Stop cyber-bullying event for young children

by | May 25, 2012 | What’s Happening

Sunday, June 10, 12:30–3 pm

Are you afraid of the influence of Facebook and other forms of social media on your child? Are you a grandparent who sees your grandchild rarely reading books and more often on the computer or texting?

Most children begin using various forms of social media to communicate with their friends as early as elementary school. While Facebook is not legal for those under 13, there is no way of knowing the age of its youngest users. Preteens and younger children are too often either victims of “cyber bullying” or guilty of spreading unnecessary gossip through forms of social media.

The Simon Family JCC’s Kids Connection Before and After School Program will present a program to learn how to combat this problem. The program will begin with lunch for the parents and children (kindergarten through fifth grade), followed by activities for the children, while parents have an open and frank discussion aboutcyber bullying with Jill Brown,  founder and CEO of, an online network where tweens can socialize safely.

Brown, a highly regarded and wellknown internet safety expert, is also the founder and CEO of Generation Text Online, a company that offers a variety of programs to help protect students from bullying.

Her view is tried and proven to help schools deal with bullying via social media, cell phones and YouTube. The key to her message is not to tell kids to stop using the
internet and social media, but rather, to assume they will actively engage in it, and instruct them to do so safely, thinking about the consequences of posting the wrong comment or picture.

“I’d like to reach out to every child all over the country and show them what’s appropriate and inappropriate, but ultimately I want to educate parents as to what they can do to keep their kids safe,” she says.

Brown developed ItsMy as a stepping-stone to Facebook for middle schoolers. “It was created to give kidsa chance to go online safely and actually
do good work through their athletic group, religious group or other affiliation,” she says. Facebook, which many children engage in at a young age, gives them no guidance as to how to behave. Children go on this site, set up a page, and sometimes reveal too much about themselves. “They make themselves vulnerable to potential bullying by being exposed to things that are not age appropriate,” says Brown.

Parents need to be involved in the early years, gradually building trust in their children to behave in an age appropriate way. “We need to tell young children that if they are going online, we have a rule of checking up on them,” Brown says, advising parents to make sure their child is divulging only limited or appropriate information online. As they get older, children will develop the skills to make their own online, texting and other social media decisions.

“The idea of wearing a helmet or seat belt is to be safe while doing that activity. By using ItsMyLocker or monitoring their text messages and Facebook, parents will have the opportunity to be privy to the information, therefore enabling them to help their kids if they need help.”

Prior to founding ItsMyLocker, Brown co-founded Furniture Assist, a nonprofit foundation that collects and distributes used furniture to needy families. In 2008, she and Furniture Assist secured 2,727 donors, doubling the previous year’s donations and resulting in the distribution of just under $200,000 worth of furniture.

Over the past 13 years, Brown has balanced a career of consulting, leadership, management and motherhood. She was featured on NBC’s Today Show, for being a “Supermom” in 2005. She has served on the boards of Presbyterian Church of Westfield, N.J. Mission Commission, Family Life Department of Westfield Area YMCA, and Citizens Advisory Committee
for Enrollment for the Westfield Board of Education.

The Prevent Cyber Bullying event is free and open to the community. Held at the Simon Family JCC, a light lunch will be served. For more information and to RSVP, call 321-2338.

by Leslie Shroyer