Tag Archives: cyber-bully

Public Schools Required to Teach Anti-Cyberbullying Practices

Many public schools in the United States will soon be required to educate students about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to conduct themselves online. All schools which are funded with the Schools and Libraries Program – otherwise known as E-Rate – fund will be bound by these regulations. Grantees are already required to run some kind of online safety education class and to deploy filters “to protect students from accessing inappropriate content,” as stated by the Federal Communications Commission.

“‘Cyberbullying’ is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones,” according to one Cyberbullying website. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines the crime as as “incidents where adolescents use technology, usually computers or cell phones, to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.”

What types of behaviors are considered to be Cyberbullying?

  • Threatening e-mails
  • Nasty instant messaging session
  • Repeated notes sent to the cell phone
  • A website set up to mock others
  • ‘Borrowing’ someone’s screen name and pretending to be them while posting a message
  • Forwarding supposedly private messages, pictures, or video to others
  • Recording secret videos of a person doing something they wouldn’t want the world to know or see, and then uploading it for just that purpose

Another way to bully others online is to create the never-ending “Who’s Hot?” polls, and the “Who is the biggest (fill in the blank)?” polls. Such questions are often very offensive to others and are yet another way that kids can “bully” other kids online.

It’s about time that schools were forced to implement education such as this. There are far too many instances of Cyberbullying in the news… and we shouldn’t have to see any at all. What are your thoughts? Do you agree that this should be talked about in the schools – in addition to being discussed at home?

President Obama Wants you to Play Nice on Twitter

During a live event on MTV, CMT and BET earlier today, President Obama cautioned us to behave ourselves when online. The President condemned the practice of bullying in general, cyber- or otherwise: “We have zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment, we have zero tolerance when it comes to harassment over a person’s sexual orientation, because of their race, their ethnicity.”

Obama hesitated to delve too deeply into the realm of online monitoring. “It is a challenging thing, because part of the power of the Internet is that information flows out there, and it’s generally not censored or controlled by any single authority.” There have been a lot of challenges made to the First Amendment as it applies to content on the Internet. Most rulings have been in favor of e-speech.

What do you think of the President’s stance against online harassment? Does he need to step up to the plate a bit harder, or is he right on the money?

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Is Cyber-Bullying Linked to Depression?

We’ve long held the belief that people who are bullies – whether online or in a physical space – suffer from some sort of depression, mental imbalance or other brain block. However, new studies show that it is usually the victims – not the bullies – who end up suffering from depression. Bullying, which traditionally involved physical violence, verbal harassment or social exclusion, now often includes “cyber” bullying, a form of electronic aggression. Cyber bullying allows bullies to engage in aggressive behaviors via computers or cell phones. Their victims are the most likely ones to suffer mental consequences later on.

The study authors state that “unlike traditional bullying, which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.” The new study worked with American students in grades 6 through 10. The kids completed a questionnaire designed to measure their levels of depression, and were asked whether they were either perpetrators or victims of bullying.

Being bullied has been linked to lower academic achievement standards, self-respect and social development. It can – and often does, sadly – affect the future. “There is a lot of evidence that psychological problems in adolescence can persist into adulthood,” says chief researcher Ronald J. Iannotti. “Involvement of schools and parents is really important,” he said. “It’s really got to be a community effort – working with teachers, administrators, parents, and working with kids to improve their social skills so these kinds of things don’t happen.”

Being a victim of a cyber-bully is definitely not a good situation. I urge you to talk to a parent, teacher or other trusted adult. You may feel as though no-one will listen or can help, but you are wrong. People DO care, and they’re willing to help in any way they can. If someone doesn’t take you seriously, talk to another person. Don’t give up.

How Do You Deal With Bullies?

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Over on Lockergnome, Pretty Pink asked a question about dealing with school bullies. Apparently, this is a hot topic, as it has received more answers and discussion from the community than most other questions on the site. It’s sad to see that so many of you have to deal with some type of bully, be it in a school setting or online. In my opinion, people who bully others do so because something is seriously lacking in their own lives. No matter their reason for acting out this way, we still all have to find ways to deal with them when the situation arises.

I know I’ve talked before about this very subject. I am certainly not some kind of professional advisor or counselor. I can, however, tell you that when I went through school, I was bullied… all the way through college. It stopped bothering me at some point during high school.

I can only tell you how I handled it from my own perspective. As long as we have been walking the Earth, there have been bullies – and there will continue to be. It does end at some point. Know that you actually have the upper hand if you’re the victim, believe it or not.

Something I’ll never forget is confronting a bully back in high school. A scary and large individual had made it known that he didn’t like me and thought he could frighten me. I decided not to pay attention to him and pretended that it didn’t bother me. I made it comical, and refused to let him get to me.

One day in gym class, he came in with a group of his friends. We were running laps and he decided to push me from behind. Something in me kind of snapped. I realized that if I didn’t take a stand he would do it again. I made a split-second decision and turned around. He was much larger than me, and stocky as heck. Without thinking, I pushed him back. He whipped around and was shocked that I had actually stood up to him. I threw up my fists, even though I had no idea what I would do at that point. I didn’t throw a punch – but neither did he. I just let him know that I was no longer going to back down or take the crap that he kept dishing out.

At that point, the teacher intervened and we went our separate ways. I was afraid for my life at that point, not knowing what would happen. From that day forward, though, he never touched me again. He gave me dirty looks over the years, but never directly messed with me again.

I’m not saying this would work in every situation. However, it’s important to let them know in some way or another that they cannot get to you and cannot control your life. You have to stand up for yourself, even if it’s just to walk away from them and pretending that they don’t bother you in the least.

You have to do what’s right for you in your situation. If someone is harming you (or threatening to), then you need to talk to an adult in the school or at home. You may think that labels you as a tattle-tale, but it’s far better than being hurt or killed.

I don’t really care what someone thinks of me. If they don’t like me because I’m short, or Italian or a Geek – that’s THEIR problem, not mine. Once you reach that mind-set, your life will be much easier.

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Facebook Introduces Panic Button App

Today, Facebook announced that they will allow a so-called “panic button” application on their website. The app is aimed at young people and teens who need to report instances of unwanted sexual advances, cyberbullying and threats of any type. Cases of abuse will be reported to the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (Ceop) and Facebook. Bebo became the first network to add the button with MySpace following suit, but Facebook resisted the change for months. They felt the reporting mechanisms they had in place were sufficient. However, there was a great amount of pressure placed on the Facebook team following the rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, who she met on Facebook.

Facebook’s head of communications in the UK, Sophy Silver, told BBC News “We still have the Facebook reporting system and by having a pre-packaged application that users play an active part in, you not only help keep them safe, it makes all of their friends aware too, and acts as a viral awareness campaign.
Ultimately though, this makes for a safer environment for users and that’s the most important part.”

Jim Gamble, CEOP’s chief executive, said that sites such as Facebook and MySpace “are creating a public space that attracts young people, children and adults, so they can make money through advertising. There is a responsibility, a duty of care, to the young and the vulnerable.” Facebook plans to promote the button to young users by advertisements. However, it will not be pre-installed for users. “Facebook, for what it’s worth, would prefer that you not call this app a “panic button.” It’s an optional download that also provides messages about how to stay safe in addition to its abuse-reporting features.”

Do you feel that this app is something that is necessary? What, in your opinion, is the best method of keeping our kids safe online?