New form of bullying: textual harassment

Harrassment by text on the rise:

One of the newest epidemics in the world of texting is Textual Harassment, a form of harassment delivered by text message. Textual harassment and techno-stalking are a growing concern, especially because it's so quick and easy to accomplish, and affects all ages of both women and men - and is running ramped within the teen sector.

One of the biggest problems is when teens are harassed, they keep it to themselves. They're embarrassed, and parents are the last person they'll go to for help. It's up to us parents to talk openly to our children about these issues, just like we talk about drinking and drugs.

Textual Harassment is an unfortunate reality that has developed as a result of the growth and popularity of texting, to the degree that special laws have been put in place to protect the innocent.

The laws that define textual harassment vary from state to state, but in California a single unsolicited text message that threatens physical harm or is obscene is enough to meet the definition of textual harassment. If the text doesn't fall into either of these categories, then the text must be sent several times in order to be considered textual harassment.

What do kids need to do if they get harassed by text?
They need to know how to handle it, and we need to teach them to:

I - Ignore the Text - DON'T RESPOND and make a copy of the message
B - Block - Call your provider and have them block the number
R - Report - Report the harassment to the police

It really comes down to one question when you or your child is trying to decide if a text has crossed the line. Ask yourself "Do you/they feel threatened or violated in any way?" If your answer is "Yes", don't respond to the texts, keep copies of the messages, and if needed, block their number. If you/they feel threatened, strongly consider reporting them to the police, which is why you need to document the messages by making copies.

Most importantly, if you or someone you care about gets harassed by text, understand that it's becoming common in the world of technology, and how easy it is to hide behind a cell phone. There are millions of textual harassment cases reported every year in the United States, and it Shawn's opinion my strong opinion that most cases go unreported - especially when it comes to our teens ages 13 -16.

For more information and reports published by the US Department of Justice, Violence Against Women, go directly to their site at

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Book signing and accepting no phone zone pledges:
Barnes & Noble Dublin
Sunday, May 23, 2010 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Hacienda Crossings
4972 Dublin Boulevard
Dublin, CA 94568

Read Between the Lines Signing & Don't Text & Drive Campaign
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The Ellington at Jack London Square
June 8
5 p.m to 7 p.m.

Available in the App Store as of on May 14
Provides novice texters and confused parents the ability to look up thousands of abbreviations in the snap of a finger

For more information on Shawn Marie Edgington, visit

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