CyberBullying Or CyberBuddies? Can Technology Teams Help Bring Greater Peace and Prosperity to the World? Yes They Can! Part One

Unknown-1Isaiah the Prophet wrote this biblical prophecy almost 3,000 years ago:And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: Schwerter_zu_Pflugscharen_-_Bronze_-_Jewgeni_Wutschetitsch_-_Geschenk_der_Sowjetunion_an_die_UNO_-_1959nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4).” More peace was needed in the world way back then. 

We have just started the year 2018. We are still wishing for peace for each other. Still we wait for peace to happen. Worse, peace seems no closer than it’s ever been. When do we begin to remake our tools of war and unrest into tools of  peace instead? When will peace begin?  This much we know: Peace must begin with each one of us. And, our schools are a great place to start.

As a step in the right direction, RE@L Blog is honored to bring to our RE@L Blogreaders this new, comprehensive “Guide to CyberBullying Awareness.” Courtesy of Tulane University and Guest Blogger, Amber Harris, we are pleased to present a new and needed Guide that can help us get started. We bring to our readers a plan to take some first steps.

Starting now? Yes! And, here’s how and why!

First off, we need to recognize the virus of hate and intolerance already has infected thousands of our school age learners with the growing plague of cruel, demeaning, intolerant, and harmful CyberBullying. It’s truly tragic. Some young people have died from the abuses. Some are emotionally scarred. CyberBullying must to be stopped now.

Peruse this helpful Guide below and start the New Year with a far greater focus on peace and collaboration. Yes, believe it or not, we can begin in our own schools. K12 Anti-CyberBullying Teams everywhere can help make it happen: school boards, teachers, students, parents, the community. Let’s include the growing number of new K12 STEM learning teams that are emerging exponentionally everywhere.

Tulane SSWUnder the auspices of The Tulane University of School Social Work, professional Blogger Amber Harris has prepared a comprehensive set of Anti-CyberBullying resources. Unknown-3Her blog offers a wealth of information to get an effective program started anywhere.

Click on the graphic above for more information on Tulane’s SSW program.

Success starts with awareness of what Cyberbullying is. The answers lie with the adults of tomorrow, who are now the students of today. They cannot be subjected to the taunts and name-calling that constitute CyberBullying. We need to create more student groups that know how to work effectively together and why it’s critically important.

Here’s what we teachers, students, parents and community leaders can do to help.  Just look at the graphic to the right to see the hurt and damage it can inflict on others.

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“2018 Tulane SSW Guide to Cyberbullying Awareness”:

Chapter One: “What is CyberBullying?”;

Chapter Two: “Examples of Cyberbullying,” 

Chapter Three: “Cyberbullying Prevention Tips, Laws, and Policies” 

Unknown-2Before the internet, bullying was a problem—but it was a problem that didn’t extend into the pockets, bedrooms, living rooms, and beyond of students’ lives. Parents, educators, and mental health profenessssionals in our communities are aware of how damaging cyberbullying can be—but preventing it can be a major challenge. 

The good news? We can take effective steps to keep students safe. Preventing the problem involves understanding just what cyberbullying is, how big the problem has gotten, and examples of cyberbullying in action.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place over digital mediums. Students may be cyberbullied on their phones, computers, and other devices by receiving harassing chats, texts, messages, comments, forum posts, and pictures that cause them emotional harm.

Cyberbullying Facts:

  • Often takes many forms (social media, texting, instant messaging)
  • Can be public or private
  • Few parents and educators see cyberbullying in action
  • Cyberbullies may act alone or in groups
  • Cyberbullies may act anonymously (Victim never knows who exactly is targeting them.)
  • Because it’s online, cyberbullies can follow their victims wherever they go

Instead of only tormenting their victims when they are in the same physical space, cyberbullies infiltrate their victims’ lives as often as they want to, sometimes even 24/7. It can be difficult for victims to avoid communications and escape from their attacker. Worse, false or hurtful information, private images, and other communications are recorded permanently online, and could affect the victim’s reputation for years to come.

