Bully Reporting Apps for K-12 School Leaders

Mobile apps are transforming the ways that K-12 administrators manage their schools, network with other leaders, and engage in professional development. Now, a new kind of app is helping to make bullying prevention a process that consumes less time and resources: the bully reporting app.

A number of bully reporting apps for students have been released over the past few years. But school leaders have been somewhat left out of this trend, as app developers have chosen to focus on the easier task of report creation rather than the more difficult task of report tracking, management, and resolution.

To stay ahead on top of the latest trends in bullying and cyberbullying, school leaders must take their existing approaches to bullying prevention and update them to work in today’s mobile world. That’s why school administrators need a mobile app of their own to handle the reports of bullying that they are receiving.

 

The Case for Bully Reporting Apps

The traditional bullying prevention program is quickly becoming obsolete. Mobile technology has already transformed how our students learn inside the classroom and how they communicate outside of it. It has also transformed the way they bully each other. Unfortunately, most traditional bullying prevention programs have not kept pace with these changes, despite the big price tags that these programs often come with.

School administrators must keep up with these technological changes if they want their bullying prevention programs to make a difference. If they don’t, the investments of time and dollars they have put into implementing traditional bullying prevention programs will go to waste.

How do school leaders keep up? We think that bully reporting apps are the next big thing in bullying prevention. By shifting the paradigm of what bullying prevention is and thinking about it in mobile terms, school leaders can improve the effectiveness of their bullying prevention programs.

 

Apps Change Everything

School leaders who have a bully reporting app on their phones are better equipped to handle incidents of bullying that take place in their schools. How are they better equipped? There are several ways:

  • Instead of reacting to events, they can prevent problems from happening. For example, many CyberBully Hotline clients are already using the system to diffuse situations that could turn into incidents of harassment, fighting, or other problems; they encourage students to make reports, and then students text or call in with messages such as, “Bobby and Jimmy are about to fight in the science hall.” Administrators can stop small conflicts from spinning out of control with the CyberBully Hotline, and our app makes this process even simpler.
  • With an app like the CyberBully Hotline app, administrators have the ability to respond to student reports even faster, no matter whether they’re at their desks or elsewhere on campus.
  • By preventing small conflicts from spinning out of control, administrators can minimize behavioral issues and avoid having to do endless amounts of bully reporting paperwork.

 

Bullying Prevention Gone Mobile

So, how does the addition of a bully reporting app change a school’s bullying prevention program? We think there are three key points:

  • The traditional program of character education, bullying prevention presentations, classroom meetings, etc. is great – but in the mobile world, it is just one piece of the puzzle.
  • Student reporting is another piece of the puzzle. Schools need to have a system like the CyberBully Hotline in place, and students need to be encouraged to use it. Promotion should be done consistently and over time. And students need to have the option of reporting any problems on their mobile devices, which are the gateways to their social lives today.
  • In concert with the school’s anonymous reporting system, the administrators’ bully reporting app allows school leaders to find out about simmering issues before they boil over and cause real trouble.

 

CyberBully Hotline App Review

Bully Reporting AppLike the CyberBully Hotline system itself, our app is full-featured but very simple to use. Here’s a review of the app’s features and capabilities.

  • Download the free CyberBully Hotline app onto your smartphone to get started.
  • When reports of bullying, fighting, or other issues come into your CyberBully Hotline number, you’ll get a notification.
  • Open the app to respond to new reports. The simple mobile interface uses the same graphics as our CyberBully Hotline desktop application, so you’ll feel right at home inside the app.
  • Click on a message thread to see all of the messages in that thread. You can easily see exchanges between administrators and reporters, just as you would in a regular text messaging application.
  • Read and respond to text-based reports in real time.
  • Listen to voice reports with just a click of a button.
  • All actions you take within the app are automatically synced in the system, making for a seamless experience between your mobile device and your desktop or laptop.

 

Learn More About Bully Reporting Apps

For more info on bully reporting apps, contact the CyberBully Hotline team. Just click here to fill out our Info Request form, or call us at 1-800-420-1479. Our team will be happy to give you a demo of the CyberBully Hotline system and app as well as help you learn more about the benefits of anonymous bully reporting systems.

