According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying can be defined as, "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices." The First Amendment Center cites statistics that show one-third of teens on the Internet have experienced harassment online. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dub electronic aggression as an "emerging adolescent health issue."
This video from the PACER Center offers resources for students and teachers.
Clearly, there is no doubt that cyberbullying has become a major problem in recent years, but the question then becomes: what should public schools do about it? It does not appear to be a question with an easy answer if one considers the differing responses to the problem by public schools and the government.
- Widespread harassment, as online bullying can reach a much larger audience
- Harassment follows a student home on websites like Facebook and MySpace
- Bullies are emboldened due to the perceived sense of anonymity that allows them to speak even more cruelly and encourages others to get in on the harassment
- Uncertainty from parents and schools over how to address the issue
- In Boston, victims can call into a cyberbullying hotline that is operated by the Boston Public Health Commission, as reported by The Boston Globe. School personnel are now also mandated to report bullying cases to administrators. In addition, Boston Mayor, Thomas M. Menino, kicked off an anti-bullying campaign earlier this year to let students in his city know that bullying of any kind will not be tolerated. The move also aims to educate officials and the general public about cyberbullying, according to a report on the Boston Public Schools website.
- McLure Middle School in Seattle suspended 28 students for bullying another student early this year. Suspensions ranged from two to eight days, depending on their alleged involvement in the harassment, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
- The Seattle Public School District implemented a cyberbullying prevention curriculum, aimed at educating the general public about the dangers of cyberbullying and outlining guidelines to prevent it. The current status of the program, which has been in effect for about one year, was recently reported on the website for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.