What harm can public forum websites potentially do?

No Bullying

We live in a different world to what we did 10 or 20 years ago. Immediate access to friends and family through social networks like Facebook, My Space and the like make it possible to share with everyone immediately what you’re doing, where you are and what your thoughts are on things and on many levels it is a great way of keeping up with what’s going on with friends and family



However these networks can also create situations that can bring both the user and those who read it down. Voicing opinions that bring disrespect to others in a public form can only be harmful to those who write those opinions and to those they are directed at. In recent times there is much talk in the media about “cyber bullying”. This is a new phenomena but it can be and has proven to be just as hurtful as any other form of traditional bullying. And bullying isn’t always about the bigger kid picking on the smaller kid. Behind a computer screen, it is easy for that little kid to feel empowered and say something negative and/or derogative about someone bigger than them



When our domestic and junior rep kids add people from Chelsea Basketball as their friends on Facebook, they have to be wary that what they say in a public forum can be seen by all that are their friends – including those who are from Chelsea. Having an opinion about others is fine and in no way should anyone be restricted what they say – as long as it comes with the respect of others



What concerns me with these social pages is how these kinds of comments can be perceived on these social pages. For example, if someone has had a negative experience in a game (such as court time or a decision they didn’t agree with) and they decide to air their opinion in a negative light and without recourse for the person they are directing their opinions at, then they expose themselves to the ramifications that come with that.



My advice to our parents at Chelsea is to remind their kids that what they say is in a public forum on these social websites and if that kid decides to make a negative and disrespectful comment about someone connected to Chelsea Basketball (either at committee level, coaching level, administrative level or refereeing level) then they run the risk of not being able to play basketball



Why? Because as part of the Codes of Conduct, Basketball Victoria now stipulates that any comments made in a public forum deemed to bring basketball into disrepute will be followed up by tribunal charges. This year alone, Basketball Victoria have heard over a dozen cases brought about by junior rep players making comments on a social website and many of those players have been handed severe suspensions.



But above the rules of Basketball Victoria and like is the most fundamental of all – respect for others. We have to teach our kids that respect comes in all forms, including expressing an opinion that others might not agree with but is expressed with respect for those it is directed at. If our kids are not given the advice of this fundamental aspect of life, then they not only face ramifications at Chelsea but also in life as well.


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