Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Katie Couric has her new daytime show; Oct. 2 episode covers cyberbullying with two shocking pranks

The new syndicated daytime TV show “Katie” (on ABC at 4 PM in Washington DC, as Anderson moved up to 3 PM) took on the subject of high school online cyberbullying on Tuesday, October 2.

The first story concerned Whitney Kroop, a girl at Ogemaw High School in Michigan, who was set up by a prank that claimed she was homecoming queen when she wasn’t.   There’s a brief story in a Stamford CT paper here

Even more disturbing was the story of Katie Uffens, whose parents took her out of a San Diego area high school after another online prank claimed to have set up a threat to her life.  Police were involved and one teenage boy was detained, but formal charges were never brought.  The parents felt that the school’s ability to deal with the problem was ineffective.  The story in the Examiner (and the language is more explicit than I can reproduce here) has this link.

Katie has a lead story for her coverage of the problem on her own website here

These particular incidents did not seem to involve anti-gay bullying specifically.  Some psychologists say that girls are more likely to be drawn to online social combat than boys, because girls value relationships in a more sensitive way.
ABC News legal reporter Dan Abrams appeared and said that a minor (or her parents) could bring suit against another minor for online harassment even when there are no criminal charges.
I didn’t see Parry Aftab on this show.  She has appeared on Ellen and on Anderson.  

"The cruel words of one cannot compete with the shouts of many" -- said by Jennifer Livingston on ABC GMA October 3.  Livingston said that kids learn this behavior from examples set by adults online.  You wouldn't say to someone's face what you might say online.  It's relevant that the Wall Street Journal ran an article recently on why people feel free to be rude online.

On "Today" another observer said that when a powerful media person is criticized fir his or her appearance by tacky comments, the media person might be playing the role of "bully" by reacting vigorously.

Pictures: San Diego area, my own (May 2012). 

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