This blog is designed for student conversation, but we welcome
teachers, parents and community members to join the conversation as well!

Monday, February 11, 2013

News Coverage

Thanks to all those who participated! Prize winners will be selected and notified tomorrow. In the meantime, in case you missed it, here is some coverage 14WFIE did about this challenge:

Friday, February 8, 2013


Hard to believe it is Day 5 and our final post is here. First of all, thank you to everyone who has posted! The response has been overwhelming and I thank all of you for sharing your stories and thoughts on these important issues.

Before you read and respond to it please take a moment to do the following:

  1. Make sure that you have responded to all of the other posts if you would like to be entered in the drawing. Postings must be made by Friday evening at midnight in order to count for the drawing.
  2. Make sure that what appears next to your comment is your full name (first and last). If something else appears please sign your last post so we know who you are for the prize drawing!
  3. Check over the other posts you made. Someone may have asked you a question that you could answer and continue the conversation. There is GREAT stuff on every post - go back and take a look.
We will be conducting the prize drawing on Tuesday, February 12th and we will try to notify all winners that day. You can help us out in finding you by including the school you attend on your final post. We will post the winners to the blog once they have been notified!

Thanks again for some fantastic conversation this week. If you have found this experience valuable, or if you want to share something that you learned that is really going to stick with you, share these as comments on this post. We'd love to hear your feedback.

And now.... On to the final challenge....

Day 5 - TALENT

This post written by Jim Derk, Senior Director of Information Technology at United Companies.

When I was a child in school the old joke was “the dog ate my homework.” In today’s digital world, it’s “my thumb drive went through the washing machine.”

We live in a fast-changing world and there is no area changing faster than computers and technology. Parents and teachers expect more and more “digital competence” from students these days and teens rarely fail to deliver. If you ever can’t work something that plugs in, ask a 13-year-old for help.

The best part of the new world is the ease of use.
The first computers, as wonderful as they were, came with clunky operating systems and 1,000 page manuals.

My iPad came with an Apple sticker for my car window.

But as Voltaire (and Spiderman’s uncle Ben) said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” So we have to learn to be good digital citizens. Some key things I have learned over the years in my IT wanderings I hope will leave you with some thoughts:

  • When you create a file, name it in a way you can find it later. A hard drive full of files that are named “aaaaaa.docx” don’t help you much when you need to find something you need. Instead, name your paper about Voltaire “Research paper about Voltaire 2013.docx” Having the topic and the year in the title will greatly speed up your searches.
  • Thumb drives are junk. There’s a reason they cost $5 at the bookstore. Don’t save your two weeks of work to a thumb drive as your only version. Instead, you work on your hard drive and save a COPY on your thumb drive to take to school and amaze your teacher. Keep a copy in both places. If you’re hard core, save another version to your Google Cloud. It’s free and won’t get lost in the laundry.
  • Create folders on your hard drive (right-click and pick NEW) for various topics and create some order in your chaos. All of your documents don’t have to be dumped in MY DOCUMENTS. You can have a 2013 Folder and under that have ENGLISH or even SCHOOL STUFF. 
  • When you hit START on Windows 7, that white box at the bottom left will search your whole hard drive for anything you have on it. So if you think you wrote a paper about the French Revolution but can’t find it, you can type anything in that box and it will find it. (Assuming it’s not only on a thumb drive you left in your locker.)
  • If you drag something to the trash, it’s not deleted until you empty the trash can. (Even then it’s not really deleted to a computer geek, but that’s for another day). So if you need something back, check the trash can.
  • The most important thing you can do is make a back-up version of your most important files and data. I have been a digital hero more than once after I was able to recover priceless photos of weddings and children, tax records and even a doctoral thesis from crashed hard drives. But that process is expensive and hard. Protect yourself and make sure you use an external hard drive or an Internet service to back up your computer files to another location.

Those are just a few of the tips I have picked up in my digital life. What do you do in yours to keep your digital life organized and safe?

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This post is written by Brandi Watson, Community Outreach Program Coordinator for the Albion Fellows Bacon Center and Candice Perry, Executive Director of the Albion Fellows Bacon Center.

