Pause Before You Post

Jostens aims to stop cyber bullying by encouraging students to make smart decisions online

As cyber bullying continues to occur among children and teens, programs are emerging in order to stop this problem. Jostens, the ring, announcement and yearbook company, is advocating its new program Pause Before You Post™ which teaches students, parents and educators about the consequences of posting online.

“We worked with Jostens to create the Pause Before You Post campaign back in 2010 as a way to educate teens about using technology responsibly,” co-director of Cyber bullying Research Center Dr. Justin Patchin said. “The idea was to give students practical advice about issues to consider when posting information online.”

The program is backed by research conducted by Patchin and Dr. Sameer Hinduja in their pursuit to stop cyber bullying.

“Sameer Hinduja and I began studying cyber bullying and teen technology use in 2002 because I have always been interested in helping youth, and Sameer has always been interested in computers and technology,” Patchin said. “It was a perfect match for our areas of interest.”

The first thing that Pause Before You Post asks is for students to consider their audience. They ask for students to think about the possibility of it being seen by anyone and how it could affect them in the future.

“I think about future employers looking at my posts but I don’t worry about it,” senior Caitlin Wiley said. “I just try not to say things I’ll regret later.”

Confession pages much like Fenton Confessions seem to be appearing in many high schools across the country. According to Patchin, these types of pages are “an unfortunate abuse of technology” that is “used to harass, intimidate, or defame others.”

“There was no point to Fenton Confessions,” senior Lexi Isaac said. “People didn’t realize that if we all just stopped sending things anonymously then we wouldn’t have had a problem.”

Not long after Fenton Confessions was dealt with, posters displaying the acronym ‘THINK’ as a set of questions for students to ask themselves before posting online were posted throughout the school halls. The posters were given to all Genesee County superintendents from the GISD, who then distributed them to their schools.

“I hope that students are reminded to think before they post anything online,” Principal Mark Suchowski said. “Students, as well as adults, always benefit from not acting rashly, from reflecting on the consequences of their actions.”

FHS is not currently involved with the Pause Before You Post campaign. However, Suchowski said he would be interested in learning more about it to possibly bring it to Fenton.
“People won’t take something like it seriously. They will laugh at it because it’s just another adult trying to tell us what to do,” sophomore Sam Gehm said. “I think a lot of stuff online is taken the wrong way. If you take things personally, just stay off.”

The last presentation given to the student body about bullying was the theater’s production of “Bullycide.”

“The reason ‘Bullycide’ was so effective is because it was kids talking to us,” sophomore Jana Stephenson said. “Authoritative figures don’t work; they didn’t grow up with all the stuff we do, they didn’t experience the same things we are.”

While Patchin and Hinduja urge students that are possibly in a cyber bullying situation to take control of who they are talking to through social media, Pause Before You Post and the ‘THINK’ posters provide a guide for students to use to avoid troublesome situations all together.

“The impact of [students’] posts may be greater/more severe than they might imagine,” Suchowski said. “Growing up and making good decisions is hard enough. Life does not need to be complicated further by posting rude or inappropriate comments about others.”