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«Tackling School Bullying: What you need to know about bullying and cyber bullying legislation, prevention, and best practices “Empowering Today’s ...»

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61 eSM STAR Tackling School Bullying

• Six percent got in trouble at school because of an experience on a social network site.

Teens say they receive advice about online safety from a wide variety of people in their lives. Parents are the top source, with 86 percent of teens saying they have received advice from their parents about how to use the internet safely and responsibly. Seventy percent have received advice from a teacher or other adult at school.

Teens report that their parents are the biggest influence on shaping what they think is appropriate or inappropriate behavior when going online or using a cell phone. At the same time, 18 percent of teens say that “no one” has influenced them about their attitudes toward online behavior.

When teens have a specific problem, such as seeing mean or cruel behavior on a social network site, 36 percent seek advice on how to cope. Those teens who do reach out for advice in these situations tend to gravitate toward their friends and peers (53 percent) and parents (36 percent), and they almost universally say the advice they get is helpful.

Most teens with social networking profiles (62 percent) say that the profile they use most often is set to private, so only their friends can see the content they post. One in five (19 percent) say their profile is partially private, meaning that only friends of friends or a network can see what they post, while 17 percent say their most-used profile is fully public.

Families have adopted a number of approaches to modern digital parenting. Many parents talk with teens about online safety or “friend” their children on social networks, while others

have adopted a more technical approach toward monitoring their child’s online behavior:

• Eighty percent of parents who use social media and who also have a child who uses social media have friended their child on these sites.

• Seventy-seven percent of parents of internet users have checked which websites their child visits, up from 65 percent of parents who did so in 2006.

• Sixty-six percent of parents have checked to see what information is available online about their child.

• Fifty-four percent of parents of internet users report using parental controls or other means of filtering, monitoring, or blocking their child’s online activities.

62 eSM STAR Tackling School Bullying While many parents have become friends with their children on social media sites, problems still can crop up. One in five teens who have been friended by their parents (18 percent) have experienced a problem with their parents because of something that happened on a social networking site, compared with 5 percent of such teens who are not friends with their parents on a social networking site.

“When a child accepts a parent’s friend request, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the parent has a backstage pass to their child’s social life,” said Mary Madden, co-author of the report. “Teens can present a limited profile to certain friends and are active users of private messaging channels, so the content that parents see may represent just a small fraction of the activity on their teen’s profile.” The report, which is based on seven focus groups with teens and a nationally representative survey of 799 youth ages 12-17 and their parents, was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and with the support of Cable in the Classroom.

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Dept. of Ed provides tips online to address school bullying It’s not the kind of letter you would think the secretary of education would get, but Arne Duncan said he gets them all the time.

“I’m being bullied at school and on the bus, and I’m afraid of telling somebody because they might hear about it and do something bad to me,” a girl from Texas wrote in a letter to the Obama administration’s top education official.

“I don’t really like telling on somebody, but I’ve told the principal and [he] didn’t do anything about it. I’ve considered suicide but that won’t help anything; that will only hurt my family. Please give me advice about what to do.” Such things are happening in schools across the country, Duncan said during a Sept. 21 summit on bullying prevention.

In the wake of the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of Amherst, N.Y., Duncan and other education experts said schools must confront the bullying problem head on, lest they risk more young lives.

“You have to take these tough issues on openly and honestly,” Duncan said in a brief interview with the Buffalo News during the conference. “It’s painful. It’s difficult work. It’s tough stuff. But ultimately it saves lives.” What’s more, the Education Department (ED) can help school districts do just that.

“We work very directly with districts that want our help,” Duncan said. “We’ve had some pretty significant success with working with districts, working on preventing this and dealing with the aftermath of these devastating tragedies. If that is something the [Williamsville] district is interested in, we would love to be helpful.” Duncan told a crowd of several hundred at the summit that the Obama administration had made bullying a priority. In addition to setting up an informational website, www.stopbullying.gov, the administration is also working on developing a uniform definition of bullying that aims to help schools confront the problem.

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“Changing the culture and changing the climate is very important” to preventing bullying, said Jamie M. Ostrov, an associate professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo who is serving the panel that’s coming up with that uniform definition.

Rodemeyer was the victim of several hateful anonymous comments left on his Formspring blog. ED’s “Stop Bullying” website includes the following advice on preventing cyber bullying…

• Educate students, teachers, and other staff members about cyber bullying, its dangers, and what to do if someone is cyber bullied.

• Discuss cyber bullying with students. They might be knowledgeable about cyber bullying, and they might have good ideas about how to prevent and address it.

• Be sure that your school’s rules and policies address cyber bullying.

• Closely monitor students’ use of computers at school. Use filtering and tracking software on all computers, but don’t rely solely on this software to screen out cyber bullying and other problematic online behavior.

• Investigate reports of cyber bullying immediately. If cyber bullying occurs on campus or through the school district’s internet system, you are obligated to take action. If the cyber bullying occurs off campus, you can still help. Even cyber bullying that occurs off campus can affect how students behave and relate to each other at school.

• Closely monitor the behavior of the students involved at school for all forms of bullying.

• Investigate to see if those who are cyber bullied need support from a school counselor or school-based health professional.

• Notify the parents of students involved in cyber bullying.

