On Thursday, March 10th a conference on bullying prevention was held at the White House. (Click here for a run down of the days events.) During the conference Facebook “announced new tools to protect users from bullying, create a stronger sense of community in the social network, and “create a culture of respect” among Facebook users.”
Although ‘old school’ bullying techniques like passing a note around or throwing a piece of crumpled up paper at someone remain, the landscape for bullying is different nowadays and is rapidly evolving as technology advances. The fact that a school may frown upon its’ students involvement in social network sites outside of school time does not change reality; Reality is today’s second graders know how to download apps like Facebook onto their IPods and actively use them. Reality is 9 year olds bully each other through ‘texting’.
It is imperative we educate our students, at a very early age, on proper “digital citizenship” as it pertains to bullying by providing them with the proper tools and techniques. However we must first educate ourselves. If you are not familiar with terms like cyber-bullying and digital citizenship, consider setting aside 30 minutes right now to browse the web and get a feel for where and how bullying can take place with technology. There are many websites that offer support and tools like www.stopbullying.gov, www.antibullying.net and info. pamphlets from www.digizen.org.
Bottom line- Proactively champion anti-bullying in your school. The positive impact you embed in your students will resonate in them for their entire lives.