Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (2nd edition)

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on October 31, 2014

By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin

The #1 cyberbullying prevention book just got better!

Cyberbullying occurs when three components intersect: teens, technology, and trouble. This perfect storm of elements manifests as harassment, humiliation, and hate that can follow a child everywhere. Drawing on the authors’ own extensive research, this groundbreaking eye-opening resource incorporates the personal voices of youth affected by or involved in cyberbullying, while helping readers understand the causes and consequences of online aggression.

Since 2007, school leaders, teachers, and parents have relied on the bestselling and award-winning first edition of Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard for practical strategies to address cyberbullying. Now in its second edition, this essential guide is completely updated with new research and evolving best practices for prevention and response, including:

– Summaries of recent legal rulings related to teens and technology, and their implications
– Discussion of the responsibilities of school personnel, and how that translates to policy and programming
– Guidance on how educators, parents, students, and law enforcement can work individually and collectively to prevent and respond to cyberbullying
– Useful “breakout boxes” highlighting strategies you can implement
– Practical resources, including an assessment instrument, scenarios, and staff development questions

Written in an accessible and informal tone by leading experts in the field, this must-have book provides the tools to prevent and respond to cyberbullying in your school community.

“This is an excellent resource that clears up much of the confusion and sometimes hysteria generated in the media on cyberbullying.  It provides prudent and do-able strategies from crafting policies, to investigating and responding to incidents. Most importantly, it provides the right mindset and philosophy for helping schools prevent the problem in the first place and for empowering all members of the school community to work together. Policymakers, administrators, teachers, parents, and students would all benefit from the knowledge contained in this book.”
– Jim Dillon, Author of No Place for Bullying (Corwin, 2012) and Director of the Center for Leadership and Bullying Prevention, Measurement Incorporated

“In a society that is grappling with the ramifications of the rapid pace of technological advancement, cyberbullying has emerged as a serious issue in education.  This book provides real-life scenarios, timely data, and best practices to help school leaders protect the children and adolescents in their schools.  All educators will find these resources useful in detecting and preventing cyberbullying and ensuring the safety of students.”
-Gail Connelly, Executive Director,
National Association of Elementary School Principals

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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Teens: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral!

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on November 27, 2013

words_wound_picNext week, our newest book will be released. And we are seriously pumped! Like all of the others, this one is on the topic of cyberbullying.  But this book is not like all of the others. Rather, it is the first book on cyberbullying that we know of that was specifically and intentionally written for teens. Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral represents our effort to give youth the tools and inspiration they need to effectively prevent and respond to cyberbullying. And more than that, it encourages them to utilize the power of technology to spread kindness throughout their schools and broader communities.

We’ve long advocated that tackling teen tech problems requires a comprehensive and coordinated effort that includes parents, educators, law enforcement officers, and other community leaders. But it should also involve those who are at the very center of these issues: teens! And we know from the many conversations we have had with teens over the last few years that they do want to be a part of the solution. Until now, however, not much was available to help them.  This book changes all of that.

Written for Teens

Whether teens are being cyberbullied, or just tired of seeing it affect their friends and school, Words Wound offers real-world advice that they can put into practice today. The book includes dozens of stories from teens who have experienced cyberbullying or who have worked in their communities to fight it in creative and effective ways. Teens are able to learn directly from those who have been wounded by words, but also from many who refused to stand idly by as their classmates were being mistreated. Readers will come to deeply appreciate the serious harm that comes from cyberbullying, but even more importantly learn the strategies they need to do something about it. Specifically, it empowers teens to combat cruelty with kindness, and to harness the power of positive peer pressure to persuade all teens to act with respect toward others, whether online or off.

It was a blast writing this book because it allowed us to get out of our comfort zone and write much more informally than we usually do.  It was as if we were sitting down and having a chat with a teen.  We get to hang out with students all of the time in schools all across the U.S. (and beyond), so we feel like we have a solid handle on what they are dealing with and how they are confronting online challenges. And we have also heard from them about what works and what doesn’t.

