"Cyberbullying" happens when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child. Students are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment because they are bored and have many tech toys available to them. Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident have to differ. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" when cyberbullying is concerned.
The methods used are limited only by the child's imagination and access to technology. Children often change roles, going from victim to bully and back again. Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication. Children usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about bad language used by children than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts.
School can be very effective in working with parents to stop cyberbullying situations. They can also educate the students on cyber ethics and the law.
Steps taken by our district to protect students from cyber bullying:
- We have developed rules and policies that prohibit the use of district computers and technologies at school to bully others.
- Teachers have been trained through the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
- We have procedures for reporting bullying and for intervening and addressing bullying as it occurs and when it's reported.
- We continue to work with local law enforcement and other appropriate agencies to address these issues when needed.
- Parents need to be the one trusted place that children can go when things go wrong online and offline. Most children, though, will avoid telling their parents about a cyberbullying incident fearing they will only make things worse. Avoid overreacting.
- Take it seriously. Parents need to be supportive knowing that cyber attacks can have a lasting negative effect.
- Let the school know so the school counselor can keep an eye out for in-school bullying.
- Two things to consider before responding to a cyberbullying incident: 1-Is your child at risk of physical harm or assault? 2-How are they handling the attacks emotionally?
- "Friend" your child on Facebook.
- Check your child's cell phone regularly for pictures and texts.
- If your child is being harassed via text message, instant message, voicemail, or email, DON'T erase or delete.
- Contact the website, server, or cell phone company and file a complaint.
- If your child is being threatened or a crime has been committed, contact law enforcement.
Below are websites with more information and resources on cyber bullying:
Our district will continue to address the problem of bullying/cyberbullying through both prevention and swift response. Additional resources for parents include ongoing website information and ongoing review of Acceptable Use Policies.
Please feel free to contact your school principal or school counselor if you have a question or concern related to bullying in any of its forms.