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Sexual Bullying: Intimidation and Coercion on the Playground, Online and in the Media

Nov 17 2017in Home Page, Whats New admin Comments Off on Sexual Bullying: Intimidation and Coercion on the Playground, Online and in the Media

Sexual bullying is a form of bullying and harassment that humiliates a person physically, verbally or emotionally.  It includes unwanted touching, pinching, grabbing or slapping of body parts that are often downplayed by boys and girls. While it may be the first attempt at flirtation, the target may experience toxic shame.  This type of bullying is covert, underreported, overlooked by adults and happening every day on school campuses and online.

What we see now in Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and influential men in banking media and congress, is merely a droplet in a very large pool of people who have used their power to intimidate, devalue and manipulate those that yield less power.

Bullying by definition is an imbalance of power and just like harassment, it is not consensual.  When girls tear each other apart, they usually make fun of another girls’ body or spread rumors about a real or perceived sexual encounter. A very common tale is spreading that someone is bisexual, gay or a lesbian.

These types of rumors have devastating consequences. At a time when girls are developing and are grappling with their feelings, wanting to fit in can become more important than standing up for someone who is being bullied.

In many cases, being a bystander can leave as many emotional scars as being the target of bullying. And not knowing how to intervene or what to do when you are a target of bullying can be humiliating. According to experts, more than half of bullying stops when someone intervenes. (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001). Middle school girls are more likely to speak up but become less confident when no action is taken to stop bullying by adults.

While gossiping and spreading rumors is more common among girls, boys put more pressure on girls to send them a naked or a semi-naked photo otherwise known as sexting. Boys are more likely to disseminate these sexts to their friends when they breakup.

The consequences of sexting can be devastating and have resulted in many girls taking their own lives. The peer pressure to send sexts is very real. Think of it now as the equivalent of going steady. Sending a sext is very common among middle school and high school students today, and it is a way for boys and girls to show that they like each other.

Not going along with peer pressure can make you stand out, which is far worst for many girls than snapping a photo. In today’s fast-paced world, where youth are gleaning more of their self-worth from Instagram, celebrities and their environment, they need to learn proactive social skills and empathy to help them thrive.

Beyond Bullies works with schools, hospitals, counseling centers, city and county employees to identify, prevent and handle bullying.  For more information or to schedule a training, contact Melissa Sherman, Executive Director of Beyond Bullies at Melissa@beyondbullies.org.

 

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Confessions of an ex-Bully

Jun 25 2016in Home Page, Whats New adminTags: , , , , , ,
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Confessions of an ex- bully

On many occasions, I have acted with hostile intent toward another. I have never expressed myself through physical aggression, but I have often used violent words against others. I have remained silent when I could have spoken up. I have reinforced belief systems that say certain people are better than others. I actively participated in a culture that valued the stereotypical- that is the beautiful, the wealthy and the powerful. To be cool was my primary purpose. Why did I do this? I wanted to be seen as all of the above. I wanted to be all of the above. I was unable to see my value in life without other people’s approval.

I excluded people from things I wanted to do and became deeply resentful if someone tagged along with my crowd who wasn’t a good representation of what I wanted to be associated with. I would be cold and indifferent, avoiding any intimacy. I would quickly find ways to get rid of them, and condemn them behind their backs. I considered outsiders, trying to get inside, as wannabes. They irritated me and their efforts embarrassed me. Why? Because I was just like them. I too felt like an outsider trying to get in. They reminded me of me- I detested the reflection. My personal effort to “belong” involved extreme dieting, years of bulimia, editing what I said to avoid judgment, editing what I wore to seem “cool”… I didn’t participate in school activities that were considered weird, I forged an identity according to the status quo and let everyone else define me.

I treated many of the people I went to high school with indifference, with a “justified” apathy. It was only years later I heard that my detachment had actually affected someone. A friend informed me that his brother’s girlfriend had attended school with me. She remembers me as a bully. Upon hearing this I felt defensive, but the truth eventually settled in. She was a victim of a culture with persecuted you for being different. I was a perpetrator of this culture. At best I kept silent and didn’t stand up for those who were struggling, at worst I wanted them to struggle. She didn’t tick all the boxes that we demanded you tick to be cool- therefore I treated her as inferior for my entire time in school. No, I didn’t say it to her face or taunt her actively. But I passively made her life hard, and for that, I take full responsibility.

