Social Networking: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Social networking has become an inseparable aspect of modern life. It provides an interactive platform to the people sharing common interests, and to promote goods and services. Some of the famous social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook, Orkut, Tumblr, Picasa, BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp, and Yahoo! Messenger, etc. have helped many in staying in touch with their loved ones. SNSs have also widened the horizon of e-marketing with social media tools like YouTube, LinkedIn and many more.

Mobile internet and latest hand devices like tablets and smart phones have made it easier for us to stay connected with our virtual world. Every year, India adds a new figure to the ever growing audiences of the SNSs. The trend of social networking has noticeably picked up pace among the youth. Depending upon the types of usage, the social networking may leave a good or a bad effect on the users. Young minds are vulnerable to fall into the traps of cybercrime because of lack of awareness and peer pressure. Let’s have a look how the SNSs affect young minds in both the good and the bad ways:

Why Social Networking is good for the Growing Minds?

Intelligent, smart and constructive use of the SNSs can help in learning about the new things and in gaining information about the latest happenings of the world. Globalization and escalating competition in the education sector has pushed the students to gain all-round knowledge. Various online communities and forums can help the students, of different backgrounds, in exchanging their views about current topics or on any topic of their choice.

The SNSs and the social media tools are helpful in connecting to the world. By logging on to your favourite SNSs you can know, within a few seconds, about the happenings of the world. For example, at the time of the devastating hurricane Sandy many Facebook pages and online pages were formed discussing havoc instigated by the hurricane, in the US. Similarly, SNSs have also contributed in bringing awareness about social causes like cancer awareness campaigns, organ donations and fund collections for a noble cause. Lately, a number of online campaigns were run in the support of Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption in which youth deliberately took part. In short, the SNSs are helpful in empowering the young minds by making them aware about the emerging issues.

How Social Networking can be bad for the Youth?

Just like a coin, social networking also has two facets – good and bad. Although SNSs can prove really helpful in empowering the minds of the youth, it can prove terrible for the others if not used in a right way. As we grow up, we go through various phases of life. Adolescence is one such stage in our life when we get angry over tertiary issues and are overwhelmed by a small gesture of warmth and love of our friends. Sometimes the adolescents on the SNSs handle certain situations in the cyber world callously and ultimately fall into the traps of cyber crimes, without even knowing the consequences of certain online activities.

Many online communities are free to use with a few flexible conditions like the minimum age limit of 18 -years. The authenticity of the information thus provided by the users is not thoroughly checked by the organisations concerned. This results in fake accounts and multiple accounts of a single user. Fake accounts of celebrities are also formed that directly or indirectly affect their reputation.

Many users of SNSs spend much time on the internet in incognito mode, stalking the personal activities of their friends and classmates. Stalking is considered a cyber crime and is punishable by law. The risk of identity theft also prevails as strangers added to your friend list can browse your personal information and use it for their personal benefits.

Recently, AVG Technologies, a global leader in security software, brought into the light the fact that pre-teens are writing malware designed to steal login details of the users of online gaming communities. Today’s digitally fluent generation is swifter in understanding the usage of smart phones, tablets and laptops as compared to the previous generations. An increase in the cases of mobile threat, email threat and online abuse are the result of too much exposure to the internet. These young minds don’t even fear the prospect of going to jail. In fact, they regard themselves as the Che Guevaras of cyber space. If the wrongful online activities of the youth are not corrected at the right time then it could lead to worse consequences, later on.

The Ugly Side of Social Networking:

There is an immediate need to make the youth understand the gravity of the consequences of using inappropriate language on SNSs. Abusing and stalking someone is a crime. When someone is found guilty of using abusive language for someone online then he or she may be prosecuted under cyber crime law in India. Several incidences have taken place in cities like Chandigarh and Mumbai when people have been sued for uploading inappropriate pictures of their female friends on the SNSs. In most of the cases the cause behind such behaviour is jealousy and enmity with the victim. Many youngsters are using dating sites for exchanging personal photographs and details, which in return could lead to embarrassing situations in future.

During an investigation, by ‘The Times’, a British national newspaper, it came to light that many prostitutes and sex agencies are using social networking tools to lure new customers. Students are vulnerable to fall into their trap and can easily become the victim of sexual abuse and harassment. Such incidents can leave the victim emotionally traumatic for years.

Protecting Children from Wrongful Cyber Activities

Interference of parents in the virtual world of the teens can prevent them from falling into the wrong cyber activities. An open discussion on the safety and security concerns of the SNSs could prove helpful. Social networking in one or the other way has brought a gap between children and their parents. Spending quality time with family could help in bridging the growing digital gap between children and parents.

