Cyberbullying - 21st Century Harassment

Author
Dennis Lewis
Date of Post
May 10, 2010

21st Century Harassment - Sent Electronically Yours

During most discussions of harassment and intimidation related to students, cyber-bullying is sure to be mentioned. And, while this hot topic may not be one of the most pressing problems facing  principals rest assured it will be one of the more troubling issues facing students.

For principals, there is not always a clear line of distrinction between whether or not this type of behavior is a school matter.  however, as a school administrator, there are things that can be done to help students, parents and staff understand individual responsibilities related to techno harassment.

Provide Parent, Student and Staff Education 

While most people have some knowledge of this topic, they sometimes underestimate the extent of a student’s involvement, or, when aware of the problem, may not know how best to help.

Through the use of parent education meetings, newsletters, staff development, student forums, faculty and student handbooks, and school newspapers, principals should provide the following information to students, staff, and parents:

  1. A definition of cyber-bullying - Cyber-bullying is often defined as using an electronic device to send damaging or hurtful messages about an individual with the intent to hurt a reputation or friendship with others.
  2. The venues for this destructive behavior– social networking sites, text messaging, emails and instant messaging - can all provide a ‘place’ for harassment. 
  3. The types of cyber-bullying – Provide information related to the various ways this behavior may manifest itself.
    • Flaming - online fights using electronic messages
    • Harassment - repeatedly sending insulting messages
    • Denigration - posting gossip or rumors
    • Impersonation - pretending to be someone else
    • Outing - sharing secrets or embarassing information
    • Cyber-stalking - repeated harassment or threats
    • Dissing - Using disrespectful language or tone
  4. Appropriate student responses to the behavior

5.       Appropriate adults responses to the behavior

Remember, electronic harassment and intimidation can be detrimental a school’s educational climate. Disruptions, fights, and even extreme acts of violence may result when the problem is ignored.