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Can Cyber-Bullying Be in the Eyes of the Beholder?

Among the problems texting can create among teens is misinterpretation. Weston High School freshman Alana McDonald says it’s possible a text can be misread as bullying when that was not the sender’s intention. The issues associated with texting will be the subject of a forum next week sponsored by the Domestic Violence Task Force of Weston and Wilton.

Another problem, according to Weston freshman Selena Lauria, is that texting can lead to a person presenting themselves differently than they do in person. "I think people can act differently behind a phone," Lauria says.

The program, titled "Technology -- Friend & Foe: Tips for Teens & Parents," will take place Wednesday, April 27. It is being presented by Weston and Wilton task force, along with other towns.

In Weston, as in many other communities, such issues as relationship abuses can be exacerbated by the nature of mobile and online communications, said Marcia Hamelin of the Weston Task Force.

A presentation in December 2009, "Hit Me on My Cell," sparked conversations about technology among teens.

According to a 2009 non-scientific, self-reporting survey during a Weston health class, "Approximately 35 percent of the class reported experiencing some type of abusive behavior -- emotional or physical -- with the most common behaviors reported being: excessive texting and calling, continually going through a partner's cell phone or other personal belongings, checking up on whereabouts and who's there, pressuring for sexual activity," said Hamelin.

One male sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, said one of his friendships with a female ended because of texting.

"I was hanging out with a girl who has a boyfriend and we were texting. Her boyfriend would read her texts ... so we're no longer friends," he said.

The April 27 program will be at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan. "The program will explore the current situation in area schools, through questions and discussion with area students and educators, and will also examine strategies for adults and students who are faced with these problems: where to find help, the importance of seeking help and not remaining silent, legal options, etc.," Hamelin said.

Has texting ruined one of your relationships? Do you think texting is a positive thing? Send your comments to shenry@mainstreetconnect.us.

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