The Abortion Debate in Jamaica

Abortion is a felony crime in Jamaica. The 1864 Offenses Against Persons Act renders steep penalties for obtaining or attending an abortion. In Jamaica, abortions are only legal in order to save the life of the mother, or to preserve her physical and/or mental health. According to the 1864 Act, abortions are not legal in cases of rape, incest, impairment of the fetus, and especially not simply because the pregnancy is unplanned, unwanted, or inconvenient, however, common law will allow abortion in cases of rape, incest and fetal abnormality even though both the woman and the abortion practitioner can be jailed for the abortion itself. The law on the books and the common application of the law are extremely contradictory. Anyone found guilty of self-inducing an abortion, or assisting someone in getting an abortion may be subject to life in prison. Even with penalties this steep, Jamaican women are risking imprisonment and sometimes even death in order to end an unwanted pregnancy.

The Medical Association of Jamaica reports that, in 2004, the third leading cause of maternal death was abortion and, that, despite the current laws against abortion, it was committed to making sure that all women, who chose to do so, had access to safe and properly performed abortions. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 19 million illegal abortions are performed around the world each year and that those abortions are often performed under conditions that are not sterile and are performed by unlicensed practitioners.

Teen pregnancy rates are at an all time high in Jamaica and, even though teenage girls have been offered the option of the abortion pill, they still continue to seek illegal abortions. By the age of 19, a full 45 percent of Jamaican women have been pregnant. As an added complication, the rate of HIV and AIDS is on the rise in Jamaica due to the number of young women resorting to prostitution in order to pay for an abortion. Women’s groups are currently discussing their own positions on abortion. Most are pro-choice, but others seem reluctant to go public with a firm stance.

In the United States, Roe vs. Wade decided the abortion issue in legal terms. This is not to say that abortion does not remain a heated debate in this country and many others. Ultimately, Jamaica will have to pass a firm law that defines abortion and the access to abortion services for that country’s women. Either way that decision goes will elicit debate and possible violence.

Taking a Bite Out of Crime While Putting Police Back in Position – Drug Seizure Money

Policing agencies have always used criminal seizures such as money, vehicles, and property to pay parts of their budget or buy new equipment, but now maybe the desire to make those busts may have an added incentive. In fact, several law-enforcement agencies has been taking drug monies and shoring up their budgets, which have been drastically cut due to lower tax revenues, and government shortfalls. Yes, the economy has taken its toll on our police agencies in a big way.

Now then, getting the drugs isn’t as good as getting the money and assets of these drug gangs, dealers, and over-the-border drug cartels. The money collected in a big bust might just prevent them from losing their jobs, which is what definitely happens to the drug cartel gang members who are caught, as they are cuffed-and-stuffed and moved to a local gated community if you know what I mean?

According to the DEA official newsletter their recent “Operation Four Horsemen” apparently resulted in 8 million dollars in drug money seizures, which will now go back into the operational funds of local Atlanta law enforcement agencies – five agencies in all. This in part will occur thanks to the DEA and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program. The recent press release states;

“This investigation further reveals that the greater Atlanta area has become the hub of operations for Mexican cartel groups who seek to destroy lives by distributing a multitude of illegal drugs in the Eastern United States,” and now “the seizure of large sums of U.S. currency from this organization severely disrupted its operations.”

An agency insider told the news gathering; “Today’s sharing of these forfeited funds are a direct result of the great working relationship that DEA continues to have with its federal, state and local counterparts.” And these quotes were displayed on the agency website. So, let’s discuss all this shall we?

Is this a correct use of these funds? Most would agree that it is, and yet, what about other costs associated with the drugs; publicly funded rehabs, court system, drug awareness, etc. If the police catch the bad guys before they distribute they only get the drugs, and not the money, but if they wait until they distribute there is harm done to the community. Addicted teens, violence, and theft to pay for the drugs by those addicted who steal to get the money. See that point.

Realize this article is only to make you think. Since I live in a safe neighborhood, and we don’t have such problems, I am unaffected, but intellectually intrigued by the unnoticed ethical implications of all of this. Please consider it.

Drunk Driving – Myths, Facts, and Breaking the Law

Although most people don’t realize it, alcohol is a drug. In fact, alcohol is the most commonly found drug in fatally injured motorists. While it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages, many teenagers still do. This becomes even more of a problem when a drinking teen gets behind the wheel. Alcohol education programs have increased in homes, schools, and communities; but alcohol-related collisions are still a major issue. Not only is a drunk driver endangering their own life, but they are putting all the other drivers on the Highway Transit System in jeopardy. It is important to never mix drinking with driving.

Alcohol is derived from the fermentation of fruit, alcohol, and other plants. It is classified as a depressant, a drug that slows down the central nervous system. The effects of alcohol vary from person to person, but everyone is affected to some degree. As a motorist you cannot afford to have your driving skills dulled by alcohol. Some common impairments include: slowed reflexes, lost inhibitions, slurred speech, clumsiness or loss of balance, blurred vision, a decrease in muscle coordination, and distorted depth perception. Drinking alcohol is not something to take lightly.

