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New AT&T Film Warns of Cyberbullying Crisis

"Get back in."

These three words led Conrad Roy to get back in his truck and kill himself. Teenager Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the case that has caused many to try to understand the ugly reality of cyberbullying.

AT&T, working with teens at the All American High School Film Festival, is doing its part through a new film. It is a compilation of shorts by high school students who have dealt with the "cyberbullying crisis."

One in Three

When virtually every teenager in America has a cell phone, it is not surprising that they spend an average of three hours a day online. But the film reports some surprising facts about the number who confront cyberbullying.

According to a poll from AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, nearly 50 percent of teens have experienced it. Yet only one in three teens told their parents about it.

The film, "There's a Soul Behind that Screen," reveals things that people don't say face-to-face. That hidden world is part of the reason that cyberbullying can be more hurtful than physical bullying.

Clementi, a violinist and student at Rutgers University in 2010, was a victim of cyberharassment. His roommate secretly recorded him in a gay encounter and broadcast it online. When Clementi discovered it, he jumped off a bridge to his death.

Parental Warning

AT&T advises parents to get involved in their children's social media lives. For example:

  • Talk with children about their online activities and cyberbullying
  • Ask to "friend" or "follow" them on social media to protect them
  • Encourage them to report immediately any cyberbullying
  • Use parental controls to block unwanted calls and texts

Cyberbullying is a crime in many states, and law enforcement may prosecute for related crimes, like stalking and even harassment.

In Carter's case, prosecutors convinced a jury that the 17-year-old committed involuntary manslaughter by persuading her boyfriend with text messages to kill himself.

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