Streams

Sexual Cyberbullying: The Modern Day Letter A

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rookie Reporter Temitayo Fagbenle

These days, many teenagers live half their lives on social media sites, and they're writing the rules as they go. One online trend 16-year-old Radio Rookie Temitayo Fagbenle finds disturbing is something she calls "slut-shaming," or using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life inside out.

There are countless websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles that are created to shame girls online, many are literally called "exposing hos." When Temitayo logs in to Facebook her newsfeed is often inundated with sexually explicit photos and videos of other teenage girls that are posted, commented on, and shared countless times by her peers. Once these images make it online the repercussions can haunt a girl far beyond the schoolyard. 

"Once it gets to a social media network it’s over for her life," one of Temitayo's classmates said. She gathered a group of girls from her school to talk about why so many teenagers, especially girls, harass each other online. "Girls do it to themselves," another girl explained, "half the time we can’t even blame guys." 

But another student pointed out that a lot of girls don't even know they're being recorded. She said, "it’s not fair that a guy can actually hide his phone, have sex with you and record you, and then show it to his friends, like, 'Yo, look, look, look!'" 

That nightmare scenario was a reality for another one of Temitayo's classmates. When the young girl was only 14, her boyfriend filmed a sexually explicit video of her without her knowledge and then posted it on Facebook and other social media sites. "He was going around holding his head high saying, “'Oh well, I was able to do this with her.' He gave me a bad name," the girl said.

Schools have had to take on a new role in the age of social media.

Some students screenshot the cyberbullying they see online, print it out and bring it to their teachers as evidence. Erica Doyle, the Assistant Principal at Temitayo's school said, "Once we’re dealing with digital media that is sexually explicit that has been captured and shared with the public, that actually now is a criminal matter."

One of Temitayo's male friends was arrested in the 8th grade for emailing a topless picture of his girlfriend to hundreds of students at their middle school. Temitayo asked him if he did it out of malice, but he brushed the question off and said he just thought it would be cool. "I regret doing it to her but still, I didn’t have to go to jail. Porn websites do it everyday."

 

On Tuesday, January 8th, Radio Rookies will facilitate an online live chat with students from classrooms around the country to talk about the cyberbullying issues this story brings to light, including:

  • The atmosphere of judgement and criticism associated with photo sharing and commenting on social network sites, and the double standard that applies to boys and girls
  • Strategies for controlling your online reputation and what teens can do to clean up their digital footprint
  • The repercussions of sexual cyberbullying both in school and in the courts
  • What can teenagers, educators, policy makers and social media sites can do to help stop cyberbullying

Temitayo will host the chat with Radio Rookies producers facilitating the discussion and moderating comments.

If you’re interested in taking part in the live chat or have questions, please contact Radio Rookies Associate Producer, Courtney Stein: cstein@wnyc.org

Produced by:

Courtney Stein

Editors:

Marianne McCune

Contributors:

Temitayo Fagbenle

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Comments [28]

Morgan Shae Pratt from Logan, Utah

Temitayo Fagbenle,

What a woman! We need more reporters like you in this world. This is journalism at it's finest. Thank you for making this piece and making it so well. I hope the rest of your journalistic endeavors are amazing because you deserve it!!

Feb. 28 2014 08:21 PM
Suzanne from Long Island, NY

What an excellent example of journalism. An important issue, covered with sensitivity and depth. Ms. Fagbenle is a role model for other reporters.

Sep. 21 2013 07:01 PM
sara from california

Its more than cyber bullying it, it is online stalking. Sites like Yougotposted, owned by Kevin Bollaert , Cody, and Eric S. Chanson, use their sites to stalk women. Its really creepy how they find a pretty face on social networks like pinterest, facebook, and tumblr and stalk them, hacking into their email.s, private messages and steal any pictures they can find on them. They stalk them for personal information and post their full name and city and state next to their nude pictures . It is so gross.

Aug. 29 2013 12:47 PM
Lynn from California

Temitayo, Excellent story! Professional quality! I hope that many, many young people hear your story and think about what they can do about this serious issue. Props to you and I hope you consider writing and recording more stories about serious issues such as this one.

Apr. 01 2013 10:20 PM

Maybe this will lead to young ladies telling these young men not just "NO" but "No way, never, get outa here!" when they start asking for sexual favors. Or implying that they ought to be getting those favors. After all, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and if it's telling a young man that he doesn't have a right to her body, her mind, her agency, or her reputation, that's what she has to do. That is true freedom.