What made me change? I suppose life happened and it served me a lot of humble pie. I struggled with alcoholism, ruined all my friendships and got asked to leave my educational institutions. I hit a dark bottom; emotionally, physically and spiritually.  At 19 I decided to try a new way of life, a sober one. As a result, I have made a full commitment to making amends for the harm I have caused others. In the past 4.5 years, I have really examined my part in the various judgments, resentments, and negativity I had fallen prey to. I see the ugliness of a life lived trying to meet standards that are not fair. I see the value of being kind, of trying to treat everyone as equal- of trying to get to know someone who I might initially see as “different”.

Whenever I am disturbed I am responsible for that disturbance, and it is my commitment to live from love, not from fear. When my fear says- run! Judge! Gossip! Love says stay, be curious, speak kindly. Ultimately, what helped me change was this: I realized that my desire to be beautiful, powerful and strong is not the problem. The issue lay in my definition of what it meant to be beautiful, powerful and strong. I saw beauty as a certain weight, a certain external aesthetic quality…having beautiful friends, meeting the standards of those who are living in denial or fear. I saw power in other people’s protection, and strength in the appearance of strength. Whatever the majority called strong, I called strong. I then dressed myself to look the part and threw nasty glances at everyone who failed to do so too. I was mad because it had cost me so much of my integrity to meet the standards of the dominant paradigm.

Today I see beauty in kindness, in compassion, in being original – in not living according to standards that reproduce prejudice, domination, and cruelty. I see power in humility, in striving to be true to myself. In being authentic. For what it’s worth, I have always admired the brave- before I ever knew I could be brave myself. Courage is not a feeling- it’s a choice, an action. I admire those who stand up for other people in the face of adversity. True strength lies in treating others as equals- regardless of race, creed, color, weight, class, sex, it lies in owning your own stuff. In asking yourself what motivates you. Fear or love, fear or love? One life- how do I want to live it?

I was miserable condemning people for not meeting standards that were flawed to start with. What sort of life is a life that demands you look a certain way, have a certain amount of money…the right sort of friends? I couldn’t decide what environment I was born into, what color my skin was, how tall I was back then or how tall I am now! How dare I make someone feel ashamed of any of the above? It says a lot more about me than it does about them!

I was useless at sport, just didn’t have the right coordination skills. The people who loved me anyway, despite my lack of coordination paved the way for me to treat others with the same respect. If only there were more people who could see past the badge of honor we wear for all the wrong reasons in high school, to the stuff that actually counts. I was ashamed of who I was. Thankfully I know better today, and try to live better. I try to be a woman of integrity and I build self-esteem by taking estimable acts. I am no longer ashamed of who I am, but this is contingent on me continuing to behave in a way that is loving, tolerant and open minded. In practicing self-honesty and honesty with others. For me, having the mindset of a bully left me miserable and lonely. I am sure it contributed to my alcohol abuse and undoubtedly left me with a lot of self-loathing.

I lacked consciousness of my behavior on many occasions. Unwittingly I made choices that hurt others I was at school with. Once I got sober and started to value consciousness, (we only have one life- why not be awake for it?), I developed greater empathy, compassion, and consideration. I don’t have to be drunk to be living half blind and asleep, and it is within everyone’s power to try and be present. Trying is all I can ever claim to do! Through trying to be present I have discovered that life is riveting, beautiful, fast and unpredictable. I realized there was a lot more thrill in being unconventional, in standing up for decency and in fighting bigoted tyranny.

The weak ones are the bullies, the hostile and the judgmental. The ones who proclaim strength and trample all over people who are unable to defend themselves. And I was one of them, driven by my need to be a cool kid. Thank God I realized that life is too short to be living from fear, living from a need to protect what would fade anyway. Material things will come and go, looks will fade, power relations will shift- but what remains is our connection to self and others. I believe in being the best version of myself, someone who I am proud to hold hands with every day for my entire life. I am not proud of being a bully, but I am proud of being someone who takes a stand against it.

 

Written by, Scarlett Moberly

 

 

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Dealing with Hate in the Classroom

Sep 13 2015in Home Page, Whats New adminTags: , , , , , ,
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Dealing with Hate in the Class and School
Posted by carfamily under education, educators, home schooling, student teacher, teachers, teaching | Tags: hate |
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Dealing with Hate in the Classroom
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Almost every classroom has incidents where a prevailing moment reveals hate. This is not unusual, but it is a teachable moment. A very teachable moment for the parent or educator willing to take the time to consider the various cause and effects aspects and act accordingly. This is where experience pays. In many cases the issue has surfaced previously and the actions taken at that time may have worked, if nothing else by pure luck. However, the speediest method is to gloss over the episode, push the incident into the future, and move on with the lesson at hand.