STOP CyberbullyingChapter 1: Alarming Cyberbullying Statistics

Though many states still don’t have specific laws that apply to cyberbullying, it’s a growing problem that has gained researchers’ attention. We now have access to ample data on the true dangers of cyberbullying, and we can use that data to prevent kids from being targeted.

Notable Cyberbullying Statistics:

  • Around 1 in 3 students experience bullying through the academic year
  • Only 15% of students admit to being cyberbullied
  • 61% of overweight teens have reported being bullied online
  • 70% of K-12 kids have witnessed cyberbullying take place
  • Only 10% of cyberbullying victims will report to an adult about getting cyberbullied
  • Females are 2 times more likely to be victims of cyber bulling
  • Kids are 7 times more likely to experience cyberbullying from friends than strangers
  • Cyberbullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to contemplate suicide

Bullies will often stop their behavior temporarily when others intervene on their victim’s behalf, but this is more difficult when bullies shift to cyberbullying, since there are fewer witnesses to the attacks. Additionally, those who might speak out on behalf of a bullying victim in person may be unwilling or unable to do so over a digital medium.

imagesCyberbullying Victims and Online Threats

According to cyberbullying statistics, most bullies who engage in online harassment don’t look to the Internet to find their victims—they just use it to extend the reach of their bullying behavior from school to online platforms.

A University of Warwick survey of 2,700 children ages 11 to 16 revealed that only 1% of students had been bullied solely online. Most had experienced both “traditional” bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullies still choose their victims at school in the vast majority of cases, and simply use digital platforms as another tool to reach their victims.

Threats have become a common form of harassment, and bullies make these threats either online or through text and email. Some cyberbullies also pretend to be their victims online, in order to damage their reputation, or circulate hurtful images and videos.

Which Students Are at Risk?

Both boys and girls are regularly victims of cyberbullying, and unfortunately, those who are bullied themselves regularly victimize others online.

Overall, girls are more likely to report cyberbullying (40.6% of girls and 28.2% of boys), but both boys and girls reported that they had been cyberbullied in the last 30 days at a similar rate.

images-1Cyberbullying statistics reveal that nearly as many teens and children are bullied online as they are in person—about 34%. Some reports show even higher cyberbullying numbers—the i-SAFE Foundation reports that about 50% of adolescents have both been cyberbullied and engaged in cyberbullying themselves.

Though any young person can experience bullying, the most common targets are those perceived as “different” in some way from their peers, which can change based on the cultural context at school.

Types of Mental Health Services

Cyberbullying statistics show that victims of online harassment are at risk for depression at a higher rate than both cyberbullies and victims of traditional bullying. Interestingly, bullies who engage in traditional bullying behaviors are more likely to develop depression than their victims, but the same is not true for cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can make depression and anxiety more likely to develop, exacerbate existing mental health issues, disrupt academic performance, and impact overall happiness and well-being.

Unknown-4Because of this, it is crucial to make mental health services available to adolescents involved with bullying and encourage them to seek help when they’re being bullied. Some options for mental health services for young people include:

  • 911, for immediate and severe threats
  • Suicide hotlines, for adolescents in crisis who feel like they have nowhere to turn
  • School counseling
  • Family counselors/therapists
  • Teachers and principals

imagesAdditional Resources:

  • Cyberbullying Research Center – Find the latest research on cyberbullying, including statistics, resources and victim stories.
  • Get Help Now – A list of resources that the victims of cyberbullying can use in case they ever need to get help.
  • MentalHealth.gov – Learn more about mental health and how the individuals can get the help or treatment that they need.
  • National Institute of Mental Health – A variety of information on mental health that covers everything from lifeline for immediate help to how to participate in a clinical trial.

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Stay tuned for CHAPTER 2 and Chapter 3 in the following weeks.

These three blogs will be a great resource in creating more CyberBuddies and eliminate the CyberBullies for good!

RE@L will have more to say about this topic soon!

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.