Posts Tagged ‘Cyberbullying’

In Case of a School Massacre the Whiteboards Will Make it Out Unharmed

April 24, 2013

Bulletproof Whiteboards Minnesota

Let’s not beat around the bush, bulletproof whiteboards is a stunt rather than a genuine idea. It is designed to give parents a false sense of comfort during difficult times. Whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with that, I would rather see them get a real sense of comfort instead.

Schools investing in these whiteboards would be better served in focusing on ways to make their school inviting and relevant to each and every student. This includes making any existing bullying and cyberbullying a issue of first priority. This also includes making every student feel valued, cared for, important and necessary.

Schools which can earn the respect and trust of its students have a lot less to worry about than schools with reinforced whiteboards:

A Minnesota school district where two students were killed in a 2003 shooting unveiled a new device Tuesday aimed at adding a last-ditch layer of safety for teachers and students: bulletproof whiteboards.

The Rocori School District has acquired nearly 200 of the whiteboards, made of a material touted by its manufacturer as stronger than that in police-issue bulletproof vests. The 18-by-20-inch whiteboards can be used by teachers for instruction and used as a shield in an emergency.

Police Chief Phil Jones demonstrated the whiteboards Tuesday in a school gym by leveling a karate kick at one, whacking it with a police baton and stabbing it with a knife – all with no apparent effect.

Jones didn’t fire his gun at the whiteboard, saying it would have been unsafe and inappropriate at the school. But he said he’d tested it earlier by firing several rounds at it.

“We put this board to the test, and quite frankly, that was the day I became a believer,” Jones said.

 

Click on the link to read My Heart Bleeds for Children Who Are Exploited

Click on the link to read The People Who “Liked” This Should be Struck Off Facebook

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Click on the link to read Don’t Look for Rolemodels from Our Sporting Stars

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Kid Gets Bullied Prior to TV Interview about Being Bullied

October 11, 2012

If there was one time you’d think that a bullied student would be able to breathe easily, it is right before a live interview discussing his experiences as a victim of bullying:

Preston Deener, a sophomore at Brunswick High School in Maryland, was the victim of a bullying attack just as he was preparing for an on-camera interview with a local television station about his experience being bullied.

WHAG’s news team was readying a camera when three boys approached, one of whom began hitting 15-year-old Preston in the head and chased him across a busy street.

“The student came up to me and pushed me out of the way and said, ‘What are you recording?'” Preston said. “All of sudden, the student was chasing me and I needed help.”

“I was shocked,” WHAG reporter Katie Kyros said of the attack. “They didn’t even care that I was standing there and yelling at them.”

Preston’s mother, Cheryl Deener told News4 that her son has been bullied since the sixth grade. He has also been victim to cyberbullying on Twitter. Last week, Preston fought back for the first time after another boy tackled him in gym class. He was suspended for three days, but the attacking student was not.

 

Click on the link to read The Rise of Teacher Approved Bullying (Video)

Click on the link to read Nowadays There is Nowhere to Hide From Bullies

Click on the link to read Social Media: A Playground for Bullies

Click on the link to read Charity Pays for Teen’s Plastic Surgery to Help Stop Bullying

Should Schools Intervene to Stop Cyberbullying?

August 11, 2012

Schools need to decide what they represent. Are they merely a place for learning or are they also a place where students can feel safe and secure. If the latter is true, schools must do everything in their power to protect their students, regardless of whether the fight is online, offline, on school property or in the local mall.

Unfortunately, some school officials see it differently:

In reviewing its existing bullying and cyber bullying policies during Monday night’s meeting, administrators and school board members discussed what role the district should play in cyber bullying, particularly when purported bullying takes place out of school.

“I don’t think we need to be the police and the DA’s office for everybody,” board member Louis Polaneczky said. “Have we done enough to exclude things that really aren’t our jurisdiction?”

A caring school will make it their jurisdiction!

