Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One in 4 Teens Cyberbullied, British report

MC900056487According to this article, a recent British study reports that 28% of students aged 11-16 have been victim of bullying through the Internet or mobile phones. Harassing text messages was the largest avenue of bullying at 13%, while around 10% reported bullying from social networking sites (services like Facebook, YouTube, instant messaging, etc.)

How does cyberbullying affect kids?

MC900232130Like any form of bullying, cyber harassment can have lasting effects of students, the study says. One out of every 5 students in the study reported they were reluctant to go to school because of it. Eleven percent said cyberbullying had caused them to become depressed, and 3% had even attempted suicide over it. Six percent reported that ‘sexting,’ receiving sexually explicit messages or images, had made them feel uncomfortable.

How does cyberbullying affect teachers?

Ten percent of teachers participating in the study also reported cyber-harassment, with 15% feeling afraid for their own or their family’s safety. Their research also shows that teachers average around 6 hours/week dealing with cyberbullying, equating to an annual estimated cost to taxpayers the equivalent of $28.5 million (British Sterling Pounds converted to US dollars).

How did British teachers handle it?

The most effective means of dealing with bullies was to report the sender to or block the sender from the communication service. Just ignoring the messages only worked about half the time, according to the study.

How should we handle it?

MC900433819The most widely accepted strategy for dealing with cyberbullies is STOP, BLOCK, and TELL. Here’s how to explain the strategy to your kids:
STOP: Do not respond the the bully’s remarks or messages. Bullying is all about controlling how others feel and behave. Striking back at them shows that they are able to manipulate your emotions and control your behavior. When you react, the bully wins.
BLOCK: A person who bullies you is not your friend. Most social networking sites and instant messaging services have features that let you block others from becoming your “friend,” or to “un-friend” people you are connected with. YouTube offers users the option to turn off the commenting and rating features associated with videos you post. Most cellular service providers, Internet service providers, and email hosts have ways to block certain persons from sending messages to you. Learn how to use these features, and put them into action if you feel harassed or uncomfortable.
TELL: “Telling” and “Tattling” happen for very different reasons: “Tattletales” are trying to get someone else in trouble. Most teachers understand and can identify this behavior quickly. However, those who “tell” are trying to protect themselves or someone else from getting hurt or getting into trouble. Teach children the difference, and encourage children to report bullying of any kind to a parent, a teacher, or another trusted adult. Help children learn how to report cyberbullies through the social networking site, Internet service provider, cellular service provider, etc.,

What if that doesn’t work?

If STOP, BLOCK, and TELL doesn’t work, it may be appropriate to get local law enforcement involved. In Illinois, “cyber bullying”, “cyber stalking” and “cyber harassment” are considered criminal acts. “Cyber stalking,” for example, is considered a Class 4 felony and is punishable by 1-3 years in prison and/or $25,000 fine for each occurrence. After the third occurrence it is considered a Class 3 felony, and the prison sentence increases to 2-5 years.

The Bottom Line

Don’t ignore online bullying. It’s affects can be dramatic and can reach into every classroom, regardless of the grade level or subject matter taught. Taking action can be as simple as teaching kids how to STOP, BLOCK and TELL. The impact can save a child’s life.
For more information, please access the following resources:
For a collection of Internet Safety activities, grouped by grade level, visit my web site.

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