I deliberately tried to get inside the head of teens as I was writing for this book over this past summer by, for example, listening to current pop music by Justin Timberlake, Macklemore, and Lady Gaga instead of my usual favorites from the early 1990s. In fact, Lady Gaga had a small part in inspiring us to write this book. We were invited to participate in the launch of her Born This Way Foundation in February of 2012. The Foundation is all about empowering youth and giving them “the skills and opportunities they need to build a kinder, braver world.” We love this mission! At the launch event, an audience member asked Lady Gaga what she thought was the best way to teach students how to intervene in bullying incidents.  In reply, she explicitly called for more resources to be directed to teens to help them navigate these issues (see 1:02:20 in the video). Upon reflecting on her answer we realized that there really wasn’t much out there for teens on how to deal with cyberbullying. We knew they were thirsty for information, and so we wrote this book.

Also Helpful for Adults

Even though this book is for teens, we also see it as a great resource for parents, educators, or really anyone who works with youth to help them navigate the difficult intersection of adolescence and technology.  Adults who read the book will learn from teens themselves as their experiences represent the bulk of the book. They will also be given teen-tested and approved strategies for dealing with cyberbullying, and come to appreciate the importance of their role (and responsibilities) as the “Trusted Adult.” We enlisted input from several teen editors to review the content in the book to make sure the suggestions were realistic, appropriate, and relevant to them (special shout out to Kylie and Kevin who went above and beyond in their efforts to help us!).

Moreover, to assist adults, we’ve created a companion Leader’s Guide which will be freely available and allow teachers, counselors, or youth group leaders to use Words Wound to teach teens about empathy, cyberbullying, and digital citizenship.  It includes learning objectives, discussion questions, activities, and assessment questions for every chapter. We believe it is perfect for educators who are looking for a teen-oriented book to guide them through lessons on these difficult concepts. This is especially important given the federal mandate that schools teach about cyberbullying awareness and response.

More Than a Book

Ultimately, our hope for this project is to take it well beyond just the book. We really want to create a mindset among teens where care and compassion become contagious and where cruelty is viewed as simply not cool. We know there are pockets of youth out there in their schools actively promoting this perspective, and a few of their stories are highlighted in the book. We will continue to support their efforts by showcasing success stories on our new teen-oriented website www.wordswound.org and popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Be sure to visit those sites, and continue to follow this blog as we roll out exciting new resources and activities to help teens delete cyberbullying and make kindness go viral!

To pre-order a copy of Words Wound, visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound.

Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on November 12, 2013

By Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja

Many well-meaning researchers and experts have written a number of books for adults that detail the nature and extent of cyberbullying, and offer suggestions for parents, educators, and other adults to effectively respond to the problem. In fact, Dr. Patchin and Dr. Hinduja have written three books just like this! Words Wound is different. This book represents their effort to speak directly to teens. They’ve long argued that it takes a coordinated community effort to address cyberbullying, and teens can and should be a big part of that. And they want to be.

Whether teens are being cyberbullied or simply sick of seeing the drama play out online every single day, Words Wound offers real-world advice that they can put into practice today. The book includes dozens of stories from teens who have experienced cyberbullying or who have worked in their respective schools to stop it in creative and meaningful ways. Readers are able to learn directly from those who have been wounded by cyberbullying, but also from many who refused to put up with it at their schools. Teens will come to deeply appreciate the serious harm that comes with cyberbullying, but more importantly learn the strategies they need to be part of the solution. Specifically, it encourages and empowers them to combat cruelty with kindness, and to harness the power of positive peer pressure to persuade all teens to act with respect toward others.

Patchin and Hinduja have spent more than a decade studying cyberbullying and have spoken to thousands of teens – those who have experienced, participated in, or witnessed cyberbullying. Based on what was learned, they believe teens are uniquely positioned to be the primary catalyst of lasting change in their schools and communities. Words Wound represents a reflection of teen voices and provides a toolkit of helpful and practical ideas based on their varied experiences.

