Shayne on You: Cyber-policing your kids

Dear Maggie,

I have been married for three and a half years to a wonderful, sweet and caring guy. He helps with the housework, adores our child and supports me in everything I do.†

For several years, my husband and I have had to spend Valentineís Day away from one another, and since he will be home this year, I really want to do something special and romantic, but nothing I think of seems good enough. Any ideas on how to capture that special moment?

Signed,

His Valentine

Dear Valentine,

I could come up with dozens of ideas for movies and dinners and dancing and heart shaped chocolates and red rose bouquets. But something tells me youíre not going to need any help from me.

The most romantic thing you two could possibly do this Valentineís Day, is spend it together. It wonít matter if you order pizza and watch DVDs, or put on your best dress and go out to a five star restaurant. Just being together is the ticket for you this year. Youíre not going to notice a darn thing besides each other anyway.

There wouldnít be a V-Day dinner being held at the place where you had your wedding or reception would there?

Even if you decide to spend the evening at home, you might want to try to find a sitter. V-Day isnít the best time to get one, so start the hunt early and you might get lucky. Perhaps you have some sisters who arenít busy?



Also, donít over-plan without talking to your guy first. He sounds like the type who might already be secretly plotting the perfect night for you!

Happy Valentineís Day to you both!

Maggie

Dear Maggie,

Recently, while browsing around Myspace.com (I like to keep track of what my kids are doing online) I happened upon a page belonging to the daughter of a friend of mine. The girl is planning a return to her former school soon, and posted about it on her site. Sadly, she was bombarded by hateful notes from other students saying they didnít want her back. Hateful, cruel messages have been left on her site. It was heartbreaking.

My question is, should I tell my friend (the girlís mother) about this, and if so, how?

Signed,

Worried on the Web

Dear Worried,

First of all, kudos to you for being online, checking things out and keeping yourself informed and in the know. Not enough parents do that these days. And thank goodness you did, because what you stumbled onto here is crucially important.

Recently, as Iím sure you know, a teenage girl was driven to suicide by a MySpace.com hoax. And itís not the first time it has happened. Bullying like this is what many authorities name as a contributing factor in the rash of school shootings the U.S. has seen in recent years. Itís not a matter of ďkids will be kidsĒ anymore. Kids are dying. So we need a zero tolerance policy.

Due to that recent suicide case and others like it, MySpace and other sites have adopted extremely strict policies for dealing with cyber bullies. So your jobs now are these:

First, yes, you must tell your friend whatís happening to her daughter. I have no doubt she already knows something is wrong and probably feels frustrated at not knowing what. If you canít come right out and tell her what you saw, ask her to go and look at her daughterís MySpace page to see whatís been going on. But warn her that itís not pretty, so sheíll be prepared. You should also be ready with the exact URL in case sheís not web-savvy herself. Better yet, try to be there with her and visit the page together.

Second, see if you can identify any of the black-hearted little wasters of oxygen, and if you can, inform their parents. And again, send the exact link or even printouts, so they can see just what kind of venom their precious darlings are capable of spewing, what kind of hatred theyíre dishing out to their fellow human beings. What kind of emotional pollution theyíre vomiting onto the planet in a deliberate attempt to poison a peer.

Did I get off topic? Sorry. My temper flares when it encounters sheer cruelty. Thereís just no reason for it. It does nothing but harm, both to those dishing it out and to those unfortunate enough to be its targets.

Anyway, the final step, once everyone who needs to see the evidence has seen it, is to inform MySpace so they can boot the wretches off the list. Go to www.myspace.com and click on Contact MySpace at the bottom of the page. From the dropdown menu of subjects, choose ďreport abuseĒ and take it from there.

And if you want to send me the link, Iíd dearly love to give those putrid creatures my thoughts on their behavior. Better yet, though, Iíll just return my focus to the positive side, and leave some wonderfully supportive posts on the victimís site instead.

Good luck.

Maggie

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