The increase of cyberbullying – the use e-mail, text messaging, or other technology to bully another person – among teens and others in our society has become such a problem that Santa Monica Police Chief Timothy Jackman asked his department to work with students and staff at Santa Monica High School to create an educational video on the issue.
The result of the collaboration is the 15-minute video “Send and Delete,” which was premiered at Samohi on October 29. The video was written, produced, and directed by students, and was based loosely on an actual Santa Monica incident. The target audience for the video is middle school students.
Lauralee Asch, a member of the Santa Monica Police Department’s Community Relations Crime Prevention unit and one of the producers of the video, told the audience before the premiere, “We hope that ‘Send and Delete’ will open people’s eyes to what is a growing problem.” She then explained that the goal of police crime prevention is “to empower people with education and information so they don’t become victims.”
Chief Jackman noted in his remarks before the premiere that “bullying and cyberbullying are believed to be widespread” but underreported, especially by teens. He also noted that “cyberbullying in particular can cause emotional distress, depression, violence, and suicide” in its victims.
A panel discussion was held after the video was shown. The members of the panel were Dave Rynski, an officer with the Santa Monica Police Department’s Training Division; Sergeant Mark Minor of the Beverly Hills Police Department; cyber crime expert Patty Fitzgerald, a parent and founder of Safety Ever After; and Samohi student Brianna Miller, the star of “Send and Delete.”
Fitzgerald pointed out that kids cyberbully because they feel there is “a sense of anonymity” on computers and cell phones, which makes them feel comfortable in engaging in behavior they wouldn’t normally do in person.
Officer Rynski emphasized that “more people are involved in these incidents so they can cause more trauma to the victim.”
Samohi principal Dr. Hugo Pedroza told the Mirror that the problem is not very prevalent at the high school, and incidents that occur off campus are not part of the school’s jurisdiction. However, “the school does get involved when it impacts instruction.”
The consensus of the panel was that students should report cyberbullying to someone before it escalates into something more dangerous.
Eric Weintraub, the executive producer of the project, told the Mirror that the video is a finalist in the South Bay Film Festival. Weintraub graduated from Samohi earlier this year, and he is currently a film major at California State University, Long Beach.