A year ago, the following statement designated as being from the parent of Jessica Logan was published discussing the Jessica Logan Act recently passed by Ohio Governor John Kasich:
“My daughter’s photo was stolen off of her cell phone. I have the incident report that proves this fact. It was not allowed in our court case. It is such a shame our attorneys, and the kids who my daughter called friends lied to cover their friends that were involved in tormenting my child. My dead child’s reputation has been damaged. I was spoon fed lies and I have contacted the very people who wrote my daughter’s story to help me get the true story about my daughter out to the media. No one is interested in the truth. LIES sell stories. I love you so much, Jessica. I am so sorry I listened to the very people I thought were your friends. You told me things our attorneys dismissed, but took the teenager’s word as gospel. Until we meet again, my precious girl.”
Jessica’s Attempt to Survive
The television broadcast blurred her image and altered her voice but the words spoken by a beautiful Ohio teenage girl were stunning. She had sent nude pictures of herself to her high school boyfriend. After they broke up, he sent them across the internet to other high school girls, who were now harassing the petite blonde mercilessly, calling her vulgar names and more. She was miserable and afraid to go to school.
And now Jessica (Jesse) Logan was going on a Cincinnati television station to tell her story. “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this again.”
The interview was in May 2008. Two months afterward, Jessica was dead. She had committed suicide in her bedroom. She was 18, a vivacious blonde, compassionate, artistic, sweet natured and the only child of Cynthia Logan.
Sexting of revealing photos among teens is a growing problem that has resulted in child pornography charges being filed across the nation. To mother Cynthia Logan, “sexting” is about more than raunchy activity: It’s about life and death.
Whether Jessica had willingly shared the photos with her former boyfriend or if he had stolen them off her phone, the primary problem of the photos existence on a cell phone rise to the front.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy researched teens and young adults about sexting, sending sexual material via cell phones or posting them online. The report revealed that 39 percent of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48 percent acknowledged receiving sex messages.
Jesse Logan’s mother never knew the full extent of her daughter’s anguish until it was too late. Cynthia Logan only learned of a problem at all when she started getting letters from school reporting that her daughter was skipping school.
The confused mother took away her daughter’s car and drove her to school herself, but Jesse still skipped classes. She told her mother there were pictures involved and a group of younger girls had received them and were harassing her, calling her vicious names and even throwing harmful objects at her. Unfortunately, the mother didn’t realize the full extent of her daughter’s despair.
“She was being attacked and tortured,” Logan said.
Jessica Logan Act
The following dissertation reveals the rest of the story following Jessica Logan’s suicide because of hateful bullying attacks from her peers and classmates, who instead of rallying around her, gathered in a mass assault of cyber bullying.
The State of Ohio’s anti-bullying laws go too far, or not far enough, depending entirely upon whom you ask. In 2013 Governor John Kasich signed the Jessica Logan Act into law. Young Jessica Logan was a Cincinnati teenage girl who tragically killed herself after attacks against her of malicious cyber bullying. The Jessica Logan Act is actually trying to be a big step to expand those policies already online about cyber misbehavior. Facebook and Twitter is where a lot of bullying takes place these days, according to Ohio University assistant professor and cyber-bullying expert, Christine Bhat. An earlier MTV and the Associated Press formal study found 56 percent of youth experience cyber bullying at some point in time. Professor Bhat says schools have been reluctant to fight bullying online.
“In the past there’s often been resistance in dealing with the issue, thinking that if cyber-bullying is taking place in the home then it’s not really the school’s problem,” Bhat says. “But I think in recent years that thinking has changed as schools have realized that it doesn’t matter where it’s taking place if their students are involved, then it becomes difficult for students to learn when there are these undercurrents going on.”
An earlier anti-bullying law mandates that schools write their own anti-bullying policies but it is impotent regarding any real enforcement. While the Jessica Logan Act redefines bullying to include cyber-bullying, it still does not ensure schools do more than just update old policies that were always ineffective.
Professor Bhat applauds expansion of Ohio’s anti-bullying efforts to the Internet, but says it’s still reactive, trying to reduce incidents of bullying, instead of being proactive and going after the perpetrators. Reactive policies eventually punish bullies, but do not remove the general bullying culture itself.
“I think that we need to be improved in creating communities where people care for each other better and where students learn skills such as empathy and social connectedness because I think that is what is going away as people become more and more immersed in technology,” says Professor Bhat.
There was a time in the not too distant past, and not in a land far away but here in our nation, when a story such as the one of Jessica Logan former boyfriend’s malicious behavior would have caused her to be surrounded by good friends and supporters encouraging her and ostracizing the perpetrator. Unfortunately, society itself is as much to blame for today’s lack of sensitivity and students caring for each other. We need to be examples for our young, and models for their behavior.
Why Victims Are Silent
The study helps us understand why targets and bystanders are reluctant to ask parents for help. Exposing the bullying means admitting the fact of your vulnerability and that your friends either don’t like you or you made poor choices in friends. Worse, if parents respond by saying, “Just get new friends,” the target feels parents don’t understand him and vows to never ask for help again.
For classmates and peers, things are just as tricky, because when someone is bullied, the common reaction is keeping your mouth shut or even joining in because you don’t want to risk being humiliated or shut out as well.
Parents and Teacher Partners
As adults, it is our duty to ingrain in our youth that things should be “worked out” so that everyone maintains his or her own dignity. Dignity is lacking for both the perpetrator and the victim in bullying. Adults should take all means to not reinforce children’s belief that adults are useless to help them, or worse, even endorse the bullies’ behavior!
Bhat also emphatically suggests schools partner with parents in prevention of bullying, and parents should be very explicit with their teens about how to properly and legally use technology. She admonished that parents give teens cell phones and computers without teaching them anything about cause and effect or proper internet behavior.
From the Other Corner
Taking the opposite view, Dennis Leone, a retired Ohio school superintendent of 23 years and an assistant professor as Ashland University, is concerned about the expanding definition of school prevention of bullying. Leone maintains it is “way out of bounds” to ask schools to police students’ online behavior 24/7, just as it would be ridiculous to ask schools to ensure their students act appropriately on Saturday night in the mall. Leone is also objecting to the fact that schools would be mandated to deal with “dating violence”, which the Jessica Logan Act includes as an act of bullying. He stresses these new laws put schools at lawsuit risk. Supporters of the stricter anti-bullying regulations that are being passed today say lawsuits may not be such a bad thing, if fear of lawsuits encourages schools to be proactive in preventing bullying.
CNN Study – Anderson Cooper Broadcast Bullying: It Stops Here
CNN’s Anderson Cooper had a very insightful special report “Bullying: It Stops Here,” In October, 2013, which featured earth shaking research that truly shows bullying at its core. The results challenge the conventional attitude that has done little to effectively address the problem of bullying. CNN commissioned University of California sociologists Dr. Robert Faris and Dr. Diane Felmlee to conduct the study examining dynamics and causes of bullying. Theirs is one of the most important and nuanced studies ever conducted on bullying and aggression, and available online for every educator and parent to read or view the videos.
A Change in Perception
The findings overturn how we perceive aggressors and victims, and whom we blame. Bullies don’t have to be disturbed or come from bad families. They look like any normal kid, which is why it is hard for parents and educators to acknowledge bullying. The way kids go after each other is universal. They humiliate based on personal opinion of the victim’s family, life style or appearance. Bullying consequences are isolation, anxiety and low self-esteem, all resulting in despair.