Patchin, J. W. & Hinduja, S. (2014). Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral. Minneapolis, MN, Free Spirit Publishing.

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School Climate 2.0: Reviews and Response

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on June 25, 2013

school-climate-coverSince our book School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time was published last year, the response has been amazing.  Many educators have come up to us at events around the country to tell us how much they really appreciate the research-based information and strategies that they can put to use in their classrooms.  Others who know a thing or two about teaching and technology have also chimed in with their opinions.

For example, Kevin Jennings, the former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education said “this book is filled with useful information and practical tips for those who seek to create positive school climates where bullying of all kinds is minimized.” Joe Sullivan, the Chief Security Officer of Facebook said: “this practical guide provides important information, backed up by careful research, about the ways that adults can help build constructive dialogues and relationships with students.”  Jonathan Cohen from the National School Climate Center called it a “wise and practically helpful book.” You can read more thoughtful reviews here.  The book has also been reviewed 21 times on Amazon.com and all but one reviewer gave it 5 stars.  So, suffice it to say that the weight of the public opinion on the book has been wonderfully positive.

All of this not-so-shameless self-promotion sets the stage for an email Sameer and I received last week that our book had been recently reviewed as it was being evaluated for an award.  Here is the entire, unedited review:

“This book should be required reading for any educator currently facing today’s youth in classrooms. Easy to read, practical information and suggestions abound throughout. I do not feel the authors clearly indicate how school officials and administrators might influence or mitigate out-of-school, off-site social media bullying, other than showing repeatedly that what happens online after school very much affects school climate the next day. This really is the crux of the problem not only for schools, but with this book. Five out of the eight chapters focus on an out-of-school online climate that is most often also out-of-reach legally for school administrators. However, the authors do an excellent job of discussing the unintended consequences of the necessities and practicalities of BYOD, and offer many ideas to try (example: Delete Day). There are many lists of questions for administrators to ask themselves and students about school climate. The chapter summaries are actually a great learning tool, as they nicely recap the entire chapter. Throughout, the authors maintain a very positive approach.”

Even though the review starts out great and notes several positive aspects of the book, I found myself focusing in on the two criticisms, or really misunderstandings, that were expressed by the reviewer. And because we have this great venue with which to connect with you, our loyal followers, I thought I would take a minute to respond to these concerns.

The first issue raised by the reviewer was that the book did not “clearly indicate how school officials and administrators might influence or mitigate out-of-school, off-site social media bullying…”  I feel that the book makes a very compelling argument, starting right in Chapter 1 that the strength of the student/teacher relationship vis-à-vis a positive climate at the school was one such way to have a great influence: “by developing strong relationships between the school and students, among students themselves, and between the school and their families, this principle can be used to dissuade negative behaviors and encourage positive behaviors even when adults aren’t around—such as when teens are online” (p. 11).  In fact, this is the entire thesis of the book!  The whole point of the book is that educators who work to foster a positive climate at school *can* influence the behavioral choices of students, even when they are away from school. This perspective is revisited throughout the book and in Chapter 6 in particular when we discuss numerous specific strategies for improving the climate with the broader goal of “mitigating” the “off-site” problematic behaviors.

The second criticism that jumped out at me was the suggestion that much of the content of the book “…focus[es] on an out-of-school online climate that is most often also out-of-reach legally for school administrators.”  Chapter 9 addresses this misunderstanding head on, as illustrated by this specific subheading: “Can Schools Respond to Behaviors That Occur Away From Campus” (p. 164).  The short answer is, of course, yes, they can! And that chapter spells out the legal, policy, and ethical arguments for that response. The bottom line is that educators *can* respond to any behaviors, even those that occur far away from the school, if the behaviors result in, or have a articulable and imminent likelihood of resulting in, a substantial disruption of the learning environment at school (see also this blog post).  We believe that most cyberbullying incidents can rise to this level but that educators need to respond appropriately and reasonably.

