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<July 2015>

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Safe Teens - Net & Cells

Students: The one group missing from student data privacy laws & bills
The one group missing in the conversation about student privacy rights is the very group existing and proposed laws are designed to protect. If you read the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) or the proposed bills including the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 proposed by Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), they are all about parental rights but only empower students once they turn 18. I was pleased to see danah boyd weigh-in (all links below) on this subject, which I’ve been speaking about for several months but hadn’t yet gotten around to writing about. Student intellectual property rights As I said at a recent White House meeting with staff from the  Office of Science and Technology Policy and at a recent Berkman Center student privacy event, we need to craft legislation that also protects students’ rights to their own data. That not only means that students should have the right to protect their privacy but also the right to retain their data and intellectual property to use as they wish at any time in their lives. Most of the existing and proposed legislation gives parents the right to control student data until the [...] Continue reading

Moral panics amidst French media reports of kids disappearing for three days in “Game of 72″
The French English-language news site, The Local, is reporting about a supposed game where “teenagers have come up with a new Facebook challenge that dares them disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family.” The site reports that a 13-year old girl named Emma from northern France went missing for three days but turned up safe. The site says that the girl reported told authority that she had taken on a dare to play the “Game of 72″ (as in disappearing for 72 hours). The site said that French authorities have been unable to find actual Facebook postings about the game. Fears are spreading even if the game isn’t While the extent to which the game actually exist remains in doubt, that hasn’t stopped police authorities and media outlets from raising alarms.  The Canadian Global News site reports that police in Vancouver, BC are warning parents about the game, which, according to the site, requires that kids not “tell anyone where they are and the more mayhem and panic that is caused, the more points that teen is awarded.” Vancouver police are not aware of any actual cases of the game. British tabloid, Mirror, speculates [...] Continue reading

Teen Health and Wellness

Synthetic Marijuana Dangers on the Rise
Over the past year, calls to poison control centers about synthetic marijuana have tripled. From January to April 2015 alone, emergency calls quadrupled. Synthetic pot has been linked to 15 deaths so far this year. Synthetic marijuana consists of plant material that has been sprayed with laboratory-created chemicals. Sold under names like K2 and Spice, these drugs are falsely marketed as being “natural.” Many teens believe they are safe, but they can cause severe health effects.

Melanoma Rates Rising Among Girls and Women
Melanoma is a dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer. Over the past four decades, melanoma cases have increased 250 percent among girls and women. Two-thirds of these cases involve teens and young women. Researchers believe the jump is due to the popularity of unsafe tanning practices, especially use of tanning beds. Melanoma is preventable. Safeguard your skin by applying sunscreen before heading outdoors and by avoiding tanning beds.

Teen Walks 57 Miles with Brother on Back to Raise Awareness
Fifteen-year-old Hunter Gandee spent this past weekend marching 57 miles (92 km) with his 8-year-old brother Braden on his back. The Michigan teen completed the trek to raise awareness about cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects tens of thousands of kids and teens, including Hunter’s younger brother. Braden is unable to walk on his own. Young people with the condition often have trouble controlling their muscles and may have restricted movement.

Smoking Marijuana Prolongs Puberty in Boys
A new study from Pakistan has found that marijuana impacts puberty-related hormone levels in boys, triggering early puberty. At the same time, the drug lowers growth hormone levels, prolonging puberty. By age 20, pot smokers were found to be an average of 4.6 inches (11.7 cm) shorter than non-smokers. Marijuana users had much higher levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which may explain the early onset of puberty and its slow rate.