 

 

School Shooting Prevention: Suspicious Behavior Often Goes Unreported

It happens after almost every school shooting where a student is involved. After the rampage is over, classmates come forward and reveal disturbing information about the shooter. For example, students may say that the shooter:

  • Bragged about an act of violence they said they would commit.
  • Shared articles or manuals on how to commit an act of violence.
  • Asked others to participate in an act of violence.

Students may observe this kind of behavior for months or even years before a shooting takes place. Unfortunately, students almost never report this kind of behavior until it is too late.

Why does this happen? Why don’t our students report suspicious things that they see or hear?

There are several reasons:

  • No one has told them to. Without some training on what behavior should be reported and consistent encouragement from school leaders to make reports, many students won’t even think about reporting suspicious activity.
  • They don’t take the threat seriously. Young students don’t have the same training that law enforcement officers do, so when they hear a classmate say, “I’m gonna blow up the school,” they immediately assume the threat is not credible.
  • People look for the good in others. When asked what the shooter was like before a shooting, students will often say things like, “He was a good kid. He seemed nice. I can’t believe they did it.” People don’t want to assume bad things about others, even when their intuition might tell them otherwise.
  • They’re afraid of retaliation. Students are afraid of what might happen to them if they “tell on” a classmate and the person finds out.
  • They’re afraid of getting in trouble with adults. Students may fear that administrators or parents will assume they’re involved if they report suspicious activity.
  • They don’t believe anything will be done. If students don’t feel that school leaders listen to their concerns, then they won’t waste their time reporting suspicious activity.

Despite the dozens of dramatic incidents of school violence we’ve seen over the past few decades, the reasons why students don’t report suspicious behavior have remained the same. It’s time that we all invest more time and resources into violence prevention efforts.

To overcome students’ natural resistance to reporting suspicious activity, there are three basic steps that administrators need to take:

  • Build a culture of trust. Actions speak louder than words. When students know they can trust you to act on their concerns, they are more likely to come forward.
  • Make the time for violence prevention training. Every school administrator is busy, and training can cost valuable time and money – but that is not an excuse to push aside violence prevention efforts. Train students on what they should report and keep encouraging reports over time.
  • Give students the option of reporting anonymously. Students may be more willing to make a report if they know they won’t have to face retaliation or criticism for doing so.

We can’t prevent all incidents of school violence. However, if every school in America took the steps outlined above, then perhaps we wouldn’t have to see another mass shooting that could have been prevented. Let’s all work together to encourage students to report suspicious activity in our schools.

For more information on how the CyberBully Hotline can assist with your violence prevention efforts, click here.

Do Anti-Bullying Programs in Schools Work?

UT Arlington Anti-Bullying StudySchool principals, counselors, and journalists are buzzing about a new study from researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington, which casts doubt on the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs in schools. Could it be true that anti-bullying programs hurt more than they help?

Here’s a quick overview of the study’s findings and three implications it has for school leaders.

Study Offers Surprising Findings

  • Data from 7,000 students in all 50 states was analyzed
  • Comparison between schools that do and do not have anti-bullying programs was made
  • Researchers found that students were more likely to have experienced bullying at schools that have installed an anti-bullying program

Implication #1: Education Does Not Equal Prevention

The study’s authors suggest that behavior-based anti-bullying programs, which educate students on what behaviors are defined as bullying, may actually be teaching bullies how to bully more effectively!

In other words, when bullies gain a better understanding of the behaviors that educators want to stop, they may simply keep bullying but change their methods to avoid detection.

Thus, we can conclude that educating students about bullying won’t necessarily reduce bullying. There will always be students who choose to bully others, and behavior-based anti-bullying programs alone won’t be able to stop them.

Implication #2: Holistic Anti-Bullying Strategies Are Needed

The study’s authors argue that a multi-pronged approach may be the most effective way to prevent bullying.

Besides bullying education programs for students, the authors suggest that the presence of uniformed security officers on campus and teacher involvement in anti-bullying efforts might be useful in preventing bullying in schools, among other things.