The mission of Albion Fellows Bacon Center is to eliminate domestic and sexual violence in our communities through advocacy, education, support services and collaborative partnerships.  So how does this mission relate to the topic of Youth Produced Sexual Images?  Well, in order to understand that relationship we need to look at what this topic is.  This discussion could benefit you if you have had this happen to you or if you have a friend that has had this happen to them.   We are all resources for each other and for many, friends are our first choice for support.

Yesterday we discussed Respect, andwhat some of the consequences are of sharing inappropriate images of yourself via the web or a phone. This discussion was had to hopefully help you realize the seriousness of a decision to take a photograph like this of yourself, but not to leave you feeling stuck if you have already made a decision to do this behavior.  Today we are going to talk about what to do if you or a friend or loved one are in this situation and remind you of some reasons to avoid the behavior in the first place.

Why do you think this behavior happens?  In some cases, you may be responding to peer pressure in a form of cyber bullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend.  After a break up, photos that seemed private get sent around out of revenge. Sometimes sending these photos is impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail.   I have had many teens tell me they were bored and it was something to do, or they were just goofing off with a friend or dating partner and a picture got snapped on a cell phone. Sometimes these pictures are taken without your knowledge.  We saw a local example of that in Henderson, Kentucky when several athletes chose to take a locker room picture of one of their teammates. Bottom line…taking pictures like this is always a bad idea.

The desire to talk and gossip about things like this is so very strong.   Especially at school when there are people around you all day long.   Plus, how many times do we get into disagreements with our friends and choose to do things out of anger that we regret after calming down?   Not only is there the emotional (and reputation) damage that can come from having intimate photos of yourself go to a friend who can become an ex-friend, but these photos can be distributed and archived online for people to search for forever.

After the picture is out there it may lead to bullying. This creates a harsh world for a teen to live in. Oftentimes reaching out for help can be embarrassing.  You may fear that by telling someone what is going on you will be making it worse, or fear getting into trouble. This can lead to feeling like you’re caught in a trap with no way out.  How hard would it be to sit in school knowing that anyone in the room could have looked at this picture of you?

So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?  What advice can you give a friend who comes to you because they have received one of these photographs on their cell phone?

Common Sense Media define four roles that people can play in a cyberbullying situation. These are:

  • target: a person who is the object of an intentional action
  • offender: a person who intentionally commits acts to hurt or damage someone
  • bystander: a person who passively stands by and observes without getting involved
  • upstander: a person who supports and stands up for someone else

Which role would you take? Which role best exemplifies kindness?

Many people want to just delete the image and make it go away, especially after learning about the consequences of having a photo like this. That won’t solve the problem, its taking the role of the bystander and could still land you in trouble. Things we delete from a cell phone or computer don’t go away.  The sender of the photo still has a link to your phone showing that you received the photo.  If the sender of the photo gets in trouble, the police could come knocking on your door looking for an explanation for what you did with the photo they know you received. It’s worth repeating: Deleting things does not make them go away.

So how can we respond to the situation in a better way? How can we be an "upstander?"  These tips from the website represent the most pervasively accepted advice about this situation.

  • If a sexting photo arrives on your phone, first, do not send it to anyone else (that could be considered distribution of child pornography). Second: Talk to a parent or trusted adult. Tell them the full story so they know how to support you. And don’t freak out if that adult decides to talk with the parents of others involved – that could be the best way to keep all of you from getting into serious trouble.
  • If the picture is from a friend or someone you know, then someone needs to talk to that friend so he or she knows sexting is against the law. You’re actually doing the friend a big favor because of the serious trouble that can come if the police get involved.
  • If the photos keep coming, you and a parent might have to speak with your friend’s parents, or the police.

How is responding correctly to someone else's bad choice an act of kindness?
How can avoiding bad choices help us to prevent bullying?
How can you be an "upstander" if you find yourself in a situation of cyberbullying?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This post written by Detective Bryan Brown who is assigned to the Internet Crimes against Children Unit of the Evansville Police Department.  As part of that job he has been sworn in as a federal law enforcement officer and is assigned to the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force.  His primary responsibility is to investigate individuals or groups using the Internet and/or other online technology to sexually exploit children. 

