Would you say that to my face?

Standard

A boy is walking down the hall at the local school, and on his way to class, someone runs up behind him and shoves his books to the floor.  Another student gets up from her desk to throw something away, when another student takes her pencil and throws it across the room.  And in the bathroom, a student is being called “poor boy” because he isn’t wearing $50 jeans.  We refer to these actions as “bullying.”  And although these seem to be harmless pranks, the effects on others can be detrimental to their self-esteem and overall well-being.

Photo courtesy of J_O_I_D via Flickr Creative Commons

Bad-cyberbully

There is another form of bullying, called cyberbullying, that can be just as traumatic to an individual, yet seemingly more widespread.  According to the National Crime Prevention Council, cyberbullying is defined as “when teens use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” (NCPA, 2012).  Cyberbullying affects almost 50% of the high school population in the U.S. (NCPA, 2012).

Sadly, this form of bullying happens all the time.  I believe one of the reasons why it is so rampant is because of the fact that the harassment takes place through technological means, where it is not necessary to be face-to-face with the victim.  There seems to be a false sense of confidence that allows the cyberbully to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and however he wants, because, hey…that kid is nowhere in sight!  What’s it going to hurt?  I’m not actually SAYING it to his face!  He won’t find out it’s me!

Unfortunately, the harm that cyberbullying does to another individual could have the following lasting and devastating effects on that person:  “Hurt feelings, sadness, anxiety, depression, anger, shame, fear, frustration, low self-esteem, inability to trust others.”  And this could end up leading to “withdrawal, seclusion, avoidance of social  relationships, poor academic performance, bullying others, and in extreme cases – suicide.” (Puresight, 2010-2011)

I took part in a webinar about a year ago called, “Cyberbullying – what every teacher should know.”  (Honeycutt, 2011).  During this webinar, Kevin Honeycutt discussed how we, as teachers, need to educate our students about their digital legacy.  Students should ask themselves, “What do I want to be remembered for?  How do I want to spend my heartbeats?  Who do I want to be?” (Honeycutt, 2011).  Our students must recognize that whatever they decide to post digitally remains.

Kevin also referenced that kids make decisions differently when they are behind a computer screen, as opposed to when they are in a social setting.  Would you say that to my face?  I was speaking to a friend about a month ago about current Facebook postings, and she brought up a good point – Facebook should be thought of as a playground – a place to share, reminisce and have fun – not a place to bait someone for an argument or cut someone else down.  Again, I ask, “Would you say that to my face?”

According to Kevin, we should “never say or send anything you would be embarrassed about if the whole world saw.”  He also brought up the point that, “as adults, we type an e-mail, we think about what we typed, and then we send it.”  However, “kids type an e-mail, they send it, and then they think about it after it’s too late.” (Honeycutt, 2011).

So, it appears we have a job to do.  We must educate our kids on how to take a proactive approach and learn how to stop cyberbullying.  Here are some suggestions made by Larry Magid:

Additional resources:

http://www.mysafesurf.org/

http://www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying

References:

Francis, C.  (Nov. 12, 2011).  Anti-Bullying Awareness – Indirect, Cyber Bullying, Alienated – Lesson – School.  [Web video].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/user/chrisifrancis

Honeycutt, K.  (Nov. 15, 2011).  Cyber-bullying – What every teacher should know.  [Webinar]. Retrieved from http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=143

Honeycutt, K.  (n.d.).  It’s time to get on the same page as our kids.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.mysafesurf.org/index.html

JOID’s Photostream. (March 6, 2008).  Bad-Cyberbully.  [Creative commons photo].  Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/winning-information/2314383724/

Magid, L. (n.d.).  Tips to stop cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.safeteens.com/tips-to-stop-cyberbullying/

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®.  (2012). Cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying

National Crime Prevention Council.  (2012). Cyberbullying:  A public advertising campaign aimed at preventing cyberbullying.  [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying

Puresight ® Technologies Ltd.  (2010-2011).  The dangers of cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/the-dangers-of-cyber-bullying.html

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15 responses »

  1. Cyberbullying. A concept that is all too common in schools and places of work. I have to say that I, personally, have never been a victim of cyberbullying…perhaps because I don’t ever put myself in the position of being a victim. You see, I do not partake in social networking, twitter, facebook, etc. So I have never been a victim. Some may say, “what about text msg”…Again, I have never had the experience. I consider myself lucky.

    My children, however, I worry about. My 9 year old is just now getting interested in technology…internet games for kids, youtube, etc. It is only a matter of time before he will ask about social networking. I am sure that his friends at school are already on. I will have NO PROBLEM telling him no. But will I just end up pushing him to doing it in secrecy? I would like to hope not.

    In my class I have heard students saying that “so-and-so posted a nasty message on Facebook”…or, “such-and-such told everyone that I blah-blah”. As a teacher (and a caring adult) I do take it upon myself to look into it as best I can. I ask the students…I report it to my administration and guidance department. But in the end, I am just another cog in the wheel with regards to reporting.