Here at the CyberBully Hotline, our experience validates this conclusion. Many of the schools we work with install a variety of programs to address bullying, such as character education, school resource officer, and anonymous reporting programs.

Implication #3: Anonymous Reporting Programs Can Help

The study’s authors note that bullies sometimes retain their high position in the student social hierarchy even after bullying education programs are put into place. A natural conclusion following this is that there must be another check and balance on bullying behavior within the school community.

Perhaps the most effective means of stopping bullying is giving students the ability to report bullying anonymously. When bullying victims and bystanders are free to report bullying anonymously, without fear of retribution from the bullies or punishment from school administrators, bad behavior can go down dramatically.

The middle school profiled in this CyberBully Hotline case study found this to be true. Students disciplined for fighting at the school went down 92% year over year after school leaders implemented a CyberBully Hotline program. This great success was achieved thanks to students proactively texting in tips to their school’s CyberBully Hotline. This helped school leaders intervene before feuding students had the chance to fight in most cases.

Conclusion: The Truth About Anti-Bullying Programs

We argue that the news headlines about this study don’t tell the whole story.

It’s wrong to suggest that students are more likely to be bullied at schools that have anti-bullying programs. A more accurate statement is to say that students at schools with ineffective approaches to bullying prevention are more likely to be bullied.

The schools who have successfully used programs like the CyberBully Hotline to reduce bullying are living proof that some approaches to bullying prevention work. When schools have the power to hold bullies accountable for their behavior, they can stay focused on their most important objectives: educating students and building a positive school climate.

For more information on how the CyberBully Hotline can help your school prevent bullying, click here.

Teen Suicide Myths, Facts, and Statistics

By Greg Howard

Teen suicide myths, facts, and statisticsThe CyberBully Hotline team has been working to build awareness about teen suicide in recent months, and this article is one of our efforts to do that. Here, we present five teen suicide myths, along with the statistics and facts that disprove these myths.

Myth #1: Suicide isn’t very common among teens.

Truth: Suicide is the third leading cause of death behind accidents and homicide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We lose about 4,600 teens to suicide each year – an average of more than a dozen teens per day.

Myth #2: Suicide would never happen to a teen in your community.

Truth: Teens of all races, states, socioeconomic backgrounds, and gender identities die from suicide. In fact, statistics tell us that the overall rate of teen suicide has increased dramatically over the past few decades, and a rise has been seen in most major racial and socioeconomic groups. Whether you work for a top-flight private school in the Northeast, an inner city school on the West Coast, a rural school in the Midwest, or another kind of school somewhere else, suicide can happen in your school community.

Myth #3: Teens who threaten to commit suicide need attention, not treatment.

Truth: Seventy five percent of people who die from suicide let others know they are considering suicide before taking their lives. That staggering number should make us all pause and recognize that many suicides are preventable. When a teen tells you they are thinking of suicide, assume they are telling the truth and get them the help they need.

Myth #4: Talking with teenagers about suicide places the idea in their heads and should be avoided.

Truth: If you suspect that a teen is considering suicide, there’s a good chance that they are, and talking about it can help them begin to work through their feelings. Mere talk of suicide does not push teens into it, and avoiding the subject can prevent you from getting help for someone who is actually considering suicide.

Myth #5: There is nothing that can be done to prevent suicide.

Truth: Many people believe that suicidal people are determined to end their lives, but this simply isn’t true. Mental health professionals say that most suicidal teenagers do want to live and are searching for reasons to remain hopeful. Moreover, while it is true that we can’t prevent every single suicide, we can absolutely do more to keep suicidal teens from going over the edge. School leaders can work with organizations such as the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to build suicide prevention programs in their schools and districts.


The facts are clear: thousands of students are struggling with suicidal thoughts, and as long as these teen suicide myths are perpetuated, more preventable deaths will take place. Take time to learn more about suicide prevention and review your school’s efforts to help prevent teen suicide.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone, and there is hope. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected with a counselor in your area.

School leaders can implement a CyberBully Hotline program at their school to help students with suicidal thoughts come forward and report their problems. Click here to request more information.

Preparing for Active Shooter Attacks: One School’s Story

By Greg Howard

Active Shooter DrillsBANG, BANG, BANG. A school shooting is in progress, and everyone is on high alert. There is chaos and confusion, panic and disorder. Chilling screams echo through the halls, and people run frantically for cover.

