Think about how many times every day you use a password on a phone, computer, social media site, gaming network, or another online account. Passwords are a huge part of our daily lives. Technically, they serve as authentication to identify people as being who they claim to be. Correct authentication is supposed to prevent others from accessing or altering your personal data, so passwords should be kept very secure. Unfortunately, some people put themselves at risk of cyberbullying, identity theft, or other dangers by sharing or exposing their passwords. For instance, we’ve asked hundreds of groups of students if they know any of their friends’ passwords. The majority say ‘yes’ every single time!
I’d chosen to give my Facebook password to one of my “best friends.” She was friends with a girl who I’d been having some bullying problems with. One day my “friend” was (read more…)
Apart from our efforts within various public schools around the nation, Justin and I also work regularly with parochial schools as they attempt to reduce bullying and encourage kindness across their campuses. This gives us a chance to really connect with the youth there in a powerful way by dovetailing their faith with a call for God-honoring behavior – both offline and online. As a Christian, I find these opportunities very rewarding, and I thought it would be good to share something I’ve presented and discussed with high school kids from one of the Catholic Dioceses we work with. Perhaps it can be used to stimulate conversation in other parochial or youth-group settings.
You’re a teenager. You seek to live a life that honors the Lord. And so you know you shouldn’t bully others. If you were asked to give a scriptural (read more…)
Researchers at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) just published a paper in the journal Psychology of Violence that explores the question of whether technology “amplifies” the harm for youth who are harassed. Anecdotally, we have heard this to be the case from many youth over the years: that the bullying they experienced online was as bad, and in some cases much worse, than the bullying that they experienced at school. Adolescent targets, for example, often reported feeling less equipped to stop cyberbullying. They confronted more barriers when confiding in adults about these behaviors. Educators have policies and are trained to deal with the bullying that occurs on school grounds, but up until very recently this wasn’t the case for online bullying that occurred away from school. (read more…)
The Obama administration arguably declared war on bullying in the fall of 2010 when it convened the first federally-supported Bullying Prevention Summit. In 2011, stopbullying.gov was launched. That same year, I attended a conference hosted by President Obama at the White House, where he said: “If there is one goal of this conference, it is to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.” Since then, significant resources have been directed toward various programs and initiatives, resulting in what could be characterized as a “Bullying Industrial Complex.” Many companies now offer simple “solutions” to bullying. But are any of these efforts working? Lessons Learned from Efforts in the Criminal Justice System Forty years ago, sociologist Robert Martinson published an article that changed the course of history, or at least the (read more…)
At a recent conference in Chester County, Pennsylvania, I had the privilege of getting to know Andy Faust, who is an authority on special education law at Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP. In particular, I was impressed by his level of expertise and intrigued by his astute observations about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and how some kids who are bullied – and some kids who bully others – may be entitled to the federal law’s protections as “children with disabilities.” I told Andy that no one is really talking about the reality and implications of this in my circles, and that it is worth sharing to our readership so that they can fully understand the situation. So, he and I have been going back and (read more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)