Setting up a Free Bullying and Cyberbullying Reporting System with Google Voice

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on April 16, 2015

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I have written in the past on anonymous reporting systems in schools, and I strongly advocate for them whenever I have the opportunity to speak to educators on how they should prevent cyberbullying. Based on your own observations, I am sure you’d agree with me that youth are way more comfortable texting/typing – especially when it relates to giving emotionally-laden statements or sharing stories of a sensitive or delicate nature to an adult (such as a teacher, counselor, or administrator). Not only do these systems cater to the preferred method of communication for kids, they also offer confidentiality to the person providing the report. Furthermore, they help to empower youth to be agents of change and step up for themselves or for others who are being victimized. Finally, they allow for real-time reporting, can alert you to minor situations before they become major, and can provide (read more…)

Wisconsin Extends Restraining Orders Beyond State Borders

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on April 13, 2015

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Last week Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law 2015 Assembly Bill 10, which amends state statute 801.04(1) so that Wisconsin judges can now issue restraining orders in cases of domestic abuse, child and at-risk adult abuse, and harassment against persons outside of the state of Wisconsin. Specifically, subsection 813.015 was added to 801.04(1): 813.015 Subject matter jurisdiction. In an action filed pursuant to s. 813.12, 813.122, or 813.125, the court has jurisdiction of the subject matter under s. 801.04 regardless of whether the alleged abuse or harassment occurred within the state. The change is primarily designed, I think, to help provide relief to targets of domestic violence who come to Wisconsin from another state, but who continue to be victimized by someone who resides in another state. The measure is also (read more…)

Bullying is Not Just a Kid Problem

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on April 2, 2015

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Cyberbullying among university students has been in the media a lot lately, with a particular emphasis on newer anonymous apps like Yik Yak and Burnbook. Last fall I wrote a post for my university’s Medium blog on the topic of bullying among college students. I thought I would re-post it here for those who may be interested: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. For most of us, the term “bullying” likely conjures images of pre-pubescent boys pushing each other on the playground or teenaged “mean girls” spreading hateful rumors in the hallways. And while most of the fanfare this month is focused on primary and secondary schools and their students, bullying remains an issue of concern among college students as well. We don’t typically (read more…)

Small Samples Don’t Speak “Truth”

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on March 27, 2015

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Our primary mission at the Cyberbullying Research Center is to translate the research we and others do into something that is meaningful and interpretable to teens, parents, educators, and others dedicated to preventing and responding more effectively to cyberbullying. When we first launched this website (10 years ago!), there wasn’t much research being done, and so it was easy to keep up. These days, however, many scholars are putting cyberbullying under the microscope, which is a very good thing. It is important to recognize, though, that not all studies are created equal. In this post I’d like to discuss one particular problem: small sample sizes. And, to be more specific, I am most concerned with the way some media reports portray results from these studies to be definitive. For illustration purposes, I’d like to highlight two recently-published papers that gained some measure of attention by the media in the last (read more…)

What the Best Bullying and Cyberbullying Assembly Speakers Do

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on February 18, 2015

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Last week I shared what I feel are the most important considerations for schools planning to host bullying assembly programs. This week, I wanted to focus on speakers themselves. As you may know from your own experiences, there are fantastic ones out there, but there are also many who leave a lot to be desired. Justin and I regularly do assemblies all across the United States (and occasionally abroad), and truly enjoy visiting and working with students, staff, and parents in this capacity. However, we simply cannot do them for everyone, as much as we would love to. As such, here are my thoughts on what the best bullying and cyberbullying assembly speakers do. Speakers need to be relatable. You may have heard that you win or lose your audience in the first few minutes of your talk. That is a short amount of time, and (read more…)

Bullying Assembly Programs – What Schools Need to Know

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on February 9, 2015

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Schools have been organizing assemblies to address bullying, substance abuse, and a variety of other student issues for as long as I can remember. I definitely remember sitting through them during middle school in particular, and – unfortunately – tuning out because I just didn’t feel like I could connect with the speaker. When it came to the assemblies about bullying, I thought to myself, “yes, we all realize that it’s wrong to be mean to others, but nothing really is going to change at my school, and so why even bother?” I admit that was quite a defeatist mentality, but I’ll blame it in large part on my disillusioned, angst-ridden adolescent self. That said, I also remember a couple of more inspirational speakers who gave presentations at my schools – and while they weren’t at all about bullying, I did find them compelling, hopeful, motivating, and even instructive. And (read more…)

Educator Searches of Private Student Social Media Profiles: The Illinois Experiment

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on January 22, 2015

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Last summer, Illinois (somewhat quietly) passed a new bullying law that took effect on January 1, 2015. The law includes language similar to at least 13 other states which makes it clear that schools have the authority to discipline students for cyberbullying that occurs off campus (and outside of a school-sponsored activity), when such behavior substantially disrupts its educational processes or orderly operation. This has been the long-held federal standard and I was happy to see Illinois moving in the right direction (see also, Minnesota’s recent update). About the time this law was signed by the governor of Illinois, a former educator from that state told me about another aspect of the law that seemed to permit educators to demand passwords to private social media profiles of students suspected of inappropriate online behaviors impacting the school. I looked into it more, and (read more…)

Chances are, Your Teen has NOT Sexted

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on January 10, 2015

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Despite a recent headline announcing the opposite, most teens do not sext. Kelly Wallace wrote an article for CNN back in November which was updated and reposted last week. Most of the content of the article is accurate, and I certainly appreciate that she referred to published research and interviewed people who know what they are talking about when it comes to issues involving teens and technology. The primary problem I have with the article, is the headline: “Chances are, your teen has sexted.” This broad proclamation is based on a study involving a small sample (175) of undergraduate students from one university in the northeastern United States. Respondents were asked in an anonymous online survey whether they had, as minors, sent sexually explicit messages to others. More than half admitted that (read more…)

Yakety Yak: What’s Up With Yik Yak?

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on December 19, 2014

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I first wrote about Yik Yak back in March, when the app took several suburban schools by storm. High school administrators around Chicago were deluged with incidents stemming from inappropriate student use of this app, ranging from bullying to bomb threats. To their credit, the administrators of the app responded quickly and restricted its use in and around most middle and high schools. Of course this didn’t stop persistent and inquisitive teens from using the app in other spaces, but it was a start. Since then, the app has slowly made its way to other parts of the country, including mine. What is Yik Yak? For those of you who have yet to encounter Yik Yak, it works like an anonymous, location-based Twitter feed. Posts are called “yaks,” and like Twitter, users are limited in the number of characters that (read more…)

Student Advisory Boards Can Inform Bullying Policies and Prevention

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on December 11, 2014

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Whenever I visit schools to give a cyberbullying assembly or presentation to parents in the community, I am also typically asked to sit down and chat with the administrators about the policies and programs they have in place. Here, they let me know what they have been doing to identify, address, and prevent teen technology misuse, and then detail some of the struggles that they have faced – like how to talk about sexting without sounding irrelevant, how to develop penalties for rule-breaking that can be consistently enforced and supported by all, and how to strategically encourage kindness and peer respect in a compelling way. Apart from sharing with them evolving best practices, I also encourage them to invite students to the table when determining what can and should be done.

Students should always feel that they have a voice at school. This means that their input (read more…)

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