Students rush into classrooms and teachers barricade doors with desks. Meanwhile, bodies – some alive and injured, others dead – lay strewn across the hallway. A voice on the intercom announces where the shooter was last seen in the building. Those in hiding hold their breath and listen closely, trying to hear if the shooter is coming near their room.

And then the police come. Room by room, classroom doors open and officers enter with their guns drawn. Hands go up as officers sweep across the room checking for threats. After officers declare an area clear, it’s time for the bystanders to get out. Students and teachers come out from their hiding places and scatter out into the halls, running to the exits the officers are pointing them to.

Active Shooter DrillFortunately, this was just a drill.  The announcer on the intercom declares that the active shooter drill is over, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief. Students who were hurt or deceased just a moment earlier laugh about their Academy Award worthy performances. People discuss how they hid under desks or squeezed themselves into broom closets.  And then it’s time to get back into position for the next drill.

Although it’s easy to talk casually about the drills when the day is over, the experience was intense. The noise of the gunfire and loud screams were unsettling. Drills that lasted for just a few moments seemed to go on forever. And the rush of adrenaline that everyone felt was real.

That was our experience when we attended an active shooter drill in Rolla, Missouri this week. School administrators and students from all over the local area gathered at Rolla Junior High School to help first responders prepare to respond to school shooters.  Over the course of a few hours, several scenarios were executed, and different groups of officers played different roles as each scenario took place.

Sadly, incidents of school violence like those seen during the 2012-13 school year have made drills like this one necessary for first responders. What gives us hope for the future are the moments like the ones we experienced in Rolla. The sight of so many community members coming together to support one another was impressive. All participants were volunteers, so no one had to be there; it was a midsummer day, and students and school leaders could have been off enjoying their summer vacation. The fact that people in the community were willing to volunteer their time to help law enforcement officers was a very positive thing. We should all look to their example and seek out ways to support the first responders in our own communities.

We’d like to thank Sgt. Wayne Rapier, the Rolla Police Department, and everyone in the Rolla School District who welcomed us to participate in the active shooter drill. We’re happy we were able to attend and see firsthand how active shooter drills work.

Keep up with our Professional Development Series for more info on school violence prevention. Click the following links for free PD webinars on:

You will be taken to the SchoolReach website to view these webinars.

Allowing Cell Phones In School: Benefits and Risks

By Greg Howard

School leaders worldwide are asking themselves an important question these days: What are the pros and cons of school cell phone bans?

We have firsthand knowledge of how hotly debated this topic is. A recent discussion that we started on LinkedIn about student cell phone use policies drew responses from around the globe!

There are significant differences in how our discussion participants perceive student mobile device use. Many U.S.-based leaders are now embracing student device use after banning it for many years. Meanwhile, participants outside the U.S. still think of mobile devices as a potential problem that must be strictly controlled.

Let’s examine the potential impacts of these differences on our schools.

DISCUSSION STATS

At the time we wrote this post:

  • 33 school leaders had joined in on our discussion
  • 13 participants were based in the USA; 20 lived elsewhere
  • About 3/4 of our discussion participants had a mobile device use ban in place at their school
  • 100% of non-U.S. participants had a ban in place
  • Almost 2/3 of U.S. participants now allow students to use cell phones at designated times (i.e. passing periods and lunch)

THE CASE FOR BANS

Many educators worldwide still think mobile device bans are needed. Here are the most commonly cited reasons from our non-U.S. participants:

  • Potential misuse during academic examinations.
  • Cell phones perceived as “contraband,” akin to illegal substances or guns.
  • Cell phone bans seen as a means of maintaining school safety and security.

THE CASE AGAINST BANS

By contrast, many U.S. principals are now speaking out against mobile device bans. Commonly cited reasons were:

  • Too much work to police device use; the attitude commonly expressed is, “Kids are going to bring devices to school anyway, so why fight it?”
  • Storing students’ confiscated devices is a hassle.
  • Students need to be taught good online etiquette.
  • Mobile devices can be used in class for positive educational purposes.
  • It’s difficult to defend educators’ use of devices while banning their use among students.