It is important to note that criticism is not hate. One of the most counterproductive comment is that a criticism of something is being negative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Calling someone negative may make the caller feel better, as name calling frequently does, but in fact, the name caller is the one being negative. Criticism is meant to improve something. It may not be accurate, but it is certainly needs to be carefully studied as it roots can reveal a great deal about how others see an issue and fresh viewpoints can result in positive improvements. There is a quote by Robert Ingersloll. We Rise by Lifting Others that reads, “Being critical means one cares.” That being said, negativity may just be the result of not being able to see another person’s point of view. In A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy there is a segment where a gun is revealed whose sole purpose if to fire at someone and inflict on them the ability to see things from the gunner’s point of view. A very valuable weapon. I am sure that every teacher would own one for classroom use.

Hating is something difficult to evade. For example, if you are a good teacher and someone acknowledges that there may be another who feels he or she is just as good they could turn that feeling into hate. A great deal of hate can be traced to someone being jealous of another and seeing that individual’s success as not deserved. Something as simple as someone getting a better grade can result in negative, hateful remarks. Being successful nurtures hate. Call it human nature. Even those who profess religious tolerance and obedience have difficulty avoiding hatred. Here are several quotes from the Bible about hate
http://www.openbible.info/topics/hate

This is not to delve into the freedom of speech quandary over hate. That is another issue. This essay is about how to deal with hate based on your background and those of the individuals involved to the best of your ability. To mention the fact that dealing with hate is complex is an understatement. At best dealing with hate in a productive manner can nullify, perhaps for the moment, hate and turn it into a lesson that others may benefit from. In other words, a teachable moment.

The number one rule when dealing with hate is that although it is universal, it is not universal. In other words, not everyone hates someone or something, but someone is going to hate. Indeed, that is what makes people so attuned to it. You can have 35 students in your classroom but the one who hates you is the one who gets your attention. And since hate is usually learned, it may well mean that his or her parents may also support that hate. So your ignore the good and turn to the squeaky wheel that needs attention . So rule number one is to confront the issue by trying to find out the cause. That does not mean you have to agree with the cause, but you need to understand what caused it before you react. One of the most dramatic causes is that haters may feel that they are the center of the world. It revolves around them and this may well be fermented and brewed at home. At school it can be a leading cause of bulling. Bullying is essentially a display of hate for others that must be learned behavior. Babies are not born with it, to the best of my knowledge. Bullying is encouraged by those whose self-esteem is built upon expressing their disdain for others. It could be a fear of being low man on the totem pole or the belief that putting someone down enables their status and enables them a step up on their self-esteem chart. Thus is it imperative that you find out the cause of the hate by asking the hater for his or her feelings on the manner. They may not know why, but by opening their eyes to the possible results of their actions it may stop hating in the future. I broke up a student fight one day and after pulling the two participants apart asked them what caused it. One boy said the other deserved it. The other boy had no idea what caused it. I warned and dismissed them with the usual warning. I didn’t make it a teachable moment. I regret that now. What if I would have sat down with both of them to get to the bottom of the disagreement? Maybe nothing would be resolved, but at least they would understand each other better and I wouldn’t have to get my Hitchhiker gun.

Lesson number two is not to let hate get the better of you. Google fight reveals that there are 100 negative student comments to one positive comment. Although not clearly an academic study, it does reveal that is negative clearly gets more attention. I had an assistant superintendent of instruction who didn’t like me at all despite my successes or, perhaps, because of them. When I was being interviewed for a mentor position she asked me what day would be best. I said that Wednesday wouldn’t be good for me knowing that I had classes on the other days. She told me that Wednesday was the only day she could make it. I told her I would try and make arrangements. I took great pride on how I didn’t let her hate get the better of me. Of course I was rejected, but her use of her position enabled her to do so and left me powerless overall. This is the same bullying that rears its ugly head when students who are viewed as more popular use their “power” to regale others with negative views. Learning how to deal with hate sometimes requires a support group, but always requires the individual learn how to cope without endangering themselves mentally or physically.

