What is the root of the problem?

Dear school administrators, policy makers, and board members:

I am writing to you all addressing an important problem that has raised since the Internet become more and more popular among the teenages: cyberbullying. Being an education institution, it is very important that we know what is the root of problem so that we can take effective move to educate and eliminate cyberbullying among our young generation.

You might ask what are the problems that cause cyberbullying. There are four main ones that are listed in the Bullying Blog, ignorance, control or power, anonymity, and revenge.

As our teens are on their way towards maturity, they simply don’t have any idea whatsoever regarding the power word can have. Sometimes to keep boredom at bay teens and younger kids initially harass, humiliate or intimidate someone to create some excitement. Obviously, they don’t realize the potential consequences but as educators we need to understand the potential harm of ignorance. It is crucial that we alert our students to be aware of the possible consequences of their action on the lives of other people.

It is but natural that we as humans want to take control over things and people. Sometimes when things are not falling in place for us, just to satisfy our ego, we use cyberbullying tactics to feel powerful. As adults, we have control over our own intentions but not the kids. They try to gain control and power over somebody else by aggressive actions or intimidate others. So acknowledge that can also help us to eliminate cyberbullying.

I, personaly think that anonymity can be the biggest problem which causes cyberbulling. The fact that there is no big brother watching you bullying someone on cyber universe encourages one to say things that they would not normally say in person. As Internet and all kinds of electronics become abusolute-part of everyone’s every day life, the feeling of being anonymous does to certain extent to encourage people to say anything they want on the Internet. They don’t have to worry about the immediate consequences behind the computer screen.

And revenge can also be a very common cause of cyberbullying. It is just a native feeling to human nature to be revanchist. So when a child is made to feel like a nerd or social outcast, he/she might think of a way to get back at others for making them feel miserable. Children and older teens are unpredictable because a best friend today may be ostracized the next, therefore, leads to a vicious cycle of cyberbullying.

With the understanding of the roots/causes of cyberbullying, let’s take action to make sure our future generations will have a better environment to grow up.

Thank you!

By Shang Zhi

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How can we raise more awareness so cyberbullying occurs less?

Dear school administrators, policy makers, and board members:

“We wanted to spread awareness because people need to know what bullying is and people need to know that it exists in our school. I think addressing it and defining it and spreading the awareness that it exists is the first step in preventing it and combating it.”

The quote above said by a student at Orange High School in Pepper Pike, Ohio really touched me because it shows how young people can really make a difference when given the opportunity. These students came together to spread awareness in their school by determining which areas in their school are bully “hotspots.” Then, they came up with their own creations of what bullying looks like and they performed it during lunch time.This was the icebreaker that allowed discussions of bullying and cyberbullying to finally occur. Allowing students to have a voice and take part in their own school to fight against cyberbullying will make a great difference.

You can view more information about these students and their courage to fight bullying here http://www.niot.org/nios-video/students-map-bully-zones-create-safer-school?gclid=CJ2l7_6M2K4CFcrrKgodFRy1bQ. This is just one great example of what students can do to make a change, just imagine if we all came together to raise more awareness, and what impact that can make.

Another way we can fight cyberbullying is through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Students and adults spend a great chunk of their time on sites like these anyway so why not create anti-cyberbulling campaigns such as this one?!

“Essentially, the feature will encourage users to take a stand against cyber-bullying as well as make it easier to report online bullies.”

This option might make it easier for people who do not feel as comfortable talking about cyber bullying in person. Hopefully young people will find this feature useful and start taking action through Facebook. The first step is talking about it. To find out more information visit the following website: http://www.shortstack.com/2011/07/facebook-teams-up-on-anti-cyber-bullying-campaign-plus-6-social-media-tips-parents-and-students-should-know-before-school-starts/.


You can make a bigger difference than you think. Moms from the webiste: http://www.momseveryday.com/reno/justformoms/misc/Act_Against_Bullying_And_Cyberbullying_Now_130595243.html share their input on how to battle cyberbullying. You can do anything from teaching students how to stand up and help each other to creating cyberbullying prevention videos and even creating events in your community to combat cyberbullying.

As you can see the possibilities are endless if we want to make a change. As I mentioned above the links above provided a couple great examples of how students, parents, and teachers went to outside the box to spread awareness of cyberbullying. There are people out there who are willing to take action and you too can do the same. Every little action counts and those actions can bring us closer to decreasing cyberbullying. We just have to start somewhere. The first step is to talk about cyberbullying! Once we create a space to discuss these issue there are no boundaries to what we can do in our fight to raise awareness on cyberbullying.

