Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post on Cyberbullying by Jessica Simmons


Today’s guest post is by Jessica Simmons, a graduate student and Yale University research assistant. Jessica is a board member of Connecticut’s GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) that promotes safety in schools. 

She runs the website: http://MyKindnessCounts.com, a platform for youth to share experiences about bullying, and more importantly, positive actions, resulting from being bullied, that they partake of in their communities.To contact Jessica, e-mail her at http://jessica@mykindnesscounts.com

Cyberbullying: More Rampant Than In-Person Bullying

By now, many of us have read the story of Amanda Todd, a fifteen year-old Canadian girl whose suicide made headlines. Like Ryan Halligan, 13 and Tyler Clementi, 18, she commited suicide after being bullied by strangers and classmates online. This practice of harassment, on-line and over cell phones, with intention to harm is known as cyberbullying. 

How It’s Spread

Cyberbullies can be classmates, neighbors and anonymous users. Cyberbullying occurs through texting and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as well as Instagram, Tumblr, and other photo and blog sites. 

Because of the proliferation of these sites, their speed, and anonymity, it’s hard to keep up and implement” hard and fast” rules and guidelines. However, we need to hold people accountable.

What You as a Parent Can Do

Parents can do their part to thwart the efforts of cyberbullies by heeding the advice contained in  the U.S. Government ‘s anti-bullying initiative and resource website called http://stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying. Here are just a few of the steps you can take immediately (which are outlined in greater detail on the website):

Report cyberbullying:
·      Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
·      Keep evidence of cyberbullying.
·      Block the cyberbully.

Involve Law Enforcement if Considered Criminal. Criminal Acts are classified as:
·      Threats of Violence
·      Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos.
·      Taking a photo/video of someone in place where he/she would expect privacy.
·      Stalking and hate crimes. 

Report Cyberbullying to Schools:
·      Schools can use the information to help inform prevention & response strategies.
·      In some states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy.
·      Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that’s reflected in a hostile school environment.

October is Bullying (and that includes Cyberbullying) Prevention Month

As cyberbullying is so invasive, let’s take the above precautions as well as others suggested in http:stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying to stem its insidious effects. Otherwise, we are left, too late, on our own to try to save an already damaged teen who has been pushed to the limits.