Lesson number three is to not underestimate the danger of hate. It lingers and can cause damage to all concerned. Glossing over even something as simply as name calling can manifest itself in lifetime of harm and thoughts of retaliation. Indeed, there is a clear need for a battle plan for dealing with hate. First, invest in a good anti-bullying campaign such as http://beyondbullies.org/ and use it for the entire school. Using peers is always best as there is inherit mistrust of adults by some. Secondly, there should be a procedure to follow and it should be part of a staff development plan. First, investigate the cause or causes. Secondly, don’t make judgments. Third, don’t blame. Fourth, support both parties by educating them to the potential impact of their acts. Fourth, make a time line to follow up with those involved. Don’t let the matter drop. Finally, see how widespread this hate might be. Talking to students without naming names can provide depth.

Often time the problem with finding the cause of hate isn’t easy to ascertain. Online videos of students who have been bullied or the victim of hate are shown and yet students frequently miss the point. They think it was terrible, no doubt, especially if the featured child commits suicide. But they don’t understand that people react differently to hate. Was it the child’s fault that he or she couldn’t “take it?” Studies of the impact of hate on an individuals all point to its negative and dangerous nature. What is missing is what should have been done to stop it. There are many instances where a student or parent complained to the school and nothing was done. Unfortunately, it was probably because those involved were too busy, thought they had solved the problem, or wanted the problem to go away. So the final rule is get feedback and act on it. I would suggest that dealing with bullying and hate be part of standardized testing. Having students read about it and write conclusions clearly fits into Common Core standards and yet such reading lessons are non-existent at present.

Last rule: You must do an anti-hate/bullying program school wide using a quality program. Everyone must be involved from classified to certified in the training. Changing attitudes is not a one assembly or staff development program. That is why it is critical to have administration support such causes with time and funding. A district wide policy would be even more effective. Using student mentors is essential as well. And, to gain the maximum benefit the program should give students the opportunity to write about concerns and learn how to deal with them. The program should develop a cadre of students who are trained to help curtain hate and bullying.

Conclusion: Haters are going to hate. They get satisfaction from that and the notoriety may provide the support they need to continue to spread hate. When you see images, read articles, and listen to rhetoric against groups or individuals by adults you have to question what happened to them in life and in school that empowered them to be so hateful. Perhaps just one teacher’s caring remarks and follow up might have made the difference. Regardless, the issue of dealing with hate should be part of every teacher preparation program and every district’s mission statement. There are rules of behavior posted in nearly every school room and yet there are few posted about hate and bullying. Perhaps it is time to move dealing with hate up a notch in the curriculum hierarchy and treat it as a crime against humanity.

https://carfamily.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/dealing-with-hate-in-the-classroom/

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Cyberbullying in Video Games

Feb 1 2015in Home Page, Whats New admin Comments Off on Cyberbullying in Video Games

Bullying in the Gaming World

On any number of gaming sites or gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, which have the option to connect to the Internet, bullying has become so common between players that one only has to do a simple search to find horrifying stories online about young men, sending disgusting and violent threats both verbally and through a private messaging system. Most of the games are set in war-ravaged scenes or medieval battlegrounds where players attempt to shoot each other.  This creates a hostile environment where players bully each other in order to maintain power and control over other players.

A lot of tension is induced among players and the higher their rank is, the more competitive they tend to become, fearing the loss of their edge over the other players. Women account for forty-nine percent of U.S. gamers, and twenty-five percent of U.S. gamers are under the age of twenty-one.

According to a 2013 study from Ohio University, when a female player in Halo 3, a first-person shooting game, greeted her fellow player, she would be called names like whore and slut. Verbal sparring on forums leads to harassment and abuse, putting young people at particular risk as they are growing up with advancing technology but lack the knowledge to deal with cyberbullying. Players with higher scores tend to be very protective of their gaming avatars (Internet representation of themselves), and if an online gamer has invested hundreds or thousands of hours into his avatar online character or position in a game universe, there can be a significant emotional attachment at stake.

A study by researchers at Simmons College published in the 2011 spring/summer edition of the Journal of Children and Media looked at the development of moral reasoning among children ages 7 to 15 and found that children who play violent video games believe that some forms of violence are acceptable or even right. That is not to say that they will all participate in bullying, but it is the individual’s attitude that matters.

This pro-aggression attitude promotes bullying and harassment. In fact, having feelings is not considered to be cool, so it becomes okay to indulge in hurtful expressions online, including racism, homophobia and misogyny. Gamers who spend a lot of time in their online avatars develop an emotional attachment to their online persona.

Methods of Attacking

1. Griefers-Players who choose specific fellow players to target in the game. They also engage in aggressive behavior outside the parameters of the game, sending threatening messages and posting aggressive comments on public forums.