Feb. 02 2013 09:22 PM
Matthew Sisson from Boston

Heard you on On Point. You and your
reporting were great. NPR look out!!

Jan. 30 2013 09:48 PM
Ann C. from ny

While I admire the young reporter's skill and have sympathy for those who were harmed I can't believe that anyone is surprised by this. Social media has made privacy a quaint value from another time and humilation seems the more or less inevitable consequence.

Jan. 29 2013 02:53 PM
Nikki from Wisconsin from Wisc

Thank you for your thought-provoking piece. Truly enjoy hearing and seeing great things from the young. Keep pushing and asking the right questions of society. Continue to use your power as a radio reporter to enlighten the world around you. Excellent work!

Jan. 28 2013 09:40 PM
Naomi Mastico from Amherst, MA

I just wanted to applaud Temitayo Fagbenle for her incredible work. She is incredibly mature and talented! I heard her story on WBUR's On Point this morning; I hope to hear her on NPR with her own show someday!

Jan. 28 2013 01:31 PM
Julia Campbell from Beverly, MA

As a mother of a daughter and an active feminist, I applaud this report. It is a tough and controversial topic, but this report brings the dark underbelly of the internet to light. We need to hold these perpetrators accountable instead of saying "well, she was wearing that" or "she was there in the first place" - STOP BLAMING THE VICTIMS. Start blaming the criminals. Fantastic journalism.

Jan. 28 2013 11:50 AM
Gin Ferrara

Excellent reporting of a very challenging subject. Those of us who support young people don't always get to hear such a frank discussion. As an aside, I've known of photos on FB that have been taken down for much less, and am shocked that a direct request was ignored. Of course, as you mention, the photos are always there once they've been taken.

Jan. 28 2013 11:41 AM
E.A. from Milwaukee

Just heard you on BBC newshour! Congratulations on a beautifully told story. This is raw and important. Thank you.

Jan. 23 2013 03:51 PM
Carol Finkle from Philadelphia, PA

I am a seventy year old Jewish grandmother in Philadelphia. I can't (sadly) say that I was surprised by listening to your story on BBC this morning (WHYY, NPR Philadelphia 90.0) but I was very pleased to learn about Radio Rookies and that it was a clear, insightful young women doing the reporting. Her sensitivity came through; her voice was non judgmental while at the same time asking the most relevant questions and interviewing the right people (E,g. the young man who put up a photo of his girlfriend etc.) Just terrific and I will pass it on to my children....who have soon-to-be teens.

Jan. 23 2013 12:39 PM
Frances

I just heard you on WBEZ, Chicago. Thank you for your candor and the ability to report
this subject honestly. Your reports sets a fire that creates positive action as opposed to the sensational journalism that creates discord. That is the name of the game create awareness with your jounalism , tell the story to
touch consciousness. You shame every adult journalist who has lost that vision. Write on!!

Jan. 23 2013 11:38 AM
Rickey from Grand Rapids, Michigan

Great story, Temitayo! One of the most effective things we can do to stop social problems like this is exposing them; getting them out there into the spotlight. Talking about this issue seems especially important to people your age and younger. Social media is great in so many ways, but having it be an integral part of one's social life all throughout school/adolescence is a choppy ocean I'm sure glad I never had to navigate. When I look at my generation (really the first "personal computers [and then internet] from the beginning" generation) compared to previous generations, it's pretty astounding to see some of the differences in how we (generally speaking) see, think of, and use that technology; how we integrate it into our lives so much more intimately. As I try to picture myself in your shoes, that generation gap is the closest thing I can think of to the unique situation with social media that you and your contemporaries face. Anyway, thanks for doing your part to solve the shaming problem, and good luck with your blossoming radio career!

Jan. 23 2013 09:59 AM
Leah Bird from Boston

Wow, you're not a rookie, Ms. Fagbenle, you're a pro as far as I'm concerned. Your questions, your honest reactions, your pushing back on your interviewee was worthy of any prime time radio interview--reminded me of Robin Lustig, the BBC reporter! As a 50-something mom, I had no idea things had gotten so bad for girls who are comfortable, as you say, expressing their sexuality. I think the sad point here is that there's still a terrible double standard for girls... they're led in the direction of hyper-sexuality by our society, they buy the big message that they'll be more popular and have more "fun," then they're damned for it. The result is soft-core porn on Facebook, and modern day scarlet letters and shame. I really appreciate your looking hard at this, keep up the GREAT work!

