As a parent, reading through a week’s worth of information and watching heart-wrenching videos regarding cyberbullying has proved to be extremely difficult! As a parent I try to teach my kids to be nice and kind to others and to always be helpful when possible. The thought of someone treating them in this manner breaks my heart, and the thought of them treating someone else in this manner scares me dearly!
Cyberbullying- We have all heard the term, and some, unfortunately, may have even experienced it personally. In today’s digital world, we not only receive the glorious continuous access to a wealth of information, knowledge, and networking opportunities and entertainment that people rave about, but we also open a portal for undesirable actions as well. Brewer and Kerslake (2015) define cyberbullying as, “a unique phenomenon, distinguished from traditional bullying by the speed at which information is distributed, permanence of material and availability of victims”. In general terms, the bullies on the playground that used to take your lunch money or wouldn’t let you play on the swings just to be mean, the bullies that you could go home and escape from each day at 3:00, and didn’t have to think about at nighttime or on the weekends… Those bullies now have constant access to harass and torment you day in and day out, 24 hours a day! Scary thought, right?
We must take a stand, raise awareness and bridge the gap that comes from the lack of knowledge by parents, educators, administration, family members, and friends. This will never be eliminated or even reduced without a joint effort working in every direction! There is no type or group that we need to protect. It’s much more difficult than that. Anyone, and everyone who uses any form of digital device or technology is in potential danger of cyberbullies. One idea that does not really pertain to me, but I think it would be a great idea, is to have a cyberbullying awareness speaker at “Open House” or “Meet the Teacher” events. This ties into the idea that cultivating open lines of communication will help control cyberbullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2015). This will also help bridge the gap between teachers, parents, and students and provide an opportunity to show the students that the parents and teachers are there to help and protect them!
We, as parents, teachers, educators, administrators, or whatever role(s) we may play, should also try our best to let students know that “it’s ok to tattle”! We need to spread the word that it is actually their responsibility. Many times, students see or hear of something going on, they know it is not right, but because it does not pertain to them directly they tend to ignore it and move on. We should not ask them to step in and intervene if they are not comfortable doing so, but they should see help and let an adult know what is going on. Many times, this third-party help could possibly save a young person’s life!
Resources and Interesting Readings:
Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 255-260.Brewer_Cyberbullying_Self-esteem_Empathy_Loneliness.pdf
Halligan, J., & Halligan, K. (2003). Ryan’s story presentation. Retrieved from http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/
Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2015). Developing a positive school climate: Top ten tips to prevent bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja_Patchin_School-Climate-Top-Ten-Tips-To-Prevent-Cyberbullying.pdf
Struglinski, S. (2006, August 18). Schoolyard bullying has gone high-tech | Deseret news. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/645194065/Schoolyard-bullying-has-gone-high-tech.html
Tokunaga, R.S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 277-287.
UCLA. (2016). Cyberbullying among students – UCLA school mental health project. Retrieved from http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/cyber.pdf