Disturbing teen behavior not prosecuted: Good

Sixth graders posting a “cartoon” on YouTube about “six ways to kill” another girl in their peer group. The girl’s mother was understandably horrified and called the police. The police later said they won’t pursue charges, the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune reports, because they don’t believe malice or hate were involved, also telling the News Tribune that “the girls called the victim’s mother crying and upset after the incident.” Wise police. Technically, this could be considered criminal behavior, but this is also adolescence. The executive part of the brain that understands the implications of actions isn’t developed until people’s early-to-mid-20s. Kids “just don’t think” a lot of the time, so parents need to be engaged and asking questions about why, for example, a child’s spending so much time in an animation program – what kind of animation is she creating? Lines of communication must be kept open so kids are less reluctant to answer those questions, which can help prevent cruel behavior from happening. From the coverage I’ve seen of this incident, both law enforcement and school handled it as a teachable moment for the benefit of individuals and community – to their credit, if that was the case. I love how middle-school principal Nancy Flynn in Minnesota handled a cyberbullying incident, turning it into a teachable moment for all the girls involved (note, too, the helpful, informed comments below her account). See also “The Net effect” – how the Internet affects age-old adolescent behavior. [Thanks to Anne Bubnic in California for pointing Flynn’s post out.]

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