Technology is continuously changing the field of education. While technology can provide many new opportunities for our schools and their students, it is also providing a number of new challenges. One major challenge that has been presented in recent years is the use of technology by our students to bully each other. Commonly referred to as cyberbullying, this is when students use technology to torment, threaten, humiliate, or embarrass other students. These technologies usually occur in the form of e-mails, instant messaging, text or picture messages sent on cell phones, blogs, or through popular social networking websites.
Cyberbullying has become a major problem for schools because parents and teachers often do not even know that the bullying is occurring. This new form of bullying also differs from more traditional forms of bullying in that it can occur at any time, the messages and images can be distributed quickly and to a very wide audience, and students can often be anonymous when cyberbullying, making it very difficult to trace them. Schools have also faced some major challenges when attempting to address cyberbullying because they cannot discipline students for cyber bullying actions that take place off-campus, due to the fear of violating the student’s right to free speech.
As an educator, I feel that it is the responsibility of my colleagues and I to make sure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable in our schools. To accomplish this goal we must begin to work on eliminating cyberbullying. Although I do not have a "one size fits all" solution, I have come across some suggestions that I will share with you. First, we should provide our students with education about the impact of cyberbullying and to provide them with guidance on appropriate technology etiquette. Secondly, we need to update our schools appropriate use policy to include cyberbullying and make sure that student’s are well aware of the consequences for violating these rules. Next, we need to provide parents with education and encourage them to talk to their children about cyberbullying and the potential consequences. We can also provide parents with on how to better monitor their child’s use of technology and inform them of what to do if they discover that their child is being cyberbullied. Finally, we can create a school wide cyber bullying task force that is composed of parents, students, and educators that can help to monitor what is going on in their school. As educators if we are going to stop this new form of bullying, we must confront cyberbullying head on and make it clear that it will not be tolerated in our schools.
Beale, A. & Hall, K. (2007). Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (and Parents) Can Do. The Clearing House (81) 1, 8-13.
Sutton, S. (2009). School Solutions for Cyberbullying. Principal Leadership (9) 6, 39-42.