LEWISTON — Kay Stephens, one of the authors of “Cyberslammed,” will present tactics to fight cyberbullying Saturday, Oct. 20, at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

Stephens is one of the speakers at the annual youth summit of Outright Lewiston-Auburn, a youth group for those 22 and under who are gay, bisexual or transgender.

Stephens and Vinitha Nair spent five years researching the book, drawing upon the advice of some of the most respected experts on cyberbullying.

The book coincides with Maine’s first cyberbullying law enacted this past summer, which in January will require schools to adopt policies addressing bullying and cyberbullying.

The book informs parents and educators of six tactics used online, the vocabulary and when and how to intervene, Stephens said.

She began research for her book shortly after the suicide of Meagan Meier, a 16-year-old Missouri girl who killed herself over cyberbullying and a failed online romance that turned out to be a hoax. The six-year anniversary of Meier’s death was Oct. 17.

One cyberbullying tactic is establishing an impostor profile, creating a fake identity to lure a target to divulge personal thoughts or information. In Meier’s case, the mother of a girl Meier had a falling out with pretended she was a 16-year-old boy, “Josh,” who liked Meier.

“The woman gained her trust,” then turned on her, Stephens said. Others “in a mob mentality, all piled on telling her to kill herself.”

She added, “What’s so disturbing is another girl, Amanda Todd, killed herself last week after sending her picture to what turned out to be a pedophile.” Todd, 15, of Canada, was blackmailed and bullied after sexting an image of her breasts to a man who circulated it on the Internet.

“Those are the things I worry about,” Stephens said.

Other ways kids bully online include sexting, which is sending nude pictures through cellphones or computers; through websites that rate who is “hot” and who is not; “video jacking,” which is taking a photo or video and uploading it to YouTube without permission; and websites set up “to throw hate at one person,” Stephens said.

Students in grades 5 to 12 are most likely to become targets of cyberbullying, “but LGBT kids are more likely to be targets of cyberbullying,” Stephens said. Statistics show gay and lesbian youths are five times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied.

If they’re putting out “a digital footprint,” which includes anything on Facebook, “that can potentially be used by cyberbullies to embarrass and shame them,” Stephens said.

Her book is for everyone. Her talk on Saturday will deal specifically with gay and lesbian youths.

[email protected]

For more information about “Cyberslammed,”go to: http://www.cyberslammed.com/.


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