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Making Threats / Law Breaking

Kids aren't just potential victims. They can also be responsible for doing things that can hurt other people. This can range from being rude and obnoxious to committing crimes online.

There are several reported cases of kids getting into trouble for posting threatening or harassing material on Web pages, in chat rooms and in newsgroups. Kids should remember that anything they say about anyone can be viewed by people all over the world and can have a damaging effect on the person being talked about. Kids should never post anything about another person that could in any way harm that person. That includes publishing names, addresses, or phone numbers of anyone they know. Kids should refrain from saying bad things about other people in public forums, even if they feel they are true, and even if they are angry with that person. Even what appear to be "positive" comments about someone's appearance can be degrading and have a negative affect on that person.

Making Threats

It is wrong and illegal to threaten, intimidate, or harass other people regardless of whether those threats are delivered in person, on the phone, via the mail, or over the Internet. It can be especially harmful to deliver such threats in a public area such as a Web site, chat room, or bulletin board. If you or your child receive serious and frightening threats online, contact law enforcement.

Parents should talk with their children about the proper way to behave online and with other people and stress that threatening other people is not only wrong but can get the child into trouble at home, at school, or with the law.

Legal Risks

A lot of material posted on the Internet is copyrighted, which means that it might be illegal to reprint or post the material without permission. Kids need to understand that they do not have the right to re-post or distribute copyrighted graphics, music, videos, and text from Web sites without permission. This includes giving copies of the material to friends. There are some conditions where it is OK to use copyrighted material as part of a student paper or other project, but students should always check with their teacher first and cite the source of the information. Plagiarism - claiming that you wrote or drew something created by another person - is illegal, and committing plagiarism at school can be grounds for serious punishment.

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