Click on the link to read Psychologist Claims Cyberbullying Concerns are Exaggerated

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Rely on Free Speech Shouldn’t be Teachers

Click on the link to read Bullying is Acceptable when it’s Directed to a Teacher

Click on the link to read Punish Bullies and Then Change Your Culture

The Impact of Social Media on Kids

May 13, 2012

I agree with many of Jim Steyer’s points in regard to the need to educate children about using the personal setting on Facebook, as well as the addiction issues relating to children and social media. I am a big fan of his suggested “erase” button, which would enable children to delete any uploaded information they regretted putting on their pages.

Facebook’s big stock offering on Wall Street must be followed by an intensive debate on Main Street about social media’s powerful impact on children, an expert on the topic says.

Jim Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco think tank focusing on media and families, said the technology that Facebook represents is having “an enormous impact” on youngsters, families and schools worldwide.

“We need to have a big national, if not global conversation about the pros and cons of that,” Steyer, a father of four who is also a civil rights lawyer and Stanford University professor, told AFP in an interview.

While social media such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter offer “extraordinary possibilities” in such areas as education, he said, “there are also real downsides in a social, emotional and cogitative development way.”

Steyer was in Washington to promote his just-published book “Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age,” which argues for greater parental involvement in their children’s online lives.

“Whether we like it or not, kids are now spending far more time with media and technology than they are with their families or in school,” – as much as eight hours a day on average in the United States alone, he wrote.

Children face the triple peril of what Steyer calls RAP – relationship issues, attention and addiction problems, and privacy issues – as well as cyberbullying, online pornography and, for girls, body image fears.

“There is an arms race for data, and to build things as fast as possible … but that’s not a great strategy when you’re talking about kids,” he said, accusing tech outfits for “not respecting the concept of privacy.”

Earlier this week, a Consumer Reports survey found nearly 13 million US Facebook users – out of 157 million, and 900 million worldwide – do not use, or are not aware of, the site’s privacy controls.

Girls are especially vulnerable, Steyer said, with studies indicating that many body-conscious teens are photoshopping images of themselves so as to look thinner and score more “likes” among their friends.

On a governmental level, Steyer suggested the United States follow Europe’s lead in privacy regulation and introduce an “eraser button” enabling users to wipe off anything they might have posted in the past.

“We need clear and simple rules (around privacy) for the tech companies, too, because right now they’ve dominated the debate and they’ve set the rules themselves,” he said.

But the immediate responsibility, he said, falls on moms and dads.

“It’s part of parenting 2.0 today, so you have to do your homework,” he said.

“You have to actually learn the rules of the road… and then you have to set clear and simple limits for kids, set clear rules of behaviour – and you have to be a role model.

“If you’re constantly addicted to your cellphone or your ‘CrackBerry’ then that’s not sending a very good message to your kids.”

Parents of Underage Facebook Users Should Be Reported: Principal

May 7, 2012

I am a big advocate of Facebook’s age requirement specifications. Children under 13 have no place having a Facebook page. They are simply too young to manage a Facebook page with maturity.

As much as I approve of the age requirements, everyone knows that underage kids have no difficulties getting their Facebook page and Primary schools are teaming with underage Facebook users. This poses deep concerns from a cybersafety and cyberbullying point of view.

However, to suggest that parents of underage children should be reported to child services, both cheapens the important role that child services play in the welfare of our children and labels well-meaning but naive parents as incompetent and unfit for the job:

The issue of underage children creating profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and how to control it can be a problem for both privacy and security — something one UK principal apparently believes should be taken further.

Sister site CNet reports that as there are so many underage children on Facebook — signed up with or without parental consent — one educator believes official, legal consequences for breaking the rules should be put in place.

The school principal of St. Whites School in the Forest of Dean, Paul Woodward, has reason to believe over half of the students in his school are on social networking sites including Facebook. However, the problem is that St. Whites School’s attending students are between the ages of 4 and 11 — far below Facebook’s minimum age in relation to its Terms of Service.

