By Nathan Ham
Rochelle Weinstein, a USA Today best-selling author and part time resident at Beech Mountain, recently released her latest literary work of art, “Somebody’s Daughter.”
The book was released on April 17 and it focuses on the devastating effects that social media can have on a family.
The book tells the story of Emma and Bobby Ross living life on the shores of Miami Beach. They have twin daughters, Zoe and Lily, run a successful business and are highly respected members in their community. Then, on the night of the girls’ fifteenth birthday party, they learn – in a devastatingly public way – of Zoe’s mistake. When a private indiscretion with a classmate at a party goes viral, the entire Ross family is thrust into the center of a shocking public scandal.
Shattered by disgrace and judgement, and bent on retribution, the family struggles to recover from the fallout. But for Emma, the shame runs deeper. Her daughter’s reckless behavior has stirred memories of secrets she holds. These secrets have the power to ruin her marriage, her family and her life.
According to bullyingstatistics.org, 1 in 10 teenagers have either been threatened or victimized by nonconsensual image sharing. This book sheds some light on how tough these consequences are to face, not only for a teenager but also for parents having to deal with the situation.
“The facts are startling. Online sharing of explicit content is epidemic, and I’ve witnessed a variety of situations close to home and around the country where teens and their families are facing their worst nightmare,” said Weinstein. “The subject is timely and topical, but it opens up another important conversation, that of our reactions to such behaviors.”
This book also serves as a reminder that no one is immune to having to face circumstances like this in their family.
“In witnessing the fallout, it’s become clear that this can happen to any family. It does not discriminate. As parents, we all try to do the best we possibly can, but there are no guarantees,” Weinstein said. “In telling this story, I knew I had to impart two messages: If you don’t want anything to go viral on the Internet, don’t share it, and second, choose kindness. Teens are going to mess up. Let’s not judge. ‘Somebody’s Daughter’ could ultimately become our own.”
According to Weinstein, she feels like her book has a message to impact both teens and adults that choose to read it.
“Parents need to know what their teens are doing online, conversing with them regularly about the hidden dangers of online sharing, while teens need to understand the long-term psychological and legal consequences of their online behavior,” she said. “Both require an understanding of the law and that teen sexting or sharing and/or posting explicit content are crimes that can lead to child porn or sexual cyber harassment charges. Despite our best efforts, nothing is ever truly deleted on the Internet. Awareness is key.”
Through lessons learned in this book and with life in general, there are certainly steps that can be taken to try and avoid having to deal with situations like this.
“Monitor what your teens are doing online. Talk to them about the dangers associated with sharing explicit content. Remind them that even though they might not have taken the incriminating video or photo, if they have explicit content of a minor on their phone and sharing it with a friend, they can be charged with possession and distribution of child porn,” Weinstein said.
If you or a family member fall victim to this sort of crime, there is help available. Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative are two useful sources for help that can get your life back on track, according to Weinstein.
Social media exploding onto the scene in the last 10 to 15 years has played a part in the increased number of sexting and cyber harassment cases seen around the country. Balancing social media with real life consequences is something that families are having to grasp the realities of.
“Parents and teens must be aware of the consequences. Unfortunately, the laws in many states haven’t caught up with the technology and it’s important to check the laws in your particular state,” Weinstein said. “Teens today view their phones and computers as streams of consciousness, vehicles for sharing every minute detail of their life without inhibition or afterthought. I’m all for freedom of speech, but not when it comes at such a heavy price. Teens must understand the risks involved, the permanence of their online content and the power they wield in their fingertips. I’ve always said the Internet’s greatest strengths are its greatest weaknesses. Striking a healthy, informed balance is the answer.
“Somebody’s Daughter” is available to purchase on Amazon.
Weinstein is an author, speaker, and former entertainment industry executive. Her novels include “What We Leave Behind,” “The Mourning After,” “Where We Fall,” and “Somebody’s Daughter.”