This reviewer apparently didn’t read our book very carefully.  Perhaps the evidence for this conclusion lies within the content of the review itself.  Exhibit A is this statement: “Five out of the eight chapters focus on…”  The book actually contains 9 chapters.  Exhibit B is this: “The chapter summaries are actually a great learning tool, as they nicely recap the entire chapter.” Could it be that the reviewer simply read the summaries and not the full contents of each chapter?  Whatever the cause for the confusion, we are always happy to address questions and concerns raised in our writing. The value for us in this blog is in our ability to connect more directly with you so that we can discuss these issues in a way that is more enlightening to all.  We learn something new from our online friends every day, whether it comes in the form of a comment on the blog, an email, or a social media mention.  And we try to pass along new insights or explanations of our various materials.  So don’t hesitate to contact us!  Whether it is for the purpose of complementing, criticizing, or clarification, we are here to listen, learn, and pass along important updates.  We are all in this together!

Education Week Teacher Book Club

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on October 25, 2011

One of the first things we learned in our earliest cyberbullying studies was that targets were not telling adults about their experiences. Even today, very few students who are cyberbullied talk with adults about what is going on. The concern we have heard from adolescents time and time again is that they are afraid to tell adults because they think they will be blamed or their cell phones or computers will be taken away. They are embarrassed or scared and overall they just think things will get worse for them if they tell an adult. Well, whose fault is it that teens don’t feel comfortable talking to us about their experiences? One clue: it’s not *their* fault. We as adults need to take the initiative to learn more about what teens are doing online (the good and the bad) and equip ourselves with knowledge and tools to prevent and successfully respond to cyberbullying when it happens.


Today starts a four day online discussion of Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard on the Education Week Teacher Web site.  If you have read our book, please join in the conversation!  There are a lot of great strategies out there and a discussion involving our book can help stimulate other innovative ideas. Only when we come together to effectively respond to cyberbullying will targets open up and share their experiences with us.  We look forward to reading your insights on the Education Week Teacher Discussion Forum.

Prevention and Response Campaign using our cyberbullying book as the anchor

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on May 24, 2011

We remain very proud of our award-winning cyberbullying book from Sage Publications, and continue to receive great feedback about it.  More and more school districts are purchasing it for their educators, and we are very thankful for that.  Our goal is (and has always been) to meaningfully equip those on the front lines of this problem with practical strategies they can immediately implement in schools and homes.  We hate fluff, and we are all about substance – and so towards that end I thought I would share with you some recommendations as to how our book might serve as the centerpiece of a cyberbullying prevention and intervention campaign at your school.


1.  Assign book, chapter by chapter, to all administrators at elementary, middle, and high schools across your district or county.  We know that many administrators will want their teachers to read it, and so you can decide what you want to mandate and what you want to make optional.


2.  Create a web site/blog/message board system where each administrator must respond within a certain timeframe to the “quiz” questions at the end of each chapter.


3.  Allow message board to facilitate dialogue between and among administrators on the “discussion” questions for each chapter.  They will be able to learn from each other, and this will contribute to a team-effort mentality across the district.


4.  Create a web-based form for the “Cyberbullying Report Card for Schools” to allow administrators to see where they stand on prevention/response initiatives at their campus, and a “Notes” section to indicate a plan of action (and timeline) for correcting deficiencies.


5.  Require each school to designate a Trustee (in keeping with the book’s suggestion) and create a master list of Trustees to be posted on the Web and made known throughout the school – so that everyone in the school knows the primary Point-of-Contact for cyberbullying-related matters at that school.


6.  Read the numerous cyberbullying-related scenarios presented in the book to students in all classes to stimulate dialogue about the issues, and to demonstrate that school personnel recognize the gravity of the problem and want to do whatever it takes to help.


7.  Have students at each school spearhead a PSA campaign (or something similar – like posters, comics, limericks, etc.) related to cyberbullying, and have a grand prize to give to the winning team(s).  Please see our handy Top Ten Cyberbullying Prevention Tips for Teens resource.


8.  Have a formal meeting once every Spring where the latest research findings and prevention/response information is presented to administrators from these schools.


