It was a great honor to speak at the National Press Club yesterday. A lot of interesting questions were asked…for example, what is the role of the school nurse in cyberbullying incidents, because they are a trusted figure in whom youth are confiding…how often does cyberbullying occur as a part of dating violence…is cyberbullying simply part of a general cultural trend of social aggression to be compartmentalized like road rage, or is it so much more…. Fascinating stuff. As promised – here is a picture of me with the most recognizable face in crime-fighting, McGruff!
I have been invited by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Crime Prevention Council to provide remarks on a briefing of Internet Safety at the National Press Club in Washington DC on the morning of June 4th, 2008. I’ll be covering some of our latest cyberbullying research findings in order to heighten national awareness on the topic. I must also say that I am extremely excited about getting my picture taken with McGruff the Crime Dog. I’ll post it here if it happens!
I will be at the Jostens Renaissance National Conference presenting on cyberbullying on July 12th, 2008. More details about the conference can be found here. I’ll post more information in the near future!
One of the first questions we are asked by media, parents, educators, and others who are unfamiliar with cyberbullying is simply: what is it? This is a lot more complicated question than one would assume. In our academic work, we define cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use computers, cell phones, or other electronic devices.” This definition, while useful, is fairly broad and ambiguous. When asking youth whether or not they have experienced cyberbullying, it is important to be very specific with what you are talking about. In fact, one of the primary reasons we see such a range of estimates about how many youth experience cyberbullying is because of definitional differences. In our most recent study, we informed youth that cyberbullying was: “when someone repeatedly makes fun of another person online or repeatedly picks on another person through email or text message or when someone posts something online about another person that they don’t like.” Obviously the key feature of cyberbullying that we want to highlight is its repetitive nature. While the technology or web environment employed may change (cell phone vs. computer; MySpace vs. Yahoo Chat vs. Facebook, etc), cyberbullying behaviors remain relatively consistent: using technology to repeatedly be hurtful to others. We’ll talk more about definitional issues on this blog because they are so important. Let us know your thoughts. Is there one definition of cyberbullying that is better than the others?
As regular readers know, we have been working on our cyberbullying book for well over a year. It is currently in the copy-editing phase and is still on track for publication in August. It goes without saying that we are extremely excited about this. It is a culmination of over five years of research. We truly believe that it will be the cyberbullying book for educators, parents, and others concerned about adolescent Internet use. Over the next several months we will be rolling out additional materials to supplement the book, including lesson plans, chapter quizzes, and ideas for how to work the information into your curriculum – both for adults and older teens. Stay tuned!