At a regional technology integrators meeting on Friday I was introduced to some new (to me) materials to help make the point of what cyberbullying can look and feel like. Click below to hear a brief, direct, audio message from The National Crime Prevention Council and the AdCouncil:
You can also check out their cyberbullying page for the video version of this, plus some more. These spots drive home what cyberbullying can do to kids.
What saddens me most about this topic is that it is making us have to have conversations with our kids at younger and younger ages in order to make them aware of what can happen. If statistics show that 7th grade is the peak of cyberbullying, than we have to work on interventions that start at 4th, 5th and 6th grade (or younger). That means we have to work with kids and expose them to these concepts when many of them may never have dreamed of doing such things. While I’m at the front of the line championing the use of the Internet, there is a part of me that wonders if the rapid advances in technology are just as rapidly retreating the “age of innocence” in our kids.
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Bismikaallahuma. Innocent. 10 February 2008. http://flickr.com/photos/bismikaallahuma/49028395/
In David Warlick’s book Raw Materials for the Mind (4th ed.), he has the following quote in the introduction:
“IT Departments do not work for the technology. They work for the teachers, to make sure that teachers can use the technology to produce the learning experiences that they know need to happen in their classrooms. ”
I feel this statement is misdirected, but starts the correct conversation. We all struggle with networks that are tied down, filtered, and otherwise “safe.” The flip-side is an open, non-obstructed system, which is just not feasible. The Internet is a great, awesome, unbelievable source of networking and information. It is also a place of danger, mis-information, and viruses. We would do a disservice to our school community to not try to protect ourselves.
I would suggest the correct statement reads as follows:
(IT Departments) or (Educational Technologists) or (Administrators) or (insert whatever group here) do not work for the technology. They work for the learners, to make sure that learners can use the technology to produce the learning experiences that they know need to happen in the classroom.
Note that I purposely did not make a distinction between teacher and student when referring to learner.
I just finished Nancy Willard’s book titled Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Cruelty, Threats, and Distress. It is full of good information on this important topic. I think the strength of the book is in the final chapters that talk about legal considerations for individuals, families and schools. There are 2 very good flow charts in the appendix about reviewing cyberbullying or cyberthreats, and school actions and options.
Nancy has done an excellent job at bringing together what little research exists in this arena. The web is still an uncharted arena in terms of how it affects children and adults alike. Check out her website, cyberbully.org, for information on the book and other activities of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.