IMPACTS OF THESE DIFFERENCES ON SCHOOLS

Several U.S.-based administrators argued that allowing devices in their schools has led to positive changes in school culture.

For example, one who spoke out against bans noted that his school had cut student use of devices during instructional times by allowing use during non-instructional times.

This story echoes that of other educators we’ve profiled. In our school fighting case study, for example, we told the story of a middle school that had a 92% year-over-year drop in students disciplined for fighting.

School leaders there found that removing their ban on student device use became an asset rather than a potential problem. With devices in hand, students could easily make anonymous text reports on fighting to their school’s CyberBully Hotline, and countless fights were prevented before they were even allowed to begin.

THE FUTURE OF DEVICES IN SCHOOLS

A few U.S. principals in our discussion contended that kids will find ways to use devices no matter what their school’s policy. They argued in favor of teaching students proper use of mobile devices instead of trying to ban them.

It may take a while for this kind of view to become commonplace, but we think it’s the way of the future. We’ve seen how having mobile devices in school has helped CyberBully Hotline clients address bullying, fighting, and more, and these kinds of benefits are simply too valuable to ignore. Moreover, with innovative learning applications being released every day, mobile devices are turning into important teaching tools in the classroom.

While many administrators view mobile devices as a potential liability, these kinds of risks can be mitigated with smart use policies, good supervision of students, and anonymous reporting programs like our CyberBully Hotline. When students know that know that bad behavior can be anonymously reported and punished at any time, they have strong incentives to use their mobile devices appropriately.

Click here to learn more about the CyberBully Hotline.

New Breed of Cyberbullying: Sexual Assault Blaming and Shaming

By Greg Howard

Sexual Assault Blaming and ShamingCases of cyberbullying that involve name calling, taunts, and insults have been well-documented. Character education efforts and anonymous reporting programs have been used to fight back against this type of bad behavior, and these efforts often generate positive results. Unfortunately, there seems to be an emerging breed of cyberbullying that is even more shocking and dangerous: the blaming and shaming of sexual assault victims.

Blaming and Shaming

Recent cases of sexual assault that have been documented and posted online represent a new form of cyberbullying that parents, school leaders, and the news media are just beginning to grapple with.

Of course, sexual assault itself is not a new problem. Statistics suggest that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported. The problem of “victim blaming” is not new, either. Victims of sexual assault, especially female victims, often are blamed by others after being raped for their supposed role in “bringing on” the abuse. Hurtful comments meant to shame and embarrass assault victims are also frequently seen.

However, instances of sexual assault that have resulted in the cyberbullying of victims are on the rise, and many of these cases involve teenagers.

Sexual Assault and Cyberbullying Cases

The recent cases of two teenagers who were cyberbullied after allegedly suffering sexual assaults by peers – California teenager Audrie Pott and Canadian teenager Rehtaeh Parsons – dramatically illustrate how devastating this form of cyberbullying can be.

The similarities between these cases are striking. Both young ladies attended a party, became intoxicated, and were allegedly raped while incapacitated. Pictures of the alleged assaults were then posted online and shared with the girls’ classmates. In the days that followed, both girls were subjected to insulting text messages, hurtful online comments, and/or solicitations for sex. Parsons was bullied over a period of 17 months before she finally decided to end her life. Pott took her life just 8 days after pictures of her alleged sexual assault went viral on the internet.

Implications for School Leaders

Just as bacteria become resistant to overused antibiotics, this new form of cyberbullying threatens to become resistant to traditional anti-bullying measures.

What can school leaders do to prevent this kind of bullying from happening in their schools?