    Ultimately, I feel that it comes down to the responsibility of the parents. Parents have to teach their students to be responsible and respectful with regards to cyber-manners. Parents need not leave their children unsupervised if they suspect cyberbullying. And part of me can’t help but wonder if parents convey the feeling of “it’s not a big deal” when the issue is brought up. Almost as if the parents themselves are either being victims or perhaps the bully. You know what they say about apples and trees.

  2. Mike,

    I have not ever been a victim of cyberbullying either, thankfully. I do have an active Facebook, and what I have encountered are former students (those in adulthood now), who seem to, on occasion, “air their dirty laundry.” Of course, when appropriate, I will leave a positive uplifting comment on their wall, and I have always received a “thank you” for bringing them back from “the dark side.” 🙂 And I have also had several students message me – years past graduation – and tell me that they just wanted to thank me for impacting them and caring about them when they were going through issues while in middle school. This is why I appreciate your comment about being a “cog in the wheel.” We must never under-estimate the importance of that one cog, and the difference we may make in even one single student’s life. Am I patting myself on the back? Absolutely not…what I am saying is that teachers can be such an influence on our students. Because many parents either don’t know how to parent properly, are worn out from trying, or just simply don’t care, sometimes we are the only stability our students may encounter in the short time that they are in our care.

    And yes, the responsibility does rest with the parents. We can only do so much to help their kids. We should always be available to try and educate parents about such issues, and equip them with resources that will help them in parenting skills, especially in this technological day and age. And since I teach computer lab skills to elementary students, I also emphasize to them Internet safety and proper Netiquette – hopefully, as they grow, what they’ve learned will stick.

    So, in the meantime, we parent and protect our own kids (I have two myself, so I can relate), and we keep our eyes and ears open and observant for our students, and we continue being that “cog in the wheel.”

    Thanks for the great reply!

  3. I consider myself to be a new teacher; one with many fresh ideas and an enthusiasm for incorporating technology into lesson plans and in the classroom setting. While I am a “new generation” teacher, I am still very old fashioned when it comes to social etiquette, manners and inspiring kids to be kind to everyone. I enforce a strong “bully free zone.” I appreciate your blog and highlighting the importance of teaching students how to be a good online citizen and to not take part in cyberbullying! I find that even students who are generally polite and have manners often let their guard down and take a walk on the wild side when they enter the tech-world. Unfortunately, some students who don’t come across as a bully in a general social setting, may feel “safe” or “untouchable” behind a computer screen and keyboard. Just as teachers spend time in the beginning of the year (or before any group work or activity) explaining acceptable and appropriate behavior, this should be applied to technology learning settings as well. Teachers must first have a realistic idea of all that could potentially go wrong or ways students could get themselves into trouble, and then create a code of conduct and expectations for students to follow. There is much to be considered before placing a laptop or social networking site at the student’s fingertips. Set the standards high, and remind students that technology is a privilege to enhance their learning. They must prove and earn their rights to interact in a respectful way with all of their classmates. And finally, teachers must know how to monitor all student activity to hold students accountable and responsible for their actions. A student can quickly sense if their teacher is or is not tech-savvy. Thank you so much for your inspiring post on cyberbullying and taking a stand against it! I have already downloaded and saved the clip that you posted 🙂

    • Kim,

      Thanks so much for your comments! When you made the statement that students tend to feel “untouchable” and “safe” when it’s just between them and their computer screen, it reminds me of those times when I see people just “airing their dirty laundry” online and I am just so tempted to respond – but I don’t – because I think about the big picture. And that’s what we need our students to realize – that there are consequences for their words and actions. That’s why teaching them about their digital legacy is so important. We must definitely set high standards when it comes to how we treat others, and it is certainly something that our students need to be taught, as well. Teaching students integrity and holding them responsible for their actions should definitely be an ongoing theme in our classrooms – especially today. 🙂

  4. How do I want to spend my heartbeats?! Great question for us and for our students, and not just about cyber bulling. What a great way to pause prior to responding to someone who might be a little less nice than we would hope.

    I love that you posted on this topic this week as I think it has become a scary and somewhat overwhelming problem for us educators. I think back to school without cell phones and email and how hard that was for a regular old fashioned teenager and I am often grateful that I did not go through school in the digital age. I agree with you that standing up for oneself as well as cyber civility are topics worth discussing in school. Great post!

    • We definitely cannot become complacent in this day and age about the topic of bullying. I actually found a website during this week’s posting that was so disturbing that I couldn’t bring myself to post it. It gave a multitude of stories about kids who have actually committed suicide due to cyberbullying. We must make our students and parents aware that this is a very real situation – one that we should not tolerate. And as educators, we can do our part by being aware of the problem, setting a positive example for our students, and helping them to cope with life’s issues in a more positive way. Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  5. Cindy,
    I like how you pointed out why cyber-bullying is so prevalent – “There seems to be a false sense of confidence that allows the cyberbully to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and however he wants, because, hey…that kid is nowhere in sight! What’s it going to hurt? I’m not actually SAYING it to his face! He won’t find out it’s me!”
    This didn’t occur to me, but as soon as I read it I thought that this is probably why kids prefer texting over calling someone. It might not be for a bullying scenario, but they will have more confidence in what they say on texts or comments versus face to face.
    The webinar with Kevin Honeycutt sounded interesting! The “digital legacy” consideration is an effective way to explain to students that what they say on the internet is forever.

