The main point of this week’s assignment was learning the various aspects and outcomes of cyberbullying.  Learning how to spot the behaviors of both the victim and the bully has changed with the introduction of social media.  As a teacher, I could spot the bullies on the playground and in the classroom.  Now, I hear about the cyberbullying straight from the students.  Through my research, I’ve also learned that girls are more often cyberbullied than boys.

My definition of cyberbullying is a person who is aggressive and intentionally posts something online that is intentionally offensive.  This is not just a one time post because teens of say offensive things to others, but it is a behavior that is repeated multiple times with the intent to harm the victim either emotionally or physically.  Any type of bullying can lead to violence and violent behaviors.  The victim is truly in fear of the control that the bully has in the “relationship”.

Teens use social media as a platform to share pictures, ideas, life events, and social activities. They use this platform as a means to fit in with the regular crowd.  They feel “liked” or popular by how many comments and likes they receive.  Most teens don’t abuse this privilege.  But some may be vulnerable to cyberbullying by posting a picture of themselves as an innocent post.  Then a bully will post something cruel and hateful which leads to a downward spiral for the victim.  Unfortunately, by posting inappropriate pictures and comments, these students are leaving a negative digital footprint.

I enjoyed this week’s TedTalk by Monica Lewinski.  She was very up-front and honest about her feelings and her mistakes.  But, she managed to rise above the “shame game” by creating a new outcome for her life.  We can all create a different ending to your story by THINKING before posting, speaking, blogging, etc.  Honestly, the only thing we can do for others is to offer sincere compassion to those who have been shamed.  Also, don’t perpetuate the shame with rude or mean comments and remarks.  Don’t purposefully put anything online that will potentially come back and harm you or your family.  The “shame game” can turn into a physical ailment and emotional issues for the victim.  I really felt sorry for Monica when she told the horrific event of having to listen to her own recorded voice.  These recordings will be stored forever!  Can you imagine the memories?  How embarrassing to know that those conversations weren’t private anymore and who knows how many people had/have access to the conversations.

In my school district, students and parents have to sign our AUP and abide by the rules.  I’ve seen first hand how “innocent” posts can turn into a massive battle between friends and family.  Personally, I’ve had friends and family post pictures from years ago that have hurt me emotionally.  Although they were meant to be posted as a fun joke, it really hurts and brings back painful memories.

In conclusion, if we want cyberbullying to end, we must start teaching proper digital citizenship at home as soon as we allow our children to “play” with tablets, iPads, and online games.  Then as teachers, we need to continue our education on cyberbullying and share information with our students.  Although compassion should be taught at home, we must model and reinforce this with our students and co-workers daily.

Resources:

http://www.cyberbullying.us

http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U

References:

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

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Cyberbullying legislation and case law: Implications for school policy and practice. Cyberbullying Research Center. Cyberbullying Legislation and Case Law.pdf