2. Threats and Harassment-Any game connected to the internet allows players to contact each other through private messages, chat rooms or public forums. People with differing opinions or malicious intent use these to send explicit messages, threats or sexually harass other players.

3. Hacking-Stealing a child’s gaming password and hack into their account. The hacker can send negative messages to people on the victim’s friends list, virtually isolating the owner of the account from the other players with whom they have been playing. In addition, the hacker can lock the owner out of his account by changing the password and other details, effectively pushing the victim out of his game altogether.

4. Virus-Viruses are a real risk when it comes to playing games online. Because chat boxes are prevalent in these situations, bullies and other people who are looking to cause trouble online can post links and include codes that can lead to an infection on other users’ computers. While some of these links and codes are posted where anyone can click on them, some online bullies will target a specific player in the game and send this information privately in an attempt to disable or damage that person’s computer.

How to Protect Yourself

The problem has become so dire it has prompted major corporations to respond. Microsoft even created a new type of system for reporting player harassment and behavior for the Xbox One console. If you are being targeted, you can block certain users from interacting with you. Many companies provide a formal complaint process, through which users maybe be warned, suspended or banned. Potential bullies need to know that consequences exist, while parents should talk to kids about using technology responsibly and acting appropriately online.

If you see someone bullying in a chat room or other public forums, do not be a bystander. Instead take action against the bully, even if the target of bullying doesn’t. Today the target is someone else, but tomorrow it could be you.

You should talk to your parents if you are facing bullying in online gaming. However, if the bullying leads to rape threats or threats of bodily harm, you should consider police action against the bully.  For that, it is best to save all interaction through screenshots and give the folder to the police.

 

Written by, Ravneet Sandhu

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Anti-Bullying Video Competition Open to Middle School and High School Students

Jul 27 2014in Home Page admin Comments Off on Anti-Bullying Video Competition Open to Middle School and High School Students

1st-annual-video-competition

Click here for entry form.

                   Sponsors

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Ask.fm- Dangerous Combination of Anonymity and the Internet

Jul 2 2014in Home Page, Uncategorized admin Comments Off on Ask.fm- Dangerous Combination of Anonymity and the Internet

 

Ask.fm is a simple site which allows users to ask and answer questions. But there is one catch- and that’s what makes it all the more popular- the questions can be asked anonymously. So whether kids want to know who their real friends are, or if their crush is single, or whether they are pretty, they ask these questions, hoping for positive answers. But most often, the answers are derogatory, hurtful or crude.

The Internet is the classic example of being tough and mean in front of the screen, but minding your words in public. Anonymity and the Internet do not go hand-in-hand and yet people tend to write something they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

The Latvia-based site, Ask.fm has recently told its followers on Twitter that it plans to never release the information of anyone who posts to the site. This works as a safety net to cyber-bullies; one can post anything they want, from downright nasty questions to telling people to kill themselves, and the victim will never be able to know the identity of the person.

It seems, most of the victims actually know their tormentors – the site has links to Facebook and Twitter, and they invite their friends to come on Ask.fm and ask them questions, further widening the amount of people who can see their posts.  Emboldened in front of the computer screen, total anonymity promised, cyber-bullies can post whatever they like without the slightest fear of repercussions.

Ask.fm, unlike other social media sites, had a complete lack of any tracking or parental control processes.  ‘Flaming’ or the act of sending or posting offensive messages online is perhaps more common than civility on this site. In a recent survey, which sampled 10,008 young people, aged between 13 – 22 years old (of which 67% were from the UK, 17% from the USA, 12% from Australia and 4% from other countries), it has been found that 7 out of 10 users have been the victims of cyber-bullying, and Ask.fm joins social media giants like Facebook and Twitter as the most common sites the bullies target.

Ask. fm requires users to be at least 13, but younger kids lie about their age to use it. A video option is also available, where the user answers the question using a web-cam, providing users with an opportunity to tag other users by putting @ symbol followed by the username.

A function to disable anonymous questions has been introduced, but all posts are by default public. There are privacy controls, but even non-users can view the answers and the questions. There seems to be no way around this unsafe feature; once you post something, it will be there for everyone to see.  There does seem to be some things that this site is doing right. Users and even non-users can report a post if they find it to be offensive.  When you move your mouse over any post on someone else’s profile, you will see an option to like the post and also a drop down arrow which allows you to report the post for one of four reasons.

