Posts Tagged ‘Jamey Rodemeyer’

Schools Should Become More Involved With Cyberbullying

October 8, 2011

At present schools have been able to turn a blind-eye to cyberbullying.   As the offence occurs out of school hours, schools have been only too happy to handball the problem to the parents of the bully.  Whilst I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the actions of their children, I ask that schools do more to help deal with this ongoing problem.

The reason why I feel schools should involve themselves more actively with this issue is that most cases result from pre-existing schoolyard bullying.  Having started in the playground and classroom, the bullying then gets transferred online.  Whilst the school isn’t liable for what goes on after school, the problem is often a result of what started during school hours.

To me, the best schools are the ones that work with the parents in a partnership for the wellbeing of their students.  For a school to excel it needs to show that it cares about its students beyond its working hours.  That is why a teacher or staff member that is aware of cyberbullying must be able to do more than discuss the issue with the class.  They must be able to contact parents, impose sanctions and actively change the situation at hand.

We also have to understand what cyberbullying is and why kids do it.

I disagree with ABC online columnist, Hemu Nigam, who is of the view that cyberbullying is about “hating” others:

Suicides from cyberbullying are extreme cases that draw attention. Media and government attention are creating a panic around the wrong issue. The issue isn’t so much that a child killed himself because he was cyberbullied. He did it because he was subjected to hate crime — harassment based on sexual preference, race and the like — couldn’t get it to stop, and felt hopeless, eventually leading to suicide. Thus, the attention needs to go to the source. How do you teach young people to be kind, open, or at the very least accepting of kids different from them?

If we are to ever put a stop to bullying — wherever and however it takes place — we must step back for a moment and think of what we have done for many years before “cyber” became an indelible part of our language.

I am reminded of this lesson my father taught my brothers and me as we were growing up. Like many kids do, we would say we “hated” something or someone. Perhaps it was a certain food or a person in our school. My father always reminded us not to hate by not allowing us to use the word “hate.” We could simply express our feelings by talking about what we didn’t like about a thing or agree with about a person.

As we adopted this house rule, we found ourselves talking about things and people we liked more than the things and people we didn’t like. Today I find myself sharing the same lesson with my own children. I am hearing them talk about things they like about a person or thing without mentioning hate. The lessons that strengthen tolerance begin in the home, “cyber”-connected or not.

It is my belief that cyber-bullying is often based on “dominance” and “popularity” rather than “hate”.  I don’t think most cyberbullies hate their victims.  Instead, I think they see them as stepping-stones to wider acceptance from their peer group.  Often the victims are minorities or outcasts.  The pressure to be in the “in group” has always been high.  For an “in group” to exist there needs to be a clearly defined “out group”.  It is often seen as a sort of right of passage for someone seeking popularity to kick the easy target.

If my theory is right, there is even more reason for schools to see cyberbullying as a problem that they have a significant share in.

Not Enough is Done To Curb Bullying in Schools

September 23, 2011

Parents are right when they express a lack of confidence in the way bullying behaviour is being handled by schools.  Schools just don’t seem to find dealing with the problem anywhere as near a priority as performing in standardised tests.  Schools nowadays use simplistic and inept anti-bullying policies to point out to parents that they are proactive on the issue.  In truth, all anti-bullying policies really does is protect a school from lawsuits.  If policies worked the problem would’t be getting worse.  But it is.

Detective Tim Toth, head of the youth services division of the City of Tonawanda Police Department is absolutely right:

“It’s great to tell the parents we have a bullying program in place, but until they take it serious and until the kids know there are consequences with what they do, the program is no good,” said Toth, who has also spent several years working at the high school as a resource officer.

I however disagree with Toth’s conclusions on cyberbullying:

“We don’t have the legal authority to intervene in a situation which exists between one child’s computer and another child’s computer when they are not being supervised when they are off school grounds,” noted Crawford. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t care…and it doesn’t mean we don’t make efforts to intervene when we can. But we need people, when we do attempt to intervene, to respond to us.”

That is a very poor response to an increasingly massive problem.  Schools MUST intervene when it comes to cyberbullying.  They MUST take more than a passing interest.  Schools, police, parents and the wider school community must join forces to curb cyberbullying.  It must be seen as a wider communal problem rather than something each and every stakeholder hides from.

Schools have got to ramp up their responses.  Programs, procedures and policies is not enough.  They will not work and never have.  Appealing to kids to improve their communications wont work either.

Bullying hurts and sometimes kills.  Surely schools have got that by now …

 


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