A girl, 13, sent a topless photo of herself to her boyfriend, who was 14.  When they broke up, the boy sent the photo to numerous teens via cell phone and many recipients forwarded the image to others.  The police found out when one recipient told a parent.  By then over 200 students had received the picture.  The police seized over 150 cell phones from students.

How many of you know of a friend or fellow student that could very easily be in this same situation?  Maybe you could find yourself in this situation someday?  Youth produced sexual images are defined as images of minors created by minors that could qualify as child pornography under applicable criminal statutes.

There are several long term effects that a student can endure if they are producing sexual images of themselves and sharing them with others.  We will touch on a few of those problems that can arise and cause very significant long term damage as well as short term damage.

The first issue that we will discuss is the embarrassment factor.  Some of you may know someone who has already gone through this at your school.  The Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office have already investigated several cases involving youth produced sexual images involving students in the Evansville area.  Law enforcement around the country is investigating more and more of these types of incidents.  Imagine the following being sent to every parent/guardian of a student in your school by your principal.  “Unfortunately, I need to inform you that it has come to our attention that some students have recently sent or received inappropriate images of a sexual nature via cell phone”.  This is part of an actual letter sent home by a principal of a middle school in New Jersey.  In this case the students were given a specific deadline to remove the nude photo of a classmate or they would face possible criminal charges.  Given the way everyone communicates via social networks and text messaging today, how long do you think it took for the name of the student in the photo to be circulated?  Or consider this story out of Pennsylvania.  “Two middle school students are among the first to be charged under a new state law that regulates sexting among teens”.   Courts across the country are being asked to step in and help come up with solutions to help stop the growing problem of youth produced sexual images.  The courts and law enforcement can no longer sit by and consider this a school problem only.  I believe we will see more and more courts across the country putting criminal charges in place that deal directly with these youth produced sexual images.

Not only do you have to worry about the embarrassment factor that could come into play when you put yourself in this situation but there are the long term effects also.  Imagine being turned down to the college you’ve always wanted to attend because of a poor choice you made when you took a picture of yourself years earlier.  Or consider being turned down to work at a job that you’ve worked so hard to get all because you decided to take a picture of yourself with no clothes on and send it to your boyfriend or girlfriend and then it got sent to several other people and on and on.  The realities of this situation are that once you take the picture and send it to someone else, you might as well consider it forever memorialized on the Internet.  There is no way of guaranteeing that a picture has been completely removed from the Internet or other digital media devices such as cell phones, etc.

It is very possible that you may take a picture of yourself for the boy or girl that you believe you are in love with today and send it to him or her.  Shortly after that you break up. Then you find out that the same person you thought you were in love with is using the picture you produced to bully you or have others bully you.  In today’s world we don’t have to find the news, it finds us; most of us have heard stories of middle school and high school students being bullied by other students.  Now imagine being bullied not just by words but also by a picture that you produced of yourself that just will not go away no matter whom you tell or what you try to do about it.  Being bullied in the traditional sense is very physically and emotionally draining on anyone and even more so when you add in youth produced sexual images.  Consider the following real life situation and ask yourself if this could happen in your school or with your friends.  “Two high school girls (A & B) got mad at each other.  They had been friends and had access to nude photos of each other.  Girl A showed a nude photo of Girl B to another girl.  Girl B thought the photo had been shown to many people.  To get even, she sent a nude picture of Girl A to several boys.  Several days later, both girls were in the principal’s office, crying and upset.