9.  Require a PTA (or equivalent) meeting to be held at each school to demonstrate to parents that the school is on top of issues related to use and abuse of technology by students.


10.  Build in an evaluation component, where you survey administrator/teacher beliefs regarding cyberbullying before and after or through an experimental and control group.  You should also survey students about the extent to which their teachers/admins care about this issue (pre/post).  Our Cyberbullying Research Center can help with this and provide informal or formal guidance.


We’d love to hear how you have used and benefitted from our book, and so please feel free to contact us with your thoughts and feedback!

Happy New Year and CRC Initiatives for 2011

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on January 3, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! We hope that you all enjoyed whatever holiday you celebrated and that your 2011 is productive and rewarding. Sameer and I have a number of exciting projects and initiatives planned for 2011 and I just wanted to preview some of those here so that you can follow our progress over the next several months. We are writing two books that will come out in 2011. The first is a collection of essays from the leading cyberbullying experts from around the United States titled: Cyberbullying Prevention and Response: Expert Perspectives and will be in print later in the summer. Sameer and I are very excited about this project as it summarizes insights from those who have been involved in exploring the issue of cyberbullying from various disciplines for many years. The book will summarize the current state of knowledge concerning cyberbullying and provide concrete prevention and response strategies for adults who have, and who work with youth.


In the second book that is forthcoming, Sameer and I explore the importance of school culture and climate in preventing a variety of school problems—including those that begin or are amplified online. We hope to enlighten educators, parents, and teens about the tremendous importance of cultivating a positive school climate, not only to enhance student achievement, success, and productivity, but because a respectful climate at school will produce students who are safe, smart, honest, and responsible while using technology. Stay tuned for more information about the status of these projects.


We are working with several public and private organizations on education programs related to cyberbullying and online responsibility. A number of these will be rolled out over the next few months. We are scheduled to present at numerous schools, conferences, and trainings across the United States (and abroad) in 2011. Be sure to regularly check our events page for a listing of appearances that are open to the public in your area. Finally, we will continue to update our website and this blog with the latest information regarding the nature and extent of cyberbullying, and ways to combat it. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have comments or questions about any of the information on our site. If you are reading this blog you share in our mission to encourage the safe and responsible use of technology. Together we can make a difference.

New Book Review of “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard”

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on July 28, 2010

Dr. Steve Taffee, Director of Strategic Projects at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California, has recently posted a very detailed, honest, and helpful review about our cyberbullying book.  He has given me permission to share it with our blog readers, and so I have included it below:
With Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin have written a balanced, sensible book about cyberbullying that every concerned educator should read. If your own source of information about cyberbullying has been what you read in the newspaper or see on television, it is doubly important to read something that is based on research, law, and common sense.

The authors define cyberbullying as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” We’re not talking about the occasional flame or put-down between adolescents having an online spat, but a repeated behavior that harms another.


The authors begin with an overview of traditional bullying, its relationship to its online counterpart, how they differ, and how changes in technology are providing more and different opportunities for bullying to occur. While there are plenty of horror stories about the extremes of cyberbullying, many of which are recounted in the book, the authors are careful to point out that while such extremes may be deemed newsworthy, they are atypical. They describe the many forms that cyberbullying can take, from email to texting to social networking. Much of their research on social networking appears to have been completed in 2006 and 2007, which accounts for the prominence of MySpace in their reporting. To their credit they had the prescience to acknowledge that new technologies could come along to supplant MySpace, as Facebook has done in terms of total number of users.


For the research-oriented reader, chapter 3 “What do we Know about Cyberbullying,” provides a feast of research – both original and recounted from other studies – about what is known about the extent of the cyberbullying issue, demographics of bullies and victims, and responses of victims to bullying attacks.


Living in the Silicon Valley it is hard for me to imagine that parents are clueless about this issue, but I recognize that this is true here and therefore the lack of awareness may be even more widespread in other parts of the country. Fortunately, in at least one area of technology, adults are flocking online in as great a number as adolescents: social networking. Once the bastion of young people, the fastest growing segment of the Facebook are women, age 55-65. This may be distressing to young people who previously considered social networking as their exclusive province.


