Australia vs. America: More Similar Than Different When it Comes to Bullying

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on August 14, 2014

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I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to give a keynote address at the National Center Against Bullying (NCAB) biennial conference in Melbourne, Australia last week. The NCAB is an initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation which was started in 1997 by Walter Mikac, whose wife and two young daughters (Alannah and Madeline) were gunned down in a tragic mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania, the year before. Mr. Mikac and a few others (including some who survived the attack) developed the foundation as a way to work toward protecting children from all forms of violence. I was honored to meet Mr. Mikac at the event. My remarks focused on the cyberbullying research that Sameer and I have done in the US, along with some of the challenges associated with defining bullying in a clear but comprehensive way. I also offered (read more…)

Preventing Bullying through Kindness

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on August 8, 2014

Addressing Cyberbullying by Encouraging Teens to be Kind

I’ve been working with Adam Sherman of the To Be Kind movement over the last few years, as he is an award-winning educator here in my home state of Florida (and also worked in the county where I went to school while growing up!). He is passionate about creating positive climates within schools to reduce violence, harassment, and hate, and his enthusiasm is contagious and so refreshing to see.  While teaching Leadership classes at school, he spearheaded a curriculum to encourage a peer environment that helps (and not hurts) others, and it has gained significant traction around Florida. I’ve asked him and a few of his students to share some of their thoughts below. My hope is that it inspires teachers and counselors to identify a cadre on campus that can take this idea and run with it! With the new academic year upon us, I think (read more…)

Revenge Porn and the Purge trend on Instagram and Twitter

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on July 25, 2014

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Since last weekend, our site has received a lot of reports from both victims and other concerned social media users about the #purge phenomenon that has gone viral. For those of you unfamiliar, The Purge was a movie that came out in 2013.  The storyline featured the premise of all crime being legal for one night of the year. The sequel – The Purge: Anarchy – just came out and has seemingly served as the impetus for some users on Twitter and Instagram (and perhaps other platforms) to (sort of) replicate the storyline. How, you might ask? Well, for a twelve hour period, people are posting and saying whatever they want, and including a hashtag consisting of some variation of “purge” in it (for example, #twitterpurge, #instapurge, #purgenight). Apart from individuals mouthing off in malicious, cruel, and offensive ways (typically against others), the most (read more…)

Empower Bystanders to Improve School Climate

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on July 18, 2014

used under created commons courtesy of Saad Faruque

As technology has allowed bullies to expand the reach and scope of their torment to an ever broader audience, it has also allowed for increasing numbers of others to see and potentially respond. Cruel posts on Facebook or humiliating pictures sent via a cell phone can be viewed by countless individuals, and the question becomes, what does a teen do when he or she sees such behaviors? In our research, we have found that 42 percent of students had witnessed other people being cyberbullied. We suspect this number is a bit lower than expected due to the wording of the question, which reads as though we were interested in experiences that were synchronous: that is, that they saw the cyberbullying as it was happening. In assemblies at schools, we regularly ask students to indicate by a show of hands if they “have seen cyberbullying.” Usually most of the hands go (read more…)

Cyberbullying Law Ruled Too Vague

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on July 1, 2014

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a cyberbullying ordinance in Albany County, New York, that was being challenged and subsequently evaluated by the New York State Court of Appeals. The incident that initiated the review occurred back in June of 2011 and involved a 15-year-old student who had posted photos and hurtful comments of a sexual nature about several of his classmates to a Facebook flame page. He was one of the first to be charged with the new cyberbullying law. His attorney challenged the law as being overly broad, but lost in city court and the student ultimately pled guilty (while still retaining the ability to appeal). He did appeal to the Albany County Court, but again lost. The New York State Court of Appeals agreed to review the case and today returned their opinion. In short, in a 5-2 split decision, the (read more…)

Cell Phone Searches: Implications for Educators from Riley v. California

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on June 26, 2014

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New insight about the issues associated with authorities searching the contents of cell phones has been provided by the U.S. Supreme Court. While this particular ruling deals specifically with the question of whether law enforcement officers can search the contents of cell phones possessed by people who are under arrest, educators can certainly learn from it as well. In the opinion released yesterday, the Court analyzed two separate incidents (one in California [Riley v. California] and another in Massachusetts [U.S. v. Wurie]) where officers searched—without a warrant—the cell phones of individuals they had arrested. In both cases the phones revealed incriminating evidence that was used at trial, and both defendants were convicted. The Skinny on Search and Seizure As a very rough and brief primer on basic criminal procedure law (don’t take this as legal advice!), the police are allowed to search the contents of, for example, a (read more…)

The Criminalization of Cyberbullying

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on June 16, 2014

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I have written quite a bit over the years on the question of whether it is necessary to enact new criminal statutes to combat cyberbullying. Be it a proposal for an amended state statute or a new city ordinance, it seems popular these days for politicians to publicly proclaim the scourge of cyberbullying by offering legislation to make it a crime. Few stand on the side of cyberbullies on Election Day, so it is probably a safe platform. But is it the right approach? The latest incident to thrust this issue into the public light is a test case out of Albany, New York, where, back in 2011, a 15-year-old student was arrested and charged with a then recently-passed county-level cyberbullying law. The student in this case is accused of having created a “flame page” wherein he posted photos and disparaging comments (read more…)

Cars Kill More Teens than Computers and Cell Phones Combined

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on June 4, 2014

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University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor recently wrote a short, but thought-provoking, commentary that questions the motives of journalists and scholars in their efforts to explain the nature and extent of risks associated with teen technology use. The impetus for this invited-editorial was an article written by Sonia Livingstone and Peter Smith published in the same journal, which reviews available research on the harms experienced by children who use the Internet. I agree with professor Finkelhor that much of the hype concerning possible online risks have been overstated in the media, but I am not sure if he is correct to include many academics in the same camp. My primary perturbation is with this point in particular: “The alarmism reflected by so much of the scholarly and journalistic literature appears to make several assumptions that are worthy of more explicit discussion.” (p. (read more…)

“Words Wound” Author Q&A

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on May 12, 2014

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Most of our regular readers already know quite a lot about us from reading our books, attending one (or more) of our workshops, or just by simply picking up bits and pieces about our background through various blog posts. Earlier this year, the publisher of our most recent book (you may have heard about it), asked us to respond to a few questions so that people who were just being introduced to our work could learn more about the path we took to writing this book. Below are the questions and our responses. Author Spotlight: Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., and Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., are university professors who have spent the last ten years studying issues related to teens’ use and misuse of technology. Their goal? To eradicate cyberbullying. In December, the pair released one of the first books written to teens (read more…)

Minnesota’s New Bullying Law and the Ability of Educators to Respond to Off-Campus Bullying

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on April 18, 2014

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On April 9th Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” which, among other things, updates the state’s anti-bullying legislation. The previous version of the law, last updated in 2007, was much maligned as being among the “worst in the nation.” I’m not sure that designation is accurate, but it was by far the shortest bullying law in the U.S. at just 37 words in length. The new law is much more comprehensive, which had also led to attracting its share of critics. Some argue that it is an attack on local control or that it somehow challenges the ability of parents to respond to bullying in a way that they think is appropriate. Others say it threatens free speech. Still others argue that this is just another unfunded mandate for schools, and to that I say, fair enough. I (read more…)

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