Organizations such as the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn.org) and the National School Violence Resource Center (nsvrc.org) offer a host of resources on sexual violence prevention. We also appreciate the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory’s “Preventing and Countering School-Based Harassment” guide for K-12 educators (http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/124). Inspired by that guide, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Policy – Have a tough and detailed policy on sexual assault and cyberbullying. Build student buy-in by having students work together with administrators to create the policy. Ensure that all faculty members, parents, students understand this policy. Communicate the policy through classroom meetings, assemblies, letters home, etc.
  • Education – For a myriad of reasons, school leaders aren’t always comfortable speaking with students about sexuality. Unfortunately, silence can lead to wrong information and assumptions. School leaders need to work with parents to educate kids on acceptable and unacceptable forms of sexual behavior.
  • Complaints – Offer students and parents the ability to make formal complaints against anyone they feel is violating the school’s policy on sexual violence and cyberbullying.
  • Discipline – Students are immature and need to understand that bad behavior will result in punishment. School leaders need to define the various types of assault and inappropriate sexual behavior, outline the legal and educational consequences for this behavior, and, most importantly, enforce the rules when bad behavior occurs.
  • Victim Support – As the aforementioned cases illustrate, feelings of shame and embarrassment are a key factor in many suicides that take place after sexual assaults. These feelings often prevent victims from coming forward and seeking help. Schools should provide victims with every possible means to come forward, report issues, obtain counseling, etc.
  • Bystander Support – Fear can prevent those with knowledge of a sexual assault from coming forward to report the perpetrators. Schools should do everything they can to calm these fears and solicit student tips.

This new breed of cyberbullying is very unsettling. However, with the right education, support, and communication, school leaders can help prevent this kind of bullying from happening.

Anonymous reporting programs like the CyberBully Hotline can help victims of sexual assault and the bystanders who witness it come forward and report their concerns. Click here to learn more about the CyberBully Hotline.

Student Cell Phone Use Policies Changing

By Greg Howard – April 18, 2013

Student Cell Phone PoliciesWe recently produced a case study on how administrators in the Warren County R-III School District in Missouri used the CyberBully Hotline to reduce student fighting. In our interviews with Warren County administrators, we were interested to hear that district policy was recently changed to allow for in-school use of cell phones by students. The change in their cell phone use policy reflects a national trend that has implications for both education and school discipline.

Previously, Warren County restricted student cell phone use. At the end of the 2011-12 school year, however, the policy was changed to allow for student use of cell phones in school.

Administrators said that the change was driven by the realization that cell phones are a 21st century tool that could be used for educational purposes. When weighing the school cell phone ban pros and cons, Warren County leaders decided that the benefits of allowing phones in school outweighed the potential pitfalls a policy change might cause.

To be sure, Warren County’s new policy doesn’t allow for inappropriate use of cell phones by students. Today, Warren County students are allowed to use cell phones in class for educational activities, during passing periods in between classes, and during lunch. Otherwise, cell phones must be put away so students can properly focus on their coursework.

Warren County administrators say that students enjoy using their cell phones in school, and they are pleased with the results of the change in policy. Notably, administrators also cited the change in policy as one of the reasons why the CyberBully Hotline has helped them successfully address student fighting and horseplay.

As we noted in our school fighting case study, Warren County administrators successfully convinced students that the CyberBully Hotline is safe and anonymous. They pointed out that most students have cell phones today, and noted that since the change in policy allowed them to use their phones openly at designated times, it would be impossible for a student’s peers to know who they were texting.

The anonymity of the CyberBully Hotline and the presence of cell phones on campus give students the freedom to report their problems and concerns. Students let administrators know when they believe that classmates are on the verge of fighting. They alert school leaders when they see things that are suspicious or dangerous, such as weapons brought on campus. These kinds of reports may not have been made if students didn’t have the means to make reports anonymously.

As schools and districts reconsider the pros and cons of student cell phone bans, we urge them to look at the changes that Warren County has made. Thanks to their revised student cell phone use policy and the CyberBully Hotline, Warren County administrators have opened up a new channel for student feedback – feedback that is stopping school violence and bad behavior before it starts.

Click here to learn more about the CyberBully Hotline.

School Violence News: Student Reports Foil Secret Plot

By Greg Howard – April 8, 2013

School Violence ReportingA disturbing plot by two elementary school kids to murder a classmate was recently uncovered in Colville, Washington. The two accused boys, a 10-year-old fifth grader and an 11-year-old fifth grader, were apprehended in February and are set to stand trial in juvenile court this month.

Shockingly, the young boys had planned to rape and kill a young girl.  One of the boys reportedly said that he wanted to kill the girl because she was “rude” and because she “made fun of” the boy and his friends.

