents should police children’s internet use.

63% say schools should ban smartphones and social networks.

A combination of educating youth on the dangerous implications of cyberbullying and remaining vigilant of their internet use is a sound plan. Parents and school officials should work together to ensure the safety of their children and remain vigilant for any harmful behavior. However, banning the use of technology that can be misused to harm others does not seem like an effective solution. It is not the technology itself that is the problem, but rather the way it is used. In fact, technology can be used as a way of combating cyberbullying, as in the case of the Word Bully smartphone app from Iconosys. The idea of social media networks appointing a cyberbullying liaison to take down offensive posts is a great idea however, and one that seems easily accomplished.

What do you think? Should Facebook and Twitter have people whose job it is to address all cyberbullying complaints? Let us know in the comments section.

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Ohio Enacts Texting While Driving Laws With Stricter Punishments For Teens

Starting last Friday, Ohio motorists caught texting while driving became subject to fines, while drivers under 18 potentially face license suspensions. Ohio had already enacted a six-month grace period during which drivers were issued warnings, but now the practice is a minor misdemeanor, although it is only a secondary offense for adults. Secondary means that it becomes a violation if a driver is stopped for another traffic offense, so that they can then be cited for both violations. For drivers under 18 however, the practice is a stand alone ticket-able offense.

Many municipalities already had stricter anti-texting laws on the books, which they may continue to enforce. For example, Wauseon forbids all drivers from sending and receiving text messages. Ohio is the 38th state to criminalize texting while driving and the first state to take every cell phone, computer, or other wireless device out of teen drivers’ hands. The only exception allows for the use of navigational devices as long as teens don’t use their hands to reprogram them while driving.

Adult violators of the new law face a fine of up to $150 for a first offense, while minors face a fine and a 60-day license suspension. Subsequent offenders are subject to $300 fines and a one-year license suspension.

Text Kills supports laws that prohibit the deadly practice of texting while driving and seek to make the roads safer for everybody. While the laws are harsher on teen drivers than adult drivers, this is due to the tragic fact that more young drivers are getting into accidents and dying as a result of texting while driving. Although the penalties may seem severe, the results of texting while driving can prove much more severe. We hope that someday soon every state will enact similar laws to help curb distracted driving and save lives, especially those of our youth.

For more on this story, click here.

Its Not Too Late To UNPLUG

As of Midnight last night, we were all asked to unplug our smart devices on National Day of Unplugging.















We hope you unplugged to Drive!  :-)

Woman Educates Youth On Consequences Of Distracted Driving

In May 2008, Jaci Good’s life was turned upside down by a distracted driver. A 30 ton 18 wheeler hit her family car after an 18-year-old ran a red light while talking on his cell phone. Both of her parents died, while Good broke nearly every bone in her body, her organs were punctured, and she suffered a brain injury. As a result of the accident, she was forced to relearn how to talk, walk, and remember.

But Good has chosen to try to take her personal tragedy and use it as a way of educating youth and preventing such accidents. She visits students to share her story and encourage them to just “hang up and drive.”

“No one needs to stand in my shoes,” says Good. “I have felt more pain than anyone should feel in their lifetime and no one else should go through that. What happened to me is 100 percent preventable.”

Text Kills agrees that distracted driving accidents are entirely preventable, which is why we also try to educate the youth about the dangers of distracted driving and get them to take the pledge not to text and drive. Whether it’s talking or texting, using a phone while driving can prove deadly and makes the roads unsafe for everybody. We commend Ms. Good on her strength through adversity and her work in making the roads safer for us all.

Don’t forget to hang up and drive, and remember that Text Kills.

Tragic Figures: Teenage Driver Fatalities Up By 17%

Recently released statistics indicate that deaths amongst teenage drivers are up. This sobering data shows that teenagers are still the group that is most at risk for fatal accidents on the road, whether they be due to distracted driving or other factors. While these statistics are alarming, they only renew our dedication to combating distracted driving and making those roads safer for all of us. We hope that our work will contribute in some way toward saving teen lives, as there is nothing more tragic than a life cut short by preventable causes.

From Governors Highway Safety Association:

Preliminary data indicate deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers are up 19 percent between the first six months of 2011 and the first six months of 2012. The data was provided by GHSA members, who were surveyed in late 2012. All 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to the survey. This report analyzes the data provided.

If the final 2012 data follows this trend, then 2012 would be the second year in a row of increases in teen driver deaths, following eight years of decline. (GHSA had predicted the 2011 increase in teen driver deaths in a similar report last year).

The recent increase in teen driver deaths is presumably related to the partial economic recovery that has taken place, leading to more teens on the road and greater exposure to risk. Another possible explanation is that fewer states have been strengthening their Graduated Driver Licensing systems in recent years.

Renewed efforts to achieve further reductions in teen driver deaths include: strengthening GDL systems (and improving compliance with existing provisions); improved driver education and training programs; scientifically-based evaluation of the many programs addressing young drivers; and concentration of resources on those shown to have positive effects.

For more on this story, including data graphs, go here.

Minnesota Needs Your Help To Stand Up Against Bullying!

Bullying has become such a huge problem that most states have laws on the books dealing with the issue. However, many of these laws do not seem to be enough, as in the case of Minnesota, which has received national attention due to having one of the shortest and weakest bullying prevention laws in the country. In fact, it is only 37 words long, and doesn’t even define bullying or outline a process for how schools should handle bullying. As a result, many school districts have set up different interpretations of the law, which has led to less punishment of bullies and many students feeling unsafe or even committing suicide in extreme cases.

For these reasons, the state’s School Bullying Prevention Task Force has outlined a plan of action for the governor and state legislature to use in order to enact and enforce more effective across-the-board laws. There are 7 main recommendations that they have made:

1. Strong and Effective Minnesota Statute: Submit a bill to enact a strong, specific anti-bullying policy directive for school districts.

2. Supportive Schools: Encourage prevention education for all students, staff, family and community.

3. Student, Family and Community Engagement and Collaboration

4. Formative Interventions and Discipline: Encourage graduated, supportive, formative and restorative discipline, in addition to formal discipline.

5. State Agency Support to School Districts: Establish a cross-agency collaboration council and a School Climate Center at the Minnesota Department of Education to provide technical assistance to districts and communities.

6. Accountability and Data: Ensure accountability and monitoring of the state’s progress toward ensuring a safe learning environment for all students.

7. Funding for Effective Implementation.

Text Kills applauds them for their effort and agrees with the need to enact clearer, more effective laws that can save lives. Do you agree with them? If you do, then please take a moment to sign their petition here. 

Bullying effects all it comes in contact with in a negative way. What do you think: Should we have laws at the federal level dealing with the issue of bullying? What should the punishments should be for bullying? Do you see a difference in severity between physical bullying and cyber- or text-bullying? Let us know in the comments section.

Please visit the Bully Buster USA Facebook page for more information on bullying and to show your support for anti-bullying policies.

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