Alcohol is surrounded by many myths. Some of them deal with how long it takes a drunk person to “sober up.” You may have heard that drinking some black coffee, going for a quick jog, or taking a cold shower will reduce your blood-alcohol concentration. The truth is: These activities may stimulate you for a moment; but do absolutely nothing to reduce the amount of alcohol in your body. Only time will allow your liver to get rid of alcohol. (Up to 1.5 hours for a 12 ounce beer.) While many factors such as the number of drinks consumed, the amount of time they are consumed in, a person’s body weight, and their natural resistance to alcohol will affect how rapidly a person gets drunk, it takes the same amount of time for alcohol to work its way through your system.

Driving drunk is a crime that’s punishable by law. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence), or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in some states, carries severe penalties. These punishments can include: suspension or revocation of the offending motorist’s license, payment of a fine, or even serving a prison term. (Although, penalties are harsher if the intoxicated driver is involved in a collision.) Driving after drinking is always a bad idea. If your friend is considering drinking, you have some responsibilities as a good friend.

You can help by: encouraging them to drink something non-alcoholic, telling them to set limits, convincing them to avoid drinks with high alcoholic concentration, or just doing something else. If they’ve already had a drink, help them by making them aware of their behaviors, providing them with transportation home, or staying with them until the alcohol has worked its way through their system. Remember: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

Child Curfew Laws

Curfew laws restrict the right of youngsters (usually under 18) to be outdoors, in the streets or public places during certain hours of the day. Children are required to be at home or an authorized place between a set hour in the evening until a designated time the following morning. Most often youth curfew laws allow for minors to be in public places for an extended time on Friday and Saturday nights. There are certain communities that relax curfew laws in the summer months when schools are closed for break. Others take a different approach and impose more severe time restrictions when children are on vacation or break.

The implementation of laws governing child curfews in the United States of America is a matter of what is known as the police power of the individual states. The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to enforce any kind of national curfew, and this includes child curfew, except in the event of a national emergency. Juvenile curfews have been imposed by state, country, city and township authorities.

Local laws dictate that parents are responsible for the administration and transportation costs of returning a minor to his or her home on a second curfew violation. A child who is a frequent offender of the curfew may be declared a ward of the court and be treated as a status offender. Most curfew laws prohibit minors from being out past 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. There are certain exceptions to the law, however, which allow kids to legally stay out late if they are:

· Running an errand for a parent or guardian

· Participating in a religious, educational or political activity

· Accompanied by a parent, guardian or another adult

· Working or going to or returning from their place of employment

· Returning home from a school, cultural or recreational activity

· Responding to some emergency

What happens when the curfew is broken?

When a child breaks the curfew, he or she could be temporarily detained by the police and then returned home. The State Law also gives the local police officers some flexibility in their enforcement of such curfew laws – if the officer believes the youth has a “legitimate reason based on extenuating circumstances” for the breach. Some of the other penalties for breaking the curfew are:

· Fines (gradually increases for subsequent violations)

· Restrictions of driver’s license privileges

· Possible detention in jail or juvenile hall

· Imposition of community service or compulsory enrollment in after-school programs

Crime against the youth

The primary concern of every parent and the community is obviously keeping children safe and protected. The main objective of implementing juvenile or child curfew is to safeguard the well-being and welfare of children. With the steady rise of crime rates against the youth, the underlying rationale of community members is that children are much safer when they are at home and not outside after a certain time in the evening.

Delinquency by the youth

The second objective is to protect the community as a whole from the miscreant conduct of certain children who are inclined to break the law. Crimes committed by the youth are a major problem in all big cities today. Restricting the presence of unsupervised children from public venues after a curfew each night will reduce the number of children and teens that end up involved in criminal activity and break the law.

Gang violence control

Law enforcement officers maintain that juvenile curfew laws provide them with another weapon in their battle against gang violence. It can be hard to gather substantial evidence to arrest members of a gang, but a violation of curfew law will at least provide officers a chance to interrupt their presence on the streets of a community.

There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to child curfew laws. Children have the right to be at the homes of their peers after the curfew, provided there is an adult present at the residence and the children are transported from home to home by an adult. Even organized community events that have adult supervision are also permissible during child curfew hours.

Since child curfew laws vary by locality and government enforcement, it can depend on a number of factors. If you would like to know more about the curfew laws in your community, you could get in touch with your local police department. If your community does not have a curfew, be sure to obtain a list of the laws and a list of the exceptions and exceptional circumstances. Please feel free to express your views on the subject by dropping us a comment below.