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cyberbullying

Robert Sexton has worked with school-based tech for more than 15 years, so there’s not much he hasn’t seen. “Kids are pretty ingenious; keeping up with them is a challenge,” says Sexton, currently the director of technology for Olentangy Local School District, just north of Columbus, Ohio.

That challenge is mitigated by the district’s secret weapon—AristotleInsight::K12by Sergeant Laboratories, which tracks every digital move students make and alerts the district of potential problems.

Across the US, the number of teen suicides has risen dramatically over the years. Whether it’s the stress of high-level courses or the anxiety of divorcing parents, a staggering amount of students are overcrowding school counseling centers, says Psychology Today. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 teenagers and young adults suffer from mental illness.

Author Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age. (Image by Bruce Searl)

In a 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey, close to 1.2 million students reported that someone was hurtful to them at school once a week or more. This rate has not significantly declined since 2005. Of this number, close to 540,000 students say this happens “almost daily.”

Furthermore, over 700,000 students reported they were “fearful of attack or harm” at school “sometimes” or “most of the time.”

Less than half of U.S. states have policies to combat cyberbullying in schools despite recent media coverage of students who committed suicide after suffering persistent online harassment.

Glendale USD in southern California has taken an unprecedented step in bullying and crime prevention by paying a company to analyze students’ public posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.

After years of torment from bullies, 15-year-old Bart Palosz of Greenwich, Conn., took his own life on the first day of school in September. His death has led many to question the effectiveness of district bullying policies, and whether or not school leaders are responsible for identifying students who may harm themselves.

As the use of social media and mobile technology has grown at an exponential rate, so has the problem of bullying. To address this issue and keep up with federal and state anti-bullying mandates, administrators need a solution that utilizes student “insider” knowledge to prevent campus violence, drug use, and more. This web seminar, originally broadcast on January 24, 2013, addressed how crime reporting tools can be used to address these problems, as well as how to push user adoption and measure progress.

In December 2012, in the case Zeno v Pine Plains Cent School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a New York district was liable under Title VI for student-on-student harassment, upholding a $1 million reduced jury verdict.

Located on the North Carolina border in eastern Tennessee, the rural Blount County school system has 20,000 students and four major high schools. The district is very socioeconomically diverse, and includes students living at the poverty level, some from wealthy households and many others in between. Tensions between these student populations can create a host of serious problems—including bullying, prescription drug abuse, and weapons possession.

Digital citizenship programs, which focus on the safe and appropriate use of technology by students, have never been more important. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that 31 percent of students have been victims of bullying at school. An important aspect of Digital Citizenship is connecting students’ advancement through the program with enhanced access rights.

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