This leads us to the final area that we will discuss on this issue.  Again, this is not all of the ramifications of producing sexual images of yourself but it is believed that these are some of the biggest problems students are facing today.  Some of you who are older and are engaging in this type of behavior are putting yourself in a position to possibly be blackmailed.  You’re close to graduation and you’ll be entering the workforce soon.  Those of you in middle school are not immune from this.  You’re just not as close to entering the workforce yet.  As mentioned earlier, these images are not going away.  Just because you’ve graduated high school and college does not mean these images are gone and can never be produced again.  Some of you may be looking to go into careers that involve classified information.  You can bet that you’re going to be asked by the potential employer if there is anything in your background that could put you at risk for being a target of blackmail.  With youth produced sexual images of you floating around in cyberspace, how are you going to honestly answer that question?  You have to remember, if it’s a job that your employer is worried about you being a target of blackmail, your most likely going to have to take a polygraph examination.  Now you may say to yourself that you’ll never enter a job like the ones that require polygraph examinations or where you might handle classified information.  You may work really hard and become a CEO of a company or some other type of executive position and end up involved with negotiating business deals.  Not everyone in the business world uses the best business ethics and could easily use an old picture to gain an upper hand in negotiations.  The fact is, whatever career you choose may be put in jeopardy by some inappropriate decisions you made years earlier when you decided to send nude photos of yourself to a boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe even to someone on the Internet that you didn’t know.  

Some of you in relationships are being pressured or asked to produce these kinds of images. Step back and think for a moment and reflect on your relationship and ask yourself if the other person is treating you with respect and love when they ask you to do something that could be extremely damaging if/when discovered.

Imagine all the embarrassment you try to avoid throughout your middle school and high school years all wrapped up in one picture or video.  Is it worth it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This post written by Dirck Stahl and Osman Mufti of the law firm Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders, LLP.

Copyrights, trademarks and patents are types of property that people own.  Because they are the products of a person’s imagination and creativity, they are referred to as “intellectual property”.

People often confuse these three types of intellectual property and use them interchangeably, but it is important to know the differences.

A copyright – often indicated by the mark “©” -- is a form of right that is granted by the Constitution and other laws.  Copyrights protect things people write and create, including both published and unpublished works. These may include written works such as novels, scripts for movies or plays, songs . . . even something we think of as ordinary, like letters from one person to another.  It also protects creations that take other forms, such as computer software, video recordings, movies, photographs, and audio recordings of songs or other sounds.

Unlike copyrights, patents protect inventions. For example, your computer contains many parts and components, most of which were invented by someone.

Trademarks protect phrases, logos or symbols identifying a product or service.  Trademarked logos and slogans often bear a little mark as ® or ™.

A copyright exists immediately when a person creates an original written work.  The law does not require that copyrights be “registered” before it exists, but lawyers highly recommend registering original works with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Registration of a copyright allows an author to sue for copyright infringement.

In general, the law provides the author or owner of a copyright with the exclusive right to reproduce the work, distribute copies of the work, and perform or display the work in public.  As with other types of property, a copyright can be sold or transferred in other ways.  For example, the author might permit another person or company to use the work, with or without limits on specific periods or uses.  Often, selling limited or unlimited rights to a written or recorded work is the main way – if not the only way – that an author, artist, or other copyright owner can make money from the work.  Every time someone reproduces a copyright-protected work without permission, then, it deprives the copyright owner of valuable rights:  the right to control how, when and for what his or her creation is used, the right to be paid for granting permission to use it, and the right to receive credit for having created it.  Sometimes copyright owners give away the right to use their work for free, but that is their choice, and they are still able to control how often, when and in what ways the free use occurs, and they still get credit for their work.

Copyright is an especially important topic when it comes to content you find online.  Because of the amount of content and the types of formats in which it appears online, people have invented many ways to steal that content for their own uses without obtaining permission from the copyright owners.  If you download a movie or song for free on the internet, for example, you may be “pirating” the movie or song, because you don’t have the permission of the owner to do so, and you have deprived him or her of the right and ability to charge you money to do so.  It might not seem like a big problem for just one little movie or song, but imagine the millions – or even billions – of times people obtain the same thing without paying for it, and the amount of money the owner could have collected – but now has lost.  This deprives people of the way they make their living through their creativity and the products of that creativity.  Even worse, some people not only take those products of creativity from the rightful owner, but then also reproduce and sell the product as if it were their own!