• Talk with all students about the negative effects of cyber bullying.

• Contact law enforcement. Notify the police if the aggressive behavior is criminal.

The following might constitute a crime: threats of violence; child pornography and sexting; taking a photo image of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy; harassment, stalking, or hate crimes; obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages; sexual exploitation; and extortion.

About 80 percent of gay and lesbian youths in New York reported experiencing verbal

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harassment in 2009, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network found in a statewide survey, and 33 percent reported physical harassment.

To prevent such bullying, said Eliza S. Byard, executive director of the network, schools


• Establish a policy that specifically bars harassment based on sexual orientation.

• Encourage the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliances at schools.

• Urge adults to be supportive of GLBT students.

Copyright (c) 2011, The Buffalo News, with additional reporting by eSchool Media. Visit The Buffalo News online at www.buffalonews.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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Community: ‘It take a village’ to stop bullying In a recent story, titled “Obama pledges crackdown on cyber bullying,” we reported on new efforts by the Obama administration to help curb bullying and cyber bullying. But many readers say these efforts don’t go far enough—and to change hurtful behavior, it’s going to take more than school policy.

(Comments are edited for brevity.) “I do believe the president means what he says about getting behind an initiative to curb bullying, but the fact remains that not enough is being done at the local level or within individual households,” writes F. Maisey.

“I have four children ranging in age from 27 to 11, and three of those four have been bullied. … We reported; complained; preached; shared info; called parents, teachers, and school officials; and no one seemed to know how to make it stop. Parents continue to promote the ideology of ‘not my child,’ while administrators are powerless against activities outside school.

“Luckily, my youngest is in the classroom of a friend of mine. This teacher is on the ball, and when I shared the info with her, she jumped on it, using no-tolerance activities, bully experts, and dedicating several aspects of the curriculum in the 5th [and] 6th grades to curbing and ending bullying.

“I believe [in] the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ and if parents were more aware and not so shallow, perhaps children would behave better as well. In addition, I think school officials need to make anti-bullying a way of life within and around the school—not just blather on as if they are doing something when they very often are not. I wonder how in tune [the president] is with school policy and what rules and programs he can support to save those kids who don’t stand a chance. Many of the students who have killed themselves over bullying did not get help—they were too ashamed or scared to ask for it, and even when they did, no one did a collective right thing.” Many readers said that bullying is an end result, and more steps have to be taken for prevention.

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“We have a major flaw in the ‘solution,’ because it still only deals with bullying as the ‘end result,’ but does nothing to address the root cause of bullying in the first place,” explains C. Gregory. “And, as I’ve said repeatedly, cyber bullying isn’t any ‘special’ kind of bullying, per se. … It comes from the very same place other types of bullying comes from;

yet, we don’t want to address that common core.” Join Gregory’s discussion here.

“Bullying is a very serious issue, and I agree with First Lady Michelle Obama that parents or concerned adults must be involved in the lives of their children,” says Seonlady47.

“Children need guidance in their early years to build their self-esteem, and then they need to be taught that it is not OK to hurt someone else because they do not look, dress, or talk a certain way. Manners and consideration for another person have gone by the wayside.” “We are still treating it as [if] the child being bullied is the one out of balance—the one who needs help, while the bullies just need a little reminder about their manners,” says ginarocks. “Chances are that the school bully has a parent who was a school bully and is currently a workplace bully, but who has just become more socially adept at it. How dare we, as adults, think that this is some new phenomenon of the Internet Age?

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have just replaced the cliques, phone calls, and notepassing of previous generations. People know that the socially acceptable thing to do is to feign empathy. Until people change their views on people who are different from them, the problem will remain, no matter how the government tries to suppress it. No amount of assertiveness or self-esteem workshops for the ‘victims’ will help, either.” “C. Gregory makes a good point about being concerned about calling cyber bullying unique—but cyber bullying expert Patricia Agatston does discuss in her book that it is easier to bully when one is behind a computer, not face to face,” writes lcallister1. “Dr.

Agatston talks about how we need to build a culture of good behaviors with each other, building empathy, and skills to make it unacceptable in our schools.” “The real issue is the breakdown of what bullying is,” writes wallace. “It is a cry for help.

It is, whether big or small, a viable cry for attention. Before I even attempt pointing a finger at anyone, I must mention the fact that it takes a village … you know the rest. We are all guilty of looking the other way and pretending not to notice. We do not know

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how to react, act upon, or better yet, prevent. We cannot from the outside make much of a change. It goes deeper, to the heart or conscience. We need family to become a stronger force. We need each other to survive.” “The president’s candid description of the bullying he experienced can give people hope and encouragement that life achievement and dream fulfillment can still occur despite being bullied. But unfortunately, it also places an overemphasis on the actions of bullies and the response of the victims, rather than the larger solution of creating kindness, generosity, character, and respect in our schools for all students,” says reycarr. “What we need is greater emphasis on positive social skills; not just lip service as to the necessity, but curricula with experiential components, including service-based practicums where students can be peer helpers, peer leaders, peer tutors, peer mentors, and other roles to help develop the positive social skills.” Helping to advance the conversation, many readers gave best-practice tips and advice on how to combat bullying, at least at the school level.

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