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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2013/ 11 Kislev, 5774

Pushes for law to penalize parents of cyberbullies

By Michael Smerconish



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Mark O'Mara has me thinking about my lack of oversight of our sons' use of social media.

O'Mara, the Florida trial lawyer who successfully defended George Zimmerman, is advocating criminal penalties for the parents of cyberbullies. The case that spurred his interest will certainly generate support for his initiative, but I'm not comfortable with where it leads.

Rebecca Sedwick, 12, took her own life by jumping from the water tower of an abandoned concrete plant in Polk County, Fla., in September. Her death came after she allegedly endured extended harassment from a 12-year-old and 14-year-old, the latter of whom is accused of posting on her Facebook page: "Yes IK (I know) I bullied REBECCA (A)nd she killed her self but IDGAF (I don't give a f-)."

The two girls have been charged with felony aggravated stalking, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Nearly three dozen states have enacted laws banning cyberbullying, but, if O'Mara gets his wish, Florida would become the first to hold the parents of cyberbullies criminally responsible.

"I do not intend to become a bill writer or lawmaker or anything like that; this just seemed to be screaming out for someone to take some action on it," he told me recently.

By the time we spoke, he'd already offered some of his legal rationale in a blog, writing: "If a child kills someone while using a parent's gun, the parent can be held responsible. If a child breaks the law using a computer or cellphone, provided by the parent, how is that different?"

With regard to the tragic death of Sedwick, O'Mara told me that the parents of the 14-year-old have suggested in interviews that they were supervising their daughter's use of her cellphone and laptop.



"I have to really look at that and say, 'How could you possibly be so unaware of what was going on when it was incessant for 11 months?'" O'Mara asked.

But if the standard for judging parents is how often they check their child's cellphone or Facebook page, I'll have a problem. Hardly a week goes by without my wife or me telling a story at the dinner table concerning bad behavior online that was pulled from the headlines or mined at our respective workplaces, always ending with our admonishment: "Be careful when you hit the send key." I don't envy our children growing up in a world where a split-second decision made at a keypad can have life-altering consequences. All the mistakes I made at their age, and there were many, are only as permanent as people's faded memories or a frayed Xerox.

Still, my vigilance has limits. I do not touch our sons' cellphones, read their e-mail, or friend them on Facebook. Based on an unscientific survey of my radio audience, this seems to place me in a minority. But I refuse to acknowledge any dereliction in this regard. They have never given my wife or me any problem that would warrant what I consider to be a violation of their privacy. Which is why I told O'Mara that I'm troubled by any legal standard that says a parent who is unaware of their kids' social media is necessarily negligent. By that standard, I could end up behind bars.

"And that's one of the constitutional concerns that I acknowledge," O'Mara replied. "If you're doing that and your boys have just sent out a nasty text, I do not think that you should be held liable. But if your boys are doing that for six or seven months, and they're doing it across their platforms, (that's different)."

On that I'd agree, if the parents knew or should have known (because they were alerted) that something was wrong.

O'Mara envisions that "if the prosecutor can show that the parents were acting in a willful blind way, or in a grossly negligent way, what we call culpable negligence, where it can be shown that they so failed to maintain their obligations as parents that they should be held responsible, then I think they should be accountable."

He argues: "The Internet is a wonderful, wonderful tool. . . . But, in the same sense, it's a place where child pedophiles hang out, child pornographers hang out, and where cyberbullies hang out. . . . To the extent that those cyberbullies are children, Mom and Dad have an obligation to protect them — the kids — from learning stuff they shouldn't be learning, and from doing stuff they shouldn't be doing, and (protect) those people who they do it to."

While I'm still not accessing our sons' electronics, I will share my exchange with O'Mara at the dinner table as a lesson. And then, either I or my wife will repeat, "Be careful when you hit the send key."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Michael Smerconish writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Previously:


10/17/13 Ventura is baaack, at it!
08/21/13 In defense of stop and frisk
07/10/13 Elections with open primaries no longer a voter's dream
04/04/13 Being stalked --- by cookies
03/26/13 Food giants engineering the recipe for obesity
03/07/13 He wrote the book on keeping the fires burning
02/05/13 Making policy palatable with food and drink think
12/19/12 In defense of the DJs
12/17/12 Key to election --- stocks, not jobs
12/11/12 United Airlines' post-9/11 commitment to security rescinded?
11/01/12 Good reasons to revive draft
09/25/12 If Romney loses
04/19/12 Christie will get GOP nod in 2016
04/06/12 Romneys not only family with embarrassing stories
03/08/12 Here's an easy fix for King monument quote
02/28/12 Valor-medal lie as free speech
02/21/12 Now we know: Van Halen's M&M rider was just a test
02/14/12 Life inside the (class) bubble
02/09/12 Rethinking paths to wealth
01/17/12 Romney must face his work history head-on
01/11/12 Don't let those gift cards be a gift to retailers or the state
01/03/12 Headlines hoped for in 2012
11/09/11 Romney, beware: Cain may bob through the straits
11/02/11 Where there's ad smoke, there's … what?
10/20/11 After husband is murdered, 30 long years of phone calls
10/13/11 Black women should only marry out of their race?
08/31/11 Some political gaffes really say something
07/27/11 An overture of candidates' theme songs
06/28/11 Where's the app for common sense?
06/02/11 Over-scrutinizing lives costs us potential leaders
04/19/11 Taking a chance to say, ‘Hi’
04/06/11 Race policies should be altered to reflect new demographic reality
11/10/10 Delaware's independent, but short-lived, voice
11/03/10 Papers should leave endorsing to others
10/21/10 Media help to hype perception of bullying
09/23/10 Officer down, killer hyped up
08/04/10 Documents highlight Pakistan's shortcomings as a U.S. ally
07/06/10 On taking back Sept. 11
06/29/10 Name elite corps to develop energy independence?
04/21/10 New account reinforces a serviceman's valor
03/11/10 Medical profession must police itself better
02/18/10 One-trick athletes
02/09/10 Active, retired law officers should be able to carry guns on planes to help stop terrorists
02/04/10 How to bring tech up to speed
01/28/10 Campaign donations must be fully and immediately disclosed online
01/07/10 The flying emperor still has no clothes, and no one is willing to say so
12/24/09 A law to mandate college football playoffs?
12/17/09 Cheney's abuse of freedom of speech
11/26/09 The true cost of freedom from anxiety
10/27/09 If GOP wants to win in 2012, it must reshape its primary process
10/08/09 It's time to get smarter on extended school day
09/03/09 What a summer of eulogizing flawed public figures reveals about society
08/12/09 It's time for cyclists and motorists to reconcile
08/05/09 Faces have changed, but vitriol remains
06/25/09 Fair comment or foul? Warm up the Muzzle Meter
06/08/09 Believability is key in crime-hoax villains
05/14/09 Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?
04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about ‘plans’
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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