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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

Make Someone’s Day with a Small Act of Kindness
Emma Gregoire had special plans for her fourteenth birthday. Instead of throwing a party, she and her friends performed random acts of kindness for people in their Windsor, Ontario, community. The teens gave food and clothing to local shelters, visited senior citizens, paid for coffee and parking meters, and donated hair for cancer patients. You don’t have to devote an entire day to doing good—a small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Facebook Adds Suicide Prevention Tools
Over the next two months, Facebook will roll out new tools to help users struggling with thoughts of suicide. If a user posts something that points to suicide or self-harm, friends can report the post. Facebook will review flagged posts and offer help to the user by connecting him or her with a mental health expert at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Facebook will also give the user the option of reaching out to a friend or reading advice on working through their difficulties.

Coming Out Leads to Better Mental Health for GLBT Teens
A new study says gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender high school students who come out to their peers have higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression than teens who are not open about their orientations. The study found GLBT teens often experienced victimization regardless of whether they had come out at school, so researchers believe fear of bullying should not deter teens from living their lives openly.

New Marijuana Law Takes Effect in Alaska
This week, recreational marijuana becomes legal in Alaska, with anyone 21 or older allowed to possess an ounce of marijuana. In Oregon, a similar law will take effect in July. Last November, voters in both states chose to legalize the drug, just as Colorado and Washington did in 2012. Because these state laws apply to those age 21 or older, marijuana remains illegal for teens to possess or smoke anywhere.