In some instances, the law allows us to use a copyright-protected work for specific things without first obtaining permission from the owner – this is called “fair use.”  But those cases are the exception, not the rule, and are often limited to situations where the user has already paid for a copy of the work.

Copyrights serve an important purpose in society by promoting creativity and the production of literature, art, and other content that contains valuable ideas and information.  We want others to be able to use the things creative people produce, but we must be sure that the owner’s rights are protected, that credit is given, and that the owner receives compensation for the value of the work.

Understanding the protections copyright law provides will foster a greater appreciation and respect for literary and artistic work you may encounter online and make you a “good digital citizen”.

How do you think you would you feel if someone used your creative work? Would it make a difference whether they did the following:

  • Asked your permission to use it?
  • Gave you credit as the creator?
  • Changed the picture or added a caption without asking you?

What do you think it means to use someone else’s creative work responsibly? Does it matter how and where you use it?

Monday, February 4, 2013


This post written by Dana Nelson, Founding Member and Board of Directors Member of the National Social Media Club.

You’re finally old enough and or your parents let you have a Facebook account. Now you face the biggest challenge of your character. This challenge before you has the potential to haunt you for years to come. But it's more than you being wise enough to post responsibly. Even kids who think they are being good online are at risk.

Everything online stays online; even if you erase it.

What you say and what is said about you can impact you in so many ways, not just the "bad" stuff. Online there are digital predators who take information that seems harmless and can infer information about you. That alone can put you at risk.

But let’s face it; you have a phone, Internet access and a need to be connected to your friends and peers.  What you do with that camera, can make or break your future.

“But I’m gonna clean it up before I go get a job.”

Yes you should do that. You should also Google yourself. Those pictures you erased might still be out there for years to come, with your name attached to it.

“I have good grades; my Facebook won’t affect me getting into college.”

I know of a student who lost a full ride scholarship because of a 30 second YouTube video he did in middle school. 30 seconds. That’s all it took to break him.

“I have my privacy settings locked down.”

Even so Facebook is notorious for changing privacy. One day you’re locked down the next your photos are available for others to use in ads. (← that really happened!)   Nothing is stopping your friends from saving the photos and information you post in a stupid moment and using them against you.

Need more?

Listen, I know it’s not fun to think about growing up and being serious, but this is serious. It’s serious now, and it will be serious later. I have a client who came to me last year. He had a friend in high school who got mad at him. That friend made a website about this gentleman. Now if you search his name, you get this website with photos saved from old Facebook pictures. I know that doesn’t seem fair, but life isn’t fair.

Do more

At the same time, you can use your digital footprint for good. Post pics of you helping at the Tri-State Food Bank, or raising money for a fellow student with cancer. Help share information about community or school events.

So what could you do? How can you take your social media and use it for good?

Be creative and share your ideas here to inspire others. Then, go do it. You can make a difference.

About the Challenge

Are YOU, a digital hero? Do you have what it takes to survive in the 21st century world of always present technology? If you think you are up to a test of your skills then you are in the right spot!

Starting on February 4th a series of posts will appear at this address, five in all. Each will discuss an essential characteristic of Digital Heroism... Character, Originality, Kindness, Respect, and Talent.

Your mission, should you truly be a Digital Hero, is to respond to each posting with an intelligent comment sharing your thoughts on each trait, asking a question of the blogger, or sharing your personal experience with the topic. Comments will be screened before going live on the blog.

Should you successfully complete your postings for all five challenges you will earn the title "Digital Hero" and will be entered into a prize drawing. Prizes include HD Flip Cameras and iTunes Gift Cards and will be distributed the week following the challenge. Prizes can only be awarded to those who use their true identity on all of their posts, so be sure we know your true identity. (Feel free to include a catchy superhero name if you want!)
So how do I get started, you ask? Before you can participate you must join this blog using your EVSC Gmail account. Be sure we are able to easily know who you are - this is why we recommend using your EVSC Gmail. Then, wait until your first hero trait posts early on the morning of February 4th!