Monday, May 7, 2012

What Everyone Needs to Know about Cyberbullying

How to Stop Bullying in Schools

The nation was shocked in 2008 as the story of a thirteen-year-old girl committing suicide, as a result of being bullied with online messages, hit the airwaves. Megan Meier, of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri died a month before her fourteenth birthday, after a fall out with an “online friend.” Unfortunately the sixteen-year-old boy “Josh Evans” never existed. He was a fabrication of Lori Drew the mother of a former friend of Megan, her daughter, and a fellow employee of Drew. The MySpace account was created to “get information about [Megan] to later humiliate her.”

Cyberbullying is one of the most important issues in how to stop bullying in schools.
Watch this video training on cyberbullying here.

This was one of the first reported cases of cyberbullying, involving the use of a tech savvy resource. With the increase in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, access to bullying a student doesn’t end when they go home. Instant messaging, texting and e-mail—all of which are useful tools for communication—are now being used as weapons in the arsenal of bullies.

The Meier case touched off a hailstorm of national and international media, as well as lawsuits and legislation. These matters are still being debated in courtrooms and councils across the country. However, in the classroom there is little debate that something must be done to insure students’ safety.

The prevalence of this problem increases with the pervasive practices of social networking. Cyberbullying is also referred to as “ cyber bullying,” “electronic bullying” “e-bullying,” “online bullying,” “digital bullying,” or “Internet bullying.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, or the HRSA, it can involve:
  • Sending mean, vulgar, or threatening messages or images.
  • Posting sensitive, private information about another person.
  • Pretending to be someone else in order to make that person look bad, or intentionally excluding someone from an online group.
  • Hacking into cell phones and sharing with others the information found there to humiliate the victim.

The means by which a student can be bullied are as varied as the communication technology they use, but according to the HRSA it involves:
  • Emails
  • Instant messaging
  • Text or digital imaging messages sent on cell phones
  • Web pages
  • Blogs
  • Chat rooms or discussion groups
  • Other information communication technologies
A study conducted in 2005found that 185 of students in 6th to 8th grade said they had been cyberbullied at least once in the last couple of months and six percent of those students said it had happened to them two times or more.

That same study found that girls were about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying. Of those students who had been cyberbullied relatively frequently, meaning at least twice in the last two of months, 62% said that they had been cyberbullied by another student at school, and 46% had been cyberbullied by a friend. 55% of those students didn’t know who the bully was.

A study titled “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids” from 2006 found that the most common way middle and high school students reported being bullied was through instant messaging. Younger children indicated that email and comments on a web site or chat room were more common.

This same survey found that 45% of preteens and 30% of teens who had been cyberbullied, received the message while at school.

With the pervasive yet discreet manner of cyberbullying, it is easier than ever for bullying to go unnoticed and unreported.

A telephone survey of preteens and teens found that:
  • 51% of preteens, and only 35% of teens who had been cyberbullied told their parents about their experience.
  • 27% of preteens and only 9% of teens who had been cyberbullied told a teacher.
  • 44% of preteens 72% of teens who had been cyberbullied told a friend.
  • 31% of preteens and 35% of teens who had been cyberbullied told a brother or sister.
  • 16% of both preteens and teens who had been cyberbullied told no one.
Educators have the unique opportunity to educate their students and other staff members about cyberbullying and its destructive results. It is important to look at school bullying policies and rules and make sure they address cyberbullying. Students’ computer use should be monitored closely, and reports of cyberbullying should be investigated immediately. If cyberbullying occurs through the school district’s internet system, immediate action is obligatory. If bullying occurs off-campus, careful consideration should be given as to actions that will address the bullying.

Parents should be notified if their child is a cyberbully victim and should be educated on what they can do to prevent it from happening again.

According to the HRSA, the police must be notified if the suspected or known cyberbullying involves:
  • Threats of violence
  • Extortion
  • Obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages
  • Harassment, stalking, or hate crimes
  • Child pornography
  • If a minor is involved in any pornography that is shared.
The example of educators who are strictly dedicated to the curbing of bullying can be powerful. Teachers who are willing to listen to their students’ concerns, and who teach students to interact with one another on a higher level of respect and kindness, can produce life-changing results.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with what these people need to do to stop the bullying. I think it's ridiculous when kids even bully and gossip a lot, but it's not as bad as when an adult does it. When adults think they can act as another person it's clear they need to grow up. I really hope this girl learned a lesson.