A number of children and families are being affected by bullying every day. Schools cannot deny the fact that the increase in school violence, suicide, and bullying are detrimental to learning and children feeling safe at school. In a recent survey of over 30 million U.S. students between the ages of 12 and 18, nearly 32 percent reported that they were bullied at school (US Department of Education 2011). The internet and social media have increased the tragic and traumatic effects that bullying has had on many students in school. Research is showing the increase in hateful comments and intimidating behaviour that occurs through social media as well as messaging and video responses. This has prompted many school districts to take action through policy and programming to try and alleviate this issue.
So what do we do?? How can schools control, monitor or supervise activities that are being done over the internet and through social media? Can we make schools safe for everyone and have children feel that they will not be bullied or intimidated by those they share a space with?
Let's begin by defining bullying and what it means to be bullied.
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Why Cyberbullying is Different
- Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
- Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
- Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.