How An 11-Year-Old Got Death Threats on the Internet
How many of you have heard (or, more disturbingly, seen) the YouTube video of the 11-year-old girl Jessi Slaughter (not her real last name, but the one she uses on the Internet)? You know, the one where she uses the f- word every other word? The one where she threatens her “haters” with this lovely line: “If you can’t stop hating, you know what? I’ll pop a glock in your mouth a make a brain slushy.” What would possess an 11-year-old girl to threaten to shoot someone? And in that language? Watching it made me physically sick. If you watch it, I warn you, it’s disturbing.
It made me sick to watch an 11-year-old speak and behave the way she did. It was also scary to see what happened to her after the posting. This is a real warning to you parents. Don’t be naïve. Know what your kids are doing on the Internet. After she posted her “hate the haters” video, someone posted it to 4Chan.org’s /b/ message board and Tumblr. That’s when the really frightening stuff started.
Suddenly, Jessi was being harassed by people she didn’t know. Her real name, phone number and address were circulated. What this child inadvertently did was open up her home to virtually millions of strangers who started calling her house, ordering hundreds of pizzas to be delivered there, sending prostitutes from Craig’s List to her home, threatening to kill her, suggesting that she kill herself.
It gets worse. If you saw the first video, then you probably felt compelled, as I was, to watch her dad’s ranting video. He’s yelling and screaming at the camera, threatening the virtual audience out there who is turning his daughter into a sleepless mess as Jessi sits at the computer and sobs.
How did it all start? Jessi was chatting and gossiping with other young teens through Stickydrama about an emo band when things got out of hand. Jessi was accused of having some kind of connection (sexual?) to the lead singer. You can imagine how some 13-year-olds might talk to and about each other when they think no adult will see the conversation and they’re shielded from one another because they’re on the Internet.
Jessi ended up in police protection, I believe.
So, what do we take away from this as parents? Don’t assume your kids are savvy Internet users. Be aware of what they’re doing and what sites they’re visiting. There’s lots of software out there that will let you control it. Don’t try to be your kid’s friend. Be her parent.
Get your kids involved in healthy activities and limit their computer time. While you’re at it, throw out the violent video games. Is violence really something you value? Don’t assume that kids, even teens, are miniature adults. Give them developmentally appropriate freedom, but not a free rein. Above all, communicate. Live your values and communicate them to your children. Talk to them about how posting things online, including on what they often think is a private Facebook page. It may come back to haunt them. Nothing on Facebook is really private