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Friday, April 8, 2011

Cyberbullying - Putting a Face to the Anonymous

"Research reveals that children consider the death of someone close to be the only experience worse than being bullied. It is a deeply emotional experience for children of all ages." (From: Protect Your Child on the Internet by John Lenardon).

This is a powerful statement with profound implications. Bullying is not a new problem, but it is a problem that has taken on a different M.O. This has led to traditional approaches to educating students about the dangers and strategies we can use to combat bullying to be out-dated and inefficient.

The rise and prevalence of cyber bullying has lead to an outpouring of public discussion, school training and countless student presentations. We, as educators, have identified cyberbullying as a growing concern in our schools, but we need to do more to target the underlying causes and methods that are leading to its proliferation. Here are some links to my school board's information and tips concerning cyberbullying and internet safety for parents.

One of the ways to minimize (or even eradicate) the growing dangers online is to teach digital citizenship at its core principles as part of our instructional program. Through media, language, computers, health or other subjects, appropriate online actions and "netiquette" should be taught in a way that explicitly deals with the actions and consequences of online choices. Currently, we are improving on our ability to identify online incidents and deal with them in a more informed and efficient manner. But we need to begin from the grassroots level - from the ground up - and instead begin laying the foundation for positive and well-intentioned online actions in our earliest grades. Involving parents and the community of these tips and strategies help to instill in them the impetus to drive these digital citizenship core values community-wide - not just school or class-wide.

A article/video entitled, "Can anything be done to stop cyberbullying?" is found on CBC's "The National" webpage. It contains some tips and links to other websites that contain information you can use to help prevent internet harassment from happening to you.

At any rate, the problem of cyberbullying has been identified. Students (and parents) are being taught how to deal with it or prevent it within their household. It is time to take a more proactive approach towards the prevention of cyberbullying by educating our students on their roles and responsibilities, rather than a reactive approach to merely deals with specific incidents. Digital citizenship is paramount to incorporating 21st century technologies into our teaching practice. It cannot be done without front-loading the moral responsibilities of the students to act appropriately.

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