    I enjoyed reading your blog and the video clip you included 🙂 Thank you for sharing your webinar experience as well!

    Respectfully,
    Jamie

    • Thanks so much Jamie. I appreciate you reading my blog and making such great comments. It really is so easy to “say” things to someone digitally, when we’re not face-to-face with someone. And I don’t believe it matters what age we are – the temptation certainly exists. Our job is to help our students see the “big picture” when it comes to their actions, and how their actions will affect not only someone else, but themselves, as well. 🙂

      Cindy

  6. May I say that your blog title is very eye catching. The title fits perfect with the content of your blog. Bullying whether it is face to face or on the internet is becoming more talked about, and unfortunately happening more often in schools today. I was surprised to see that cyber bulling is at 50 percent in high school. With technology increasing it will not be surprising if this number rises as well. The YouTube video that you posted would be an excellent video to show a class. Students should become more aware of the types of bullying and the lasting effects it leaves on a student that is bullied. Some teachers do address this issue in their class and for the ones that do I think it’s great!
    Parents should also talk to their students about being bullied and about being the bully. It should be made clear that it will not be tolerated. I think that students at a certain age should not have access to a computer in their room nor be allowed to have a Facebook page. My personal opinion is that a computer should be in a family room for safety reason. The level of respect for one another in this younger generation has dramatically changed over the years. It’s important that they grasp the concept that what they post and say on the internet can affect them later. I really enjoyed your post.

    • Thanks so much for complimenting my title 🙂 – it really is something that I wish our kids would stop and think about more often. I, too, think it’s a well-made video and one that we can certainly show to our students. I am in such a perfect position at my school to be able to talk about this subject with my elementary school computer lab kids. It certainly is not too early to begin teaching them proper etiquette when it comes to the Internet and the right way to treat people. I completely agree with you that a computer should be placed in a family room, where a student is monitored – not only because of what they may do, but to also protect them from what could possibly be done to them. It all comes down to educating ourselves, our parents, and our students, and I believe we hold some responsibility for making this happen. Thanks for your reply.

  7. Digital media and technology has positives and negatives. One negative about digital media is cyberbullying. Cyberbullies can spread rumors, post pictures, and say or do things they’d never do to the victim’s face. They can (or think they can) remain anonymous. Unfortunately, once something is posted on the Internet, it is not limited to a few students or a school. It’s audience can spread. The repercussions affect not just the victim but also the perpetrator. Sad to say, cyberbullying is not limited to children and teens. I know adults who have been the victim of cyberbullying. One woman’s disgruntled ex-boyfriend posted rumors on cheating websites and photoshopped pictures of her. Google said it was up to the websites to remove the libelous material. I’m not sure if any of it is still there. She lost potential boyfriends (all they had to do was Google her name). The material could also affect job hunting.

    We need to educate our students on acceptable use and computer ethics such as cyberbullying. Schools need to have strict policies in place. Students need to be held accountable whether or not the incidents take place on campus. Parents need to be alert and monitor.

    • Unfortunately, as wonderful as technology and digital media is, there are definitely some problems attached to it, as well. I agree that this issue is not just limited to children and teens, but does definitely exist well into adulthood. The key rests in educating ourselves, our parents, and our kids to make sure that proper Netiquette becomes a habit early on. Prior to being admitted to our school, each of our students and parents are required to read and sign our technology acceptable use policy – and we must enforce it on a daily basis by talking about it and setting the right example for our students. Thanks so much for your reply. 🙂

  8. Thank you for this awesome post! If we want to implement technology into the class we need to be educating our students on social ethics. We need to make sure our students know what is not acceptable to be said on the internet. I think our students feel they can say whatever they want because it is not really being said to someone faces. Cyberbullying is becoming more and more of a problem when I feel like it should be becoming less of a problem. It is sad how many stories you hear about these young kids, kids that could possibly be in our classes, that hurt themselves because of what someone else has said. With the way our society is going I can only hope that both teachers and parents are able to work together to create a safe environment online or all involved!! Thanks again for your great post.

    ~Megan B

    • Social media is here to stay, so we definitely need to include it in our curriculum. For years, classrooms have posted the Golden Rule, as a rule to live by, and I truly believe that it is still just as applicable today when dealing with social ethics. It truly is a team effort, and education is the key. Thanks so much for your reply. 🙂

  9. Unfortunately, cyber bullying has been around since I have been a teenager. It has progressively gotten worse. Teachers should be aware of what might be going on, but also it is primarily the parents responsibility to monitor them. If a teacher finds out a student is being bullied over the computer outside the school day, then there should be a talk between the parents and teacher. Also during a “meet the teacher” or “open house” it might be a good time to show a video about bullying and cyber bullying to show that the school does not tolerate either forms and parents can see the signs.

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