Woodward, speaking to the Daily Mail, believes this issue is serious, and it may be something that official channels should become involved in:

“It’s illegal for you to do this, you shouldn’t be doing it for your child. You need to close down that account, or I might have to tell the safeguarding people that you are exposing your child to stuff that’s not suitable.”

The ’safeguarding people’ are child-protection services, usually reserved for cases of abuse, domestic problems or suspicions of violence. Perhaps this could be considered a drastic move, but as online networks often contain material not suitable for children of a certain age, the logic is understandable. If parents facilitate their child’s access to such networks, then perhaps they can be considered culpable.

A survey completed earlier this year by company Minor Monitor indicated that while over 70 percent of parents were concerned with their child’s activities on Facebook, 38 percent of all children on the social networking site are under 13 — and 4 percent are under 6 years of age.

Facebook says it removes approximately 20,000 underage users daily, but it is also important to note that parents are creating profiles for their children. New parents — you may want to remove that profile you created for your baby. (They probably won’t appreciated their baby photos being online once they’ve grown anyway).

Educating parents is a far more workable strategy than threatening them. I have never heard of a Principal who has gone public with a threat to report half the parents in their school to social services. That’s courage for you!

I commend Mr. Woodward for his conviction and his desire to see that his students stay safe and follow the law. I just think that in doing so, he went way too far.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

February 5, 2012

I agree with Adam Turner. Cybersafety is something parents need to address. They have the primary duty to ensure that their children are following safe online practices.

As far as I’m concerned cybersafety is primarily a parent’s responsibility, just like teaching about stranger danger or how to cross the road safely. The fundamentals of cybersafety are no different to the real world; don’t wander off, don’t talk to strangers, don’t reveal too much about yourself and call a parent if you’re unsure of something.

Some parents might complain that it’s all too complicated, but it’s not if you take an interest in your children’s activities and take the time to learn the basics. Talk to them about computers and the internet. Ask them what they’re learning at school and what they’re doing at home. Take an interest, just as you should in their other activities. 

Turner suggests ways in which parents can better supervise their children:

A common cybersafety rule is that the computer stays in the living area, positioned in such a way that anyone who walks into the room can see what’s on the screen. If notebooks are permitted in the bedrooms for studying, perhaps it’s on the condition that they recharge on the kitchen bench at night. The same rule can apply for mobile phones, which can also help combat cyberbullying.

You can split cybersafety into two key areas. The first is protecting young children from accidentally stumbling across inappropriate content. This isn’t hard if you can set up a list of appropriate bookmarks and trust your kids not to wander. Installing an ad and pop-up blocker offers an extra layer of protection. If children can’t be trusted not to wander, even by accident, you might consider a whitelist plug-in for your browser, which lets you limit access to a specific list of sites.

The second area of cybersafety is hindering older children who are deliberately seeking inappropriate content. This area is much harder to deal with, as smart and determined kids will find a workaround to just about any security measure (remember, help is only a Google search away).

There’s a big market for desktop filtering software, but don’t walk away and trust it to do a parent’s job. In my experience it tends to cripple your computer, but your mileage may vary. If you do want to restrict internet access, look at services that are independent of your end device – particularly useful if your house contains a variety of internet-enabled gadgets.

It’s worth investigating the filtering options built into wireless routers. Some let you create blacklist and whitelists, or switch off the internet at specific times. You could even run a separate wireless network for the children, making it easier to control their access without affecting your own. Another filtering option is DNS-level services such as OpenDNS. 

Whilst teachers should also take an interest in cybersafety issues, it’s up to the parents to take the lead.

Online Bullying Has Yet to Reach It’s Peak

November 10, 2011

A recent study into bullying may have fond that online bullying isn’t as prevalent as regular bullying, but it is still early days.

A new study entitled Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Networks confirms much of what we already know about cyberbullying. Most kids aren’t bullied and most kids don’t bully either online or off.

In fact, the study–conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project for the Family Online Safety Institute and Cable in the Classroom–concluded that “[m]ost American teens who use social media say that in their experience, people their age are mostly kind to one another on social network sites.” Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) of teens said that peers are mostly kind while 20 percent said peers are mostly unkind with 11 percent saying, “it depends.”