Original image from: http://www.operationawareness.com/about.html

 – Tin Hean

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What role can the schools play in eliminating cyberbullying?

Dear school administrators, policy makers, and board members:

With the rise of the internet, we have had to adjust to many new forms of harassment also making their way online. One of these forms of harassment is cyberbullying, which is more or less the act of bullying taken online, often to social media.

The New York times ran an excellent article on the effect of texting and technology in the schools. In this article, there were a few quotes that stood out to me. One of them was:

The seventh-grade guidance counselor says she can spend up to three-fourths of her time mediating conflicts that began online or through text messages.

This quote is of particular significance to me because it speaks on the importance of technology in our lives and the lack of preparation or education on the topic. For example, we spend so much time teaching children proper etiquette, such as how to be polite, how to behave properly, and how to present yourself in public. However, we don’t spend nearly as much time teaching children how to be polite, how to behave properly, and how to present yourself in public. You’d think that teaching a child how to act politely in real life would translate over to the internet, but there are a slew of factors that make this far from a reality.

Shang did quite a bit of research on this topic, and this is one of the articles he found. In this article the reasons for bullying are discussed and these same reasons carry over for why people act differently on the internet than they do in real life.

One of the reasons was anonymity, and this reason makes the most sense to me. When we are anonymous, we feel as though we can get away with any sort of behavior without any repercussions. This leads to people acting impolitely and forgetting many of the protocols that we normally use in our society. When people feel as though they are not responsible for their behavior, they are usually more willing to push the boundaries of what is socially acceptable. This often leads to bullying or harassment.

Another one of the reasons was ignorance. We often don’t understand the significance of the things we are doing over the internet. For example, one kid might have thick skin and write something on Facebook that would not offend them if they were to receive an identical message. However, everyone is different. So that same message that might not offend the sender, if they received an identical message, may be highly offensive to the person they are sending it to. This is a problem in any form of communication, but face-to-face communication presents an much more complex medium to communicate our displeasure than any online communication.

For example, if I’m offended by something that someone said in real life, I am able to communicate my displeasure through a multitude of different mediums. I can frown, I can groan, I can roll my eyes, I can voice my displeasure, I can start a fight with the person, or I can simply ignore what the person said. However, if I’m offended by something that someone said online, all I can do is type out my displeasure. My mediums of communication are severely limited.

So what can schools do to eliminate ignorance and anonymity among other factors that cause cyberbullying? I think there are numerous things the schools can do to help students.

This online article offers many effective techniques for schools to play a part in eliminating cyberbullying. One of these techniques is to educate students on the topic of cyber-ethics. That means providing some form of education on the ethics of using the internet. This ethical education piece would likely solve many of the problems that are causing cyberbullying. For one, if kids are educated that cyberbullying is a problem, and that there are certain ethical rules everyone should abide by over the internet, this would stop a lot of the hostility that occurs over the internet. If kids are educated about IP addresses this would stop a lot of the cyberbullying that occurs because of perceived anonymity. If kids are educated at all about cyberbullying this would eliminate the ignorance that exists around the topic. Cyber-ethics is a large part of this education piece.

That same article offers another solution of creating cyberbullying contracts in school. This forces accountability on the parts of the students when they are outside of school. Another reason that people cyberbully is because there is no perceived punishment. They can post whatever they want on the internet and there is no one who can discipline them for their actions. If schools created cyberbullying contracts, the students would be less likely to cyberbully because they would have to think about the consequences of their actions.

For example, at the University of Minnesota-Duluth there was an incident of racism over Facebook. The university intervened and handed out punishment to the student who was cyberbullying over Facebook. Although unintended, part of the punishment was that the newspaper reported on the story, as such this held the student accountable for his/her actions. This also sets a precedent for other students because they now know that if they cyberbully they will be punished and there is a chance that their cyberbullying will become public knowledge to the entire school or university.

To conclude, schools play a large role in eliminating cyberbullying. Schools must recognize that cyberbullying is part of a larger problem, and they must attempt to eradicate the larger problem first. This larger problem is the lack of awareness and education on the topic of cyberbullying and the lack of resources, on the part of the school, to combat cyberbullying. Unless we fix this larger problem all the potential solutions are only band-aids to the real problem. However, there are a few solutions that could prove helpful. One of these is to hold students more accountable for their actions by creating a school contract, and another solution is to educate students about cyber-ethics.

Tin and Ken will discuss the issues of raising awareness and the root of the cyberbullying problem, but I hope that I brought some light on the role schools can play to eliminate cyberbullying.

-Roni Kholomyansky

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