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As the scope of bullying expands beyond the playground to the Internet, school leaders are using new tactics to protect students – and their districts. Cyberbullying can have serious ramifications for school districts, and schools must to be proactive in addressing this issue. Some school districts have been sued regarding their students’ webpages. Others have preempted student cyberbullying by suspending those who cyberbully.
What is cyberbullying?Cyberbullying is defined as: “When children or teens bully each other using the Internet, mobile phones or other cyber technology.” (1) It can happen at any time through electronic media – not just during the school day – and includes text messaging and social media like Facebook.
Did you know?Cyberbullying can happen in a number of ways and it can have a negative impact on a wide scope of people in the school community. Some facts about cyberbullying include:
Whereas playground bullying is face-to-face, cyberbullies often do not witness how their message affects the bullied, making the act easier to commit.(3) According to a 2009 survey of middle school students, over 17% say they have ever been a victim of cyberbullying.(4)
What can a school district do?
Districts can combat cyberbullying in your districts by implementing policy changes and offering educational opportunities for staff and students, including:
What is your district’s position?Having policies and procedures in place in school districts can help when an issue arises. While many districts ban use of Facebook, Twitter or other social media websites on campus, there are other opportunities for cyberbullying on the school grounds.
School administrators and school board members must decide on the components of a policy, including appropriate punishment measures, which websites to block from school servers, whether to limit students’ time with cell phones or when computers are available for non-academic use throughout the school day. In addition, how a school handles threats made by a student to other students or school staff also must be addressed. Some students have been expelled for threats made on Facebook.(5)
Resources and Information
Public Awareness Campaigns:
References:(1) “So What is Bullying?”(2) “So What is Bullying?”(3) “She Used to Be Pretty”(4) Cyberbullying Research Center(5) “Expulsion feeds debate on online rights,” USA Today, February 2, 2010.