Archive for Cyberbullying

Apr
21

scan0001From the front page of today’s SacBee: Teens Love Their Phones. If you are the parent of a teen, it’s doubtful that this news item comes as a surprise. The statistics are from the latest Pew Internet and American life Project study, which was released on Tuesday:

33% of teens send more than 100 text messages a day.

Number of texts typically sent and received per day: 80 (girls); 30 (boys); 10 (adults).

62% of parents say they have taken away a cell phone as punishment.

26% of teens have been bullied or harassed through text messages and phone calls.

48% of parents use the phone to monitor their children’s location.”

If you have  concerns or questions about your child’s use (or over use) of his/her cell phone, we recommend checking out Common Sense Media’s Cell Phone Tips for Parents.
We also invite you to join the conversation on cell phone issues (bullying, “sexting,” etc.) by leaving a comment.

Parents who attend our Internet Safety workshops typically arrive with a good bit of  anxiety about the Internet, particularly around issues of online predators.

It is our goal to provide parents with tips for keeping their children safe from others. But we also want to make sure that parents understand the need to monitor how their children are acting online toward friends and rivals - and what impression their online profiles might create in the minds of college admissions officers or future employers. In this age of the Internet and smart phones, children must be taught that what they post online is not only public, but also permanent.

As a district, we are extremely concerned about cyberbullying incidents happening before, after, and even during the school day.  We are also under federal and state mandates to make sure there are consequences for cyberbullying. 

We hope you will take some time with your children to make sure they understand California policies on cyberbullying:

Bullying/Harassment: Education Code 48900 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion for engaging in acts of bullying. Education Code 48900.4 (2008) allows a student to be suspended or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or pupils “that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invading the rights of either school personnel or pupils by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment.”

Education Code 48900.2 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has committed sexual harassment, as defined in Education Code 212.5.

Cyberbullying: Education Code 48900 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion for engaging in acts of bullying, including bullying committed by means of electronic acts. Education Code 32261 (no date available) defines “electronic act” as “the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound or image by means of an electronic device, including but not limited to a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or pager.”

Hazing: Education Code 48900.2 (2008) permits a student to be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the student is enrolled determines that the student has engaged ir or attempted to engage in hazing. “Hazing” is defined as a method of means a method of initiation or preinitiation into a pupil organization or body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or prospective pupil.” For the purposes of this statute, ”hazing” does not include athletic events or school-sanctioned events.

Note: The above policies are from the State School Healthy Policy Datebase.

From elementary through high school, students are dialed in, connecting 24/7 with family and friends. Cell phones are not only used for making phone calls. Newer technology is in place and our children’s cell phones are now equipped with cameras and, in many cases, Internet access. Because of this, children bullying other children by using a mobile phone has become a growing problem.

What is a phone bully?
Phone bullies use text messaging and social networking websites to harass, embarrass, exploit and intimidate other kids. This problem goes beyond the school day. The phone bully uses technology to spread his or her offensive messages, embarrassing photos and false rumors to a large group of peers very quickly.

What can kids do if they are being bullied via cell phone?
Become a detective!

If you are being bullied, it’s almost certain that you personally know who is sending the abusive text messages or calls. Think through your list of “friends” and ask yourself who might be doing this. Jealousy, envy and rejection are the most common reasons given for bullying.

Recognize when a message is inappropriate or potentially harmful. Keep a detailed journal, noting the date, time, and caller ID information and phone number (if there is one).

Most importantly, get immediate help from a trusted adult. Never ignore any kind of threat.

What can parents do if a child is being bullied via cell phone?
Sending inappropriate language or photos may violate the cell phone companies “Terms and Conditions.” Do not erase the messages or pictures on your child’s cell phone. Save them as evidence. Cell phone service providers can respond to reports of cyberbullying over their networks, or help you to track down the appropriate service provider.

Cell phone are an important part of teen social life. You have the ability to block text messaging capabilities through your phone service provider. Often times, simply blocking texting for several days will discourage the bully from sending further harassing messages.

Given that your child most likely knows the bully, on way to uncover his or her identity is to change the cell phone number and advice your child to share the new number with only one person at a time.

If you believe the threats are serious, please contact the police.

Resources
thatsnotcool.com – Your cell phone, IM and social networks are all a digital expression of who you are. When someone you’re with pressures you or disrespects you in those places, that’s not cool.

Be Web Aware - Challenging Cyber Bullying – Cyberbullying and the law, The role of Internet service providers (ISPs) and cell phone service providers, taking action.

California begins the New Year with a law aimed at curtailing cyberbullying. Assemblyman Ted Lieu introduced Assembly Bill 86, which “adds cyberbullying to school disciplinary codes that previously defined bullying only in terms of direct physical or verbal harassment.”

This bill is in response to the escalating issues with cyberbullying nationwide. At middle and high school sites – and even elementary sites – school administrators and counselors are seeking ways to reverse this cruel trend.

EGUSD has brought together an Internet Safety Task Force to address cyberbullying. One of the main Task Force goals is to develop a district wide program that embeds the ethical use of the Internet into the K-12 curriculum, with an initial focus on grades 4-6.

Throughout the year, the task force and 2Webwatchers will be providing the Elk Grove community with resource links to educate our students on what digital citizenship means. For our first elementary level resource, we recommend reading advice on cyberbullying posted to the McGruff.org website. The Shrink the Cyberbully game is appropriate for students in grades 3-6.

For additional resources on cyberbullying, please visit our 2Webwatcher resource links (right hand side bar). If you have online resources you would like to share, please leave us a comment.