Sunday, October 7, 2012

Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying - the Myths and the Facts

We all know the common phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".  Yet do we also know that this is a complete myth and it is completely untrue?

Another common thing that many of us are told is that "bullying is just a part of life, and that we just have to grow up and deal with it".  Well, that is not true either.

I just watched a webinar on cyberbulling entitled "Preventing and Responding to Cyberbulling" which was developed by SMART Technologies.  The webinar is offered through the SMART Learning Space and you can access the free webinar by clicking this link: https://learningspace.smarttech.com/Saba/Web/Main.  I must say that I really enjoyed watching this webinar and I learned some important things too.

According to the Canada Safety Council (2010), the term "Cyberbullying" refers to harmful actions that are communicated via electronic media and are intended to embarrass, harm, or slander another individual".  Often, this will include the use of the following technologies: E-mail, mobile phones and devices, online forums, social networking websites, and online games.

Just how does cyberbullying compare with other forms of bullying? It's actually worse and can be even more detrimental and hurtful than other types of bullying.  Cyberbullying can affect many more people in a much shorter amount of time.

Cyberbullying:
   * Often anonymous
   * High frequency of attacks
   * Home is no longer a safe place
   * Unlimited audience
   * 24/7 occurrences

All Forms of Bullying:
  * Can be a criminal offense
  * Accessories and bystanders may not realize their impact
  * Often goes unreported

When thinking about it, I didn't realize how dangerous cyberbullying really is.  I used to think that it was just sending someone a hurtful e-mail or instant message.  Yet I never thought about anything beyond that.  It is so important that we, as educators be proper role models for our students.  I have heard of cases in which employees berated each other through Facebook and have lost their jobs over it.  How can anyone post something like that - and not think about it before hand?

In this webinar, I learned how to recognize cyberbullying as it can be hard to detect.  In order to prevent it from happening, we must teach our students what it is, how it happens, and how we can protect ourselves from happening again.  If it happens, we should not retaliate yet we should report it.  We don't want it to happen to us - and we need to make sure we don't cause it to happen to someone else either.

There is a common phrase which I have heard many times when I was younger, "If you don't have something nice to say, then don't say it at all".

Be a Cyber Hero!




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