Fifteen percent of teens say they have been the “target of online meanness.” When you include in-person encounters, 19 percent say they’ve been “bullied” in the past year.

These numbers track very closely with previous scientific surveys on bullying and cyberbullying. The largest source of bullying (12 percent) was in person, followed by text messaging (9 percent). Eight percent said they had been bullied via email, a social networking site or instant messaging and 7 percent were bullied via voice calls on the phone. Girls are more likely to have experienced what we typically call “cyberbullying,” while boys and girls are roughly equal when it comes to in person bullying.

Online bullying may be less prevalent but it is arguably more damaging. It is generally accepted that since online bullying invades the victim’s home (traditionally a place of comfort and safety), it has a much more powerful effect. Another reason that online bullying is potentially more oppressive is that there can be many more bystanders and participants online. Facebook bullying can be shared between hundreds rather than just handful of kids in the schoolyard.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Bullies don’t discriminate between mediums. A bully doesn’t throw their weight around in person and then become an angel online.  Bullying is bullying, no matter what the medium.  The experts are telling us online bullying is not the major form of bullying that some believe it to be.

That may be true, but it’s early days …

Parents Helping Their Children Lie To Get On Facebook

November 2, 2011

To those parents who are contemplating assisting their underage children to get on Facebook, I strongly suggest you reconsider.  The age requirements for Facebook is necessary, as Facebook has a clear downside.  From cybersafety issues to cyberbullying, Facebook is clearly not designed for pre-teens.

Almost all parents of ten-year-olds signing up for the site – 95 percent – were aware of what their children were doing, and 78 percent of those helped them do it.

“Although many sites restrict access to children, our data show that many parents knowingly allow their children to lie about their age — in fact, often help them to do so — in order to gain access to age–restricted sites in violation of those sites’ ToS,” the authors write.

“This is especially true for general–audience social media sites and communication services such as Facebook, Gmail, and Skype, which allow children to connect with peers, classmates, and family members for educational, social, or familial reasons.”

The survey found that 55 percent of 12-year-olds, 32 percent of 11-year-olds and 19 percent of 10-year-olds were active Facebook members.

The authors suggest that the COPPA rules may need re-examination, given that they appear only to be encouraging parents to lie. Universal, rather than age-based, privacy protecitons might make more sense, they say.

The full report is here.

What a Year For Teachers!

October 24, 2011

Today, my blog Topical Teaching, celebrates its very first birthday.

In the past 12 months I have witnessed probably the most difficult period for teachers in recent memory.  From layoffs, to debates over tenure vs skilled teachers, it has been a period of great uncertainty.  Teachers are facing great negativity by those that are looking for an easy target to blame.

Whilst there are a premium of poor teachers out there, there are also brilliant teachers in great supply.  Teachers are not to blame for the state of our education system.  There are other stakeholders that must lift their game as well.

In the past year the Facebook phenomenon has uncovered a potential danger for teachers.  It is clear that teachers on Facebook must be extra careful to avoid controversy, as some have made very poor judgement calls that have cost them dearly in the end.

Teachers are also faced with an ever-growing bullying problem.  From the classroom to cyberbullying, teachers have the important task of limiting incidences of bullying as best they can.

The rigours of standardised testing has also been a hot topic throughout the year.  From cheating scandals to stressed out teachers the blasted tests are here to stay and the question is, are our students better for it?

Thank you to those of you who clicked on and contributed to my blog.  I have really enjoyed sharing ideas and interacting with you.  A special thank you to regular contributors, Margaret, Carl and Anthony for their loyalty and insight.

I hope, as I continue writing this blog, teachers get the break they so richly deserve.  Teaching is a profession that attracts people who want to make a difference.  We aren’t in it for the money or prestige, just the opportunity to help the students of today become the role models of tomorrow.

Thank you for a wonderful year!


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