The authors seem to be of two minds when it comes to teens and social networking. On the one hand, they point to research that shows that “online interaction provides a venue to learn and refine the ability to exercise self-control, to relate with tolerance and respect others’ viewpoints, to express sentiments in a healthy and appropriate manner, and to engage in critical thinking and decision making… [promoting] self-discovery and identity formation, [and providing] a virtual venue in which to share Web-based cultural artifacts like links, pictures, videos, and stories and remain intimately connected with friends regardless of geographical location.” I heartily support this viewpoint, and their observation that “Some schools are even embracing social networking Web sites as instructional tools.” Yet later in the book they write “we…recommend specifying certain Web sites and software applications that are forbidden at school (e.g. MySpace, AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, and Second Life.”


Given their evenhandedness throughout the rest of the text, I find it difficult to reconcile these two viewpoints. They are especially keen on involving teens, educators and parents in a dialogue about appropriate use of the Internet. “Even if we put up a united front, teachers and parents cannot supervise kids 100 percent of the time. They will log on at the library, at a friend’s house, or somewhere else. Why fight it? Why not instead teach teenagers how to use social networking sites (and other online environments) conscientiously?” So which is it? Dialogue or banning? (See my previous post, Is It Safe?)


The chapter on legal issues is intriguing, but ultimately the take-away is that the area of student expression, safety, on- and off-campus behavior, and school liability and responsibility is unsettled case law. Clever attorneys on on different sides of an issue can make compelling arguments that may lead of a conviction in one case, and exoneration in another. (As Shakespeare wrote, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”) Ultimately, schools are left largely to their own devices. The authors provide several helpful forms in the appendices of the book and other information on the books’ website that schools can use to help develop policies and educational programs for faculty, students, and parents.


(As a side note, one of the interesting cases cited by the authors and many others in the area of student freedom of speech is Tinker v Des Moines. This case was applied in Layschock v. Hermitage School District (2006) to initially uphold a student suspension for creating a MySpace profile that poked fun of the school’s principal, and that the disruption to the school was significant enough to cause computers to be taken offline for five days, some classes (presumably computer classes) to be canceled, and an inordinate amount of attention from teachers. From this brief description, it would appear that the disruption to the school was largely caused by the its overreaction to the the incident. What would the response have been if graffiti had been painted on the school proclaiming “Our principal is a %##!) You remove it in less than an hour. Problem over. I guess some principals are thin skinned.)


If you read only one book about cyberbullying make it this one. It’s an important contribution to the conversation. I hope that the authors will expand their website to make it more interactive and continue to update the book as technology, law, and school practices evolve.

Our book is NCPC’s June Book of the Month! New Podcast!

Posted by Sameer Hinduja on June 9, 2010

We have more great news concerning our book: the National Crime Prevention Council has chosen to feature it as its June 2010 Book Club selection!  Part of this feature involves an extensive interview, where I discussed in detail how each and every person can take an active role in the prevention of cyberbullying and online victimization.  You can listen to the podcast here (MP3 file, 17 minutes), or search for it in iTunes.  This, along with the recent honor of “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying” being chosen as the best Education book of 2009 by ForeWord Reviews, have made us very proud of our work.  We hope it continues to be an excellent resource and help to you.

“Bullying beyond the Schoolyard” Named Education Book of the Year by Foreword Reviews

Posted by Justin W. Patchin on May 28, 2010

Sameer and I are proud to report that ForeWord Reviews has selected our book, “Bullying beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying” as the 2009 Book of the Year in the Education category.  As noted on their web site, the award is based on the following criteria: editorial excellence, intent of book met by author, originality of subject matter, accuracy, author credentials, and professional packaging.  This is an amazing honor that we appreciate very much.  Thanks to all of the folks at Corwin Press, especially our editor Debbie Stollenwerk, for helping us to produce a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and others interested in learning more and doing something about online aggression among adolescents.