And it also possible to block users-by scrolling to the bottom of their profile page and clicking on block. Users can also remove any questions from their own profile by clicking on the cross in the top right hand corner of every question and answer. For more information on how to be safe on the site click this.

One unfortunate feature related to Ask.fm cyber bullying is the ability of users of the site to “hack” the site to ascertain the identities of anonymous users of the site to continue the “conversation.” According to Google, there are many ways to achieve this. At one point, there was also an Android app to help get around the anonymity.

There have been cases, in which the cyber-bullying on Ask.fm took such a drastic turn, that it ended up driving nine young people to suicide. One of them, Hannah Smith, was bullied even after her suicide, with mean comments written underneath her photos on social media. The family of Anthony Stubb, another teen who hanged himself after cease-less cyber-bullying on the site, have called for the website to shut down.

Prominent report buttons were added after the site came under intense pressure from concerned parents after Hannah’s suicide. More staff was also hired to deal with abusive messages and a separate website created with information for parents, termed as a partial victory by Hannah’s grieving father.

 

Written by Ravneet Sandhu, volunteer Beyond Bullies

 

 

 

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Cyberbullying: Is it the Wild West of the Internet?

Dec 1 2010in Home Page admin Comments Off on Cyberbullying: Is it the Wild West of the Internet?

Q&A with Les Parsons

Q: What exactly is cyberbullying?

A: Cyberbullying is the intentional attempt to harm someone else through information and communication technologies. Usually, harmful texts or images are posted via email, cell phone, instant messaging, Blogs, or chat rooms. Cyberbullying usually occurs more than once. A single episode, of course, can be devastating to the targeted individual.

Q:  How are cyberbullying and bullying related?   

A:  While cyberbullying may be related to other forms of face-to-face bullying, each  incident needs to be understood on its own terms. One person, for example, may be targeted at school as well as online. Another student may be targeted at school and retaliate online. Still another individual, targeted at school, may disclose online their anger or depression.

Q:  What forms can cyberbullying take?

A:  Young people need to understand the kinds of bullying they may meet online. If they have met any of the following kinds of behaviours, they are being bullied:

  • harassment (repeatedly bothering or tormenting someone, often with hurtful and offensive notes)
  • bad-mouthing (claiming that someone is a bad person by attacking their character or reputation, often by posting rumors or gossip)
  • impersonation (pretending to be someone else and trying to get them into trouble)
  • rejection (trying to turn a group against someone and repeatedly leaving them out of things)
  • outing (posting a secret or embarrassing information or image)
  • threatening (trying to frighten someone by revealing that you may say or do something to harm them; if someone is bothered, tormented, or threatened so badly or so often that they become afraid for their safety, the term cyberstalking is sometimes used)

(Flaming or sending messages with extremely angry, disgusting, or mean-spirited language are an inappropriate behavior that is relatively common online; in extreme or repeated occurrences, it may be deemed to be cyberbullying.)

Q: Why are people so reluctant to get help with cyberbullying?

A:  In spite of the distress, fear, and emotional and social damage suffered by students online, they are notoriously reluctant to report incidents of cyberbullying. The number one reason, of course, is that they expect that parents will unduly supervise or severely restrict their online activity.  Some teenagers believe not using their cell phone or computers, seems to be a fate worse than the bullying they endure while they are there.

Many students hold the mistaken belief that there are no rules on the internet: therefore, bullies think they can say anything they want. In the same vein, students may have been targeted while engaging in risky or unwise behaviours online, behaviour they may rationalize as permitted in the “wild west” environment of the internet but still punishable by their parents. Finally, just as in real life, targets may feel that if the bully gets in trouble, the friends of the bully might retaliate.

Q: What can teenagers do to protect themselves from cyberbullying?

A:  Young people should “cyberproof” their behaviours, from protecting personal information of all kinds to “netiquette.” The number one rule, of course, is never to put anything online that would allow someone to find the person in real life. Young people need to understand that they aren't invisible online.

When a person is bullied, they should not immediately respond to the attack; the cyberbully loses power if the attack has been ignored. If the targets want to respond after an interval has passed, they should reflect on what they want to say, in what form they want to say it, and why they want to say it. Then challenge the bully from the strength of that reflection.

Les is the author of numerous books, including The Classroom Troubleshooter and Grammarama. His latest book is, Bullied Teacher: Bullied Student.  For more information, contact Les at clifpar@rogers.com.

By Melissa Sherman, Executive Director, Beyond Bullies

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