Jan. 23 2013 09:35 AM
Christina from Boston, MA

Amazing story, excellent reporting. It is so important to bring this youth phenomenon to light, and connect it to larger issues that affect all of us regardless of age (like pornography, and Facebook, and the overall portrayal of women in cultural media). Temitayo - your consciousness and intellect (as well as a great radio voice!) are a blessing you must protect and nurture. It may not always be easy to report on these kinds of stories - but you are so gifted, you must! Keep up the good work.

Jan. 23 2013 09:33 AM
Karen

Excellent reporting. I am appalled by the lack of remorse by the young man in the story and that he continues to blame the girl and call her names. Clearly there is a lot of work to be done in teaching RESPECT for others.

Jan. 13 2013 12:31 PM
khile from new city

"he gave me a bad name"? this may be unpopular to say,but is it all on him for posting her[his] sex act. and,is it outrageous to people because she is only 14. also,what of the young girls who flaunt their sexuality and don't feel shame about this. how can we know, what is a standard of decorum, in a cyber age,anyway. is this about shamming,bullying, or something else, that is too big and vague at the same time to identify. we're foolish,if we think that there is any one answer, that will satisfy many people,let alone all.

Jan. 13 2013 08:02 AM
Liz from Brooklyn, NY

I am often impressed by the content and quality of stories produced by Radio Rookies, but this piece has to be the best yet. Thank you to Temitayo for bringing this subject to our awareness and for such thorough, passionate, professional reporting. I hope to hear more stories from her, and thanks to Radio Rookies for offering such an amazing opportunity to find and nurture such promising talent!

Jan. 12 2013 04:44 PM
Randolph from France

I think everyone should listen to this.

Jan. 10 2013 07:42 PM
Anja from San Francisco

Exceptional reporting, Temitayo! I found your story when Feministing posted about it (http://feministing.com/2013/01/10/the-new-scarlet-letter/). I was really pleased to listen to the breadth of perspectives you presented and your analysis was spot on. Tying in the Scarlet Letter really anchors the massive lack of progress we as a society have failed to accomplish in regard to shaming of female sexuality.

Jan. 10 2013 01:50 PM
Joan from Hong Kong

Great work Temitayo! I hope there is a follow-up on this topic. Very interesting, and as the comments suggest, laden with a variety of social issues.

Jan. 10 2013 01:50 AM
Rhetta from Washington

I was blown away by this report for several reasons. How Temyitayo structured the story, the depth of the story and her frank personal insights. It was shocking to see the advantages to boys participating in this activity and the devastation it caused the girls. It begs the question why are boys ostracized for their actions in this. The girls have the perfect opportunity to take that power for themselves, by completely shunning them. I’ve often wondered what is in our makeup as women that we never assert this power. Perhaps the next article can answer that question.

Great job, keep up the good work Temyitayo!!

Jan. 09 2013 12:00 PM
Kressel

The way girls are taught to view themselves is nothing short of a travesty. Peers mock them if they're sexually active, but the media at large promotes "sexy" as the ideal. Isn't there some way a girl can get positive reinforcement for being good? In my experience, good girls are derided just as much - for being nerds, prudes, or too ugly for boys to notice.

Kudos to the rookie reporter! May she have a great life ahead of her as a good girl and accomplished woman.

Jan. 09 2013 10:35 AM

I've posted this article to FB with a note that what's being done is criminal behavior. It is literally "child pornography," and, as such, can (and should) be prosecuted.

Jan. 08 2013 07:46 PM
Catherine Coppola

Aside from the disturbing news about what these teens are doing to each other online, to me, the most shocking part of this story is that Ms. Fagbenle twice reported the offensive (criminal) content to Facebook and was told both times that they would do nothing about it. I've posted my disgust with their inaction on my Facebook status, and am asking my Facebook friends to weigh in on what we can do about it. If we just continue to go about business as usual on Facebook, we are complicit in victimizing this girl and countless others. Can WNYC use its influence to publicize what Facebook is doing here and pressure them to take responsibility for removing this kind of content?

Jan. 08 2013 06:30 PM
Andrew M from San Francisco

Great work from a very promising young reporter!

Jan. 08 2013 04:38 PM

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