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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Kents Hill School Visit

Phoebe and I drove two hours north to Kents Hill School. It was the third time going there for me and the second for Phoebe. It was actually Chris Gibson, who booked me, that inspired me to make Phoebe our mascot. When I got her two years ago, the vet suggested taking her everywhere I could to socialize her. Chris let her come with me to sit in the library after my talk and that's when I discovered students would come to pet her, then talk to me.

I did something different this time around. The last two times I'd gone to KHS, I'd used one of my alter egos to friend students. Since I knew they were wise to me and many of them would remember me from two years ago, I randomly selected 50 students just to see what I could view on their profiles. I was in for a shock. *Without* adding them as a friend I found that:

•Six listed their cell phone number in their profile

•10 listed their email address

•Half listed their complete date of birth

•1 girl listed where she works

•2 boys listed their home address

•I could see wall posts of 21 of them

•I could see photos of 49 of them

Which meant that ANYONE on Facebook could see what I saw.

Then I showed some photos that were totally inappropriate including giving the finger, drinking alcohol, someone holding a joint, sexual wall posts and surveys (which give out too much personal info that can be used against them or by a predator).

I also covered sexting and cyberbullying.

It was the first time we had been on an actual stage and Phoebe was showing off and barking too much. Yes, the students thought it was funny, but one of the teachers thankfully took Phoebe off the stage until it was time for her to get back on to do her tricks. She did a high five and shaking paws and was applauded for doing it. She likes being in the spotlight!

When I did Q&A, one boy, who I recognized from the previous talk I'd given two years ago kept insisting I used my alter ego to try to friend him. I didn't. I didn't need to use an alter ego AT ALL. That was the scariest part - they're putting all this info, these posts and photos that can and will be used against them.

Another boy pretty much stated that if someone was being cyberbullied and they wanted to kill themselves they were still going to do it. I tried to explain (again) that was why I offered several options for students who are being cyberbullied or maybe have a friend who is - to try to find them a way to report it so that they don't feel they have no other option except to be dead. He was a bit argumentative, but hey, I hope I got through to everyone else.

To recap the options I offer students about cyberbullies:

1. Find an adult to talk to about it, whether it's a teach, school employee, friend's parent or sister or brother, a nieghbor - find someone.

2. Go to our web site at haltabusektd.org, click on Need Help? and follow the steps there. We help for free and will NOT contact the cyberbully or school and try to help them resolve the situation quickly.

3. Go to our web site and tell Phoebe about it at http://haltabusektd.org/phoebe/index.html

4. Go to our web site and send Uncle Jim, our celebrity spokesperson about it at http://haltabusektd.org/about/staff/unclejim.html

5. Go to http://www.schooltipline.com/ and file an anonymous report that goes direct to their school (if your school isn't listed, talk to someone at your school about it being added). You remain completely anonymous!

Five different ways to combat cyberbullying.


Phoebe and I went to the library after our talk and sat there and talked with some students and listened to others who were making changes to the FB profiles and talking about what I'd said.

After that, I let Phoebe do her business, put her in the car and went to lunch. Sat with some school staff and got good feedback about what I'd talked about. A student came over to thank me and said he was going to be making changes to his profile. YAY!

On the way back to my car, I stopped by the bookstore and picked up hoodies for the hubby and me. Kents Hill's mascot is a husky, so bringing Phoebe with me was cool for the students. She loves the attention and I could tell a lot of them missed their dogs (it's a private school, so the students live there).

It was a bit hairy on the ride home; in some spots it was snowing like crazy; in others, icy rain. But we made it home safe and sound.

I checked on all 50 students this morning. All but 2 changed their wall post settings and all but 5 changed the photo settings. GOOD!

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