By Heather Lusk
The 290 students at University High School were quiet, listening carefully to Carrie Goldman discuss digital citizenship and bullying.
Goldman, the author of “Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear,” asked the students to “think about the intersection of funny and mean.”
“The truth is a lot of funny stuff is mean, a lot of mean stuff is funny. Many things that are rooted in funny are mean,” said Goldman, citing late-night television as an example.
While removing technology is sometimes perceived as an answer, “we should instead teach you to be good digital citizens,” Goldman said to students.
“You still do far more amazing things online than negative things online,” she told the crowd, such as signing petitions, writing encouraging notes online or helping to raise money.
To reduce cyberbullying, Goldman suggested checking privacy settings on social media, think before posting, never post mean messages, turn off location-based services and not spending the day online.
She also encouraged the students to trust their parents or other adults.
“When you get into a mess it is always better to come to an adult and ask for help than to keep silent,” she said. “Your situation will never be made worse by asking for help.”
The idea for her book began when her daughter brought a Star Wars backpack and lunchbox to her first grade class and was chided by other students for liking something they felt was for boys.
Goldman’s presentation was altered slightly for parents on Nov. 9, mentioning who is at risk and why and actions to take to help a bullied child.
This is the first time University High School has held this type of series with a goal of hosting one per semester.
“It occurred to us we could be a community resource, even for people who don’t send their child here,” said Nancy Webster, director of admissions at the school.