“Worries of the World Wide Web”
A presentation of the Illinois Judges Association (IJA)
“Worries of the World Wide Web” is a 50-60 minute program created to address the increasing problem of cyber bullying, electronic harassment, and sexting/pornography. The program is geared toward middle school and addresses the social and legal consequences of this potentially criminal conduct with a goal of increasing awareness of what is cyber bullying, harassment, and sexting is and how it may impact the lives of those students who participate in it. Judges Susan Boles and Clint Hull created the program after talking to middle school teachers who indicated that their students were being negatively impacted through their use of social media. Judge Boles and Hull along with other Kane County Judges have been presenting the program throughout Kane County to both students and their parents for the past four years. In 2016-17, the Illinois Judges Association (IJA) worked with Judges Boles and Hull and expanded the program statewide. The first training session for the program was conducted in January of 2017 where over seventy judges were trained to give this presentation.
The program combines television newscasts, posted social media videos, a “name that app” game and the judges’ courtroom experiences to make it interactive and engaging for the students. The program starts with a six-minute YouTube viral video titled “The Bully” which has been viewed worldwide over 700,000 times. The video was written and produced by a thirteen year old junior-high student from St. Charles, Illinois, who was a victim of bullying after moving to the United States from Ireland. The program then explains how using social media to bully a classmate may quickly turn into criminal behavior. After exploring bullying and electronic harassment the program shifts to discussing sexting and/or child pornography. The judges using real life examples will explain how seemingly private texts, pictures, and videos are actually not private and explain how a semi-nude or nude selfie could be shared with hundreds of their classmates and posted on the internet. Students will learn how a person who possesses and/or shares the picture could be charged criminally with sexting, child pornography, and/or distribution of child pornography. The program will discuss the legal and non-legal consequences of being charged with a crime. The presentation ends with a question and answer session and a video titled “Cyber Bullying Victims Gone Too Soon” which is a compilation of pictures and a short summary of teenagers who have taken their own lives as a result of being victimized by social media. The goal is to increase awareness of the dangers of social media and to attempt to prevent them from making a mistake that could impact their lives and others in the future.
Target audience: 6th, 7th, and 8th graders
Timing: It is best to have time for student questions at the end so plan on 1 hour for the entire presentation.
Size: The program is more effective with a smaller group. If possible it is best to limit your audience to one grade level. However, the program can be given in gyms to the entire school.
Equipment: Laptop, projector, sound system, and microphone(s).
Arrival: Arrive 30 minutes to one hour early to set up.
History: It is a good idea to speak to your school liaison prior to the presentation to learn if there have been any social media issues in or around the school.
Media/Guests: With the school’s permission, local community leaders, judges and media will be invited.
Parents: It is up to the school to decide if they would like to invite parents to attend. Schools have at times set it up so you will give it to the parents the night before you give it to the school.
About the Illinois Judges Association. The IJA, with 1,250 members of active and retired judges, provides education and services to judges and the public. For more information, or to request this program in a school, contact: Kathy Hosty, Illinois Judges Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604, or call (312) 431-1283 or log onto their web site at www.ija.org to view the contract and testimonials.