The boys had also composed a listing of six classmates that they wanted to harm or kill.

On the day of their planned attack on the girl, the boys brought a semi-automatic pistol with ammunition and a knife to school.

The violent plot was foiled thanks to tips from students at the school.

One fourth-grade student, who rides the same school bus as the accused boys, reportedly saw the knife on the bus and alerted a staff member at school about it.

Other students apparently overheard the boys talking about their plans and went to school officials with their concerns. One of the accused boys even promised to give $80 to another student if he would keep the plot a secret, according to news reports.

We here at the CyberBully Hotline applaud the students who made reports for their bravery.  Reporting a classmate can be a difficult or scary thing to do, but these students got over any discomfort they felt and stepped forward. Thanks to these students reaching out to school staff in a timely way, school leaders and law enforcement officials were able to stop the attack before anyone was hurt.

This story underlines the importance of having good relationships with students.  So much of what happens in the lives of students is invisible to school administrators. When students don’t feel they can come to school leaders with their problems and concerns, plots like this one are executed and people get hurt.

We would also suggest that this story highlights the need for an anonymous reporting program. Although students in this situation thankfully approached school administrators, there are some instances where students wouldn’t come forward. Students might not know who to talk to, or they might think that they could get in trouble themselves for reporting wrongdoing.  In fact, these exact reasons for not coming forward are often cited by survivors of school shootings.

We encourage everyone to learn more about anonymous reporting programs like the CyberBully Hotline.  Having the means for students to report what they see and hear anonymously can make a difference in every school and district.

Click here to receive more information on the CyberBully Hotline.

Effective Cyberbullying Prevention Strategies

Cyberbullying Prevention StrategiesCyberbullying is the modern form of bullying, where in-your-face taunts and threats are now done over the web. How can this bad behavior be prevented? A thoughtful article from two experts provides some helpful answers.

Before we discuss the article, however, let’s examine cyberbullying for a moment.  Often hard to escape and widespread in its impact, cyberbullying is one of the most mentally damaging problems that students face today. For many young people, their “world” is their social media presence and persona; when negative words, images, and messages are posted for all to see, the psychological damage can be severe and lasting.

With the continuous addition of new forms of social media, it’s getting harder and harder to prevent cyberbullying. Apps and sites such as InstaGram, SnapChat, ask.fm and Spillit give students a number of ways to launch anonymous attacks on their school mates. More than ever, we need new strategies to address and prevent cyberbullying in today’s hyperconnected world.

In their article Cyberbullying: Intervention and Prevention Strategies, authors Ted Feinberg and Nicole Robey offer five strategies for dealing with cyberbullying incidents:

  • Ignore or block the communications. Make a hard copy of the material the cyberbully has posted and send it to the cyberbully’s parents to solicit their help in ceasing this problematic behavior.
  • Tighten up security and preference settings to limit access to trusted sources.
  • File a complaint with the website, Internet service provider (ISP), or cell phone company.
  • Enlist help from the school psychologist, school counselor, principal, or school resource officer.
  • Contact the police if the cyberbullying includes threats of harm – cyberbullying is a crime in many states and the threat of prosecution is often the greatest resource.

In addition to the above steps, we recommend that schools fight fire with fire. An effective cyberbullying prevention strategy is to use anonymous reporting. Students usually know who’s doing what to whom; the problem is that they won’t come out and tell you. Adolescents, with their brains not fully developed, often can’t stop themselves from doing harmful things or bragging about what they have done. An anonymous bully reporting system like the CyberBully Hotline can be effectively used to stop anonymous cyberbullying.

Bystanders, witnesses and those who know who’s doing what are often fearful of coming forward face to face. But making an anonymous report is different and can often be a pathway to successful resolution. When investigating incidents of cyberbullying, appeal to the school community, the specific grade level, or group of students involved for information on the culprits.

Ask students to make an anonymous report to your CyberBully Hotline* with any information that could be used to stop the harassment. When the bad actors begin to realize that everyone around them has the means to report anonymously, bad behavior begins to cease.

*Annual subscription required. Click here to request a quote for your school.