CyberBully Hotline Speaks at CharacterPlus Confernce

By Paul Langhorst                      June 28, 2012

The CyberBully Holtine team of Vikki Burton and Paul Langhorst exhibited and presented at the annual CHARACTERplus® conference held at the St. Charles, MO Convention Center this past week.

CHARACTERplus is a LEA (local education authority) and is a project of the Cooperating School District of MO (CSD) and is a fabulous bully prevention resource, working to advance the cause of character education and sustain its impact on the lives of educators and students by:

  • designing, promoting and facilitating processes and best practices;
  • serving educators and enhancing their commitment to character education;
  • actively recruiting and developing community support; and
  • continually evaluating the impact of our programs and services.

Started in 1988 by a concerned group of educators, parents and business leaders who decided that something had to be done about the deterioration of basic values, CHARACTERplus now reaches more than 600 schools in over 100 districts, 25,000 teachers and more than 300,000 students throughout Missouri and Illinois.

CHARACTERplus helps schools build consensus about what values or character traits to teach and which programs to use. Using the CHARACTERplus Process, each school develops a character education curriculum and program that meets its community’s unique needs.

The CyberBully Hotline was pleased to take part in this event and enjoyed the opportunity to network with CHARACTERplus users and show attendees.

 

Anti-Bullying Law to be Passed by New York State

Following on the heels of Monroe County, NY passing a bill to make cyber bullying in the County a crime, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York’s legislative leaders pledge to approve a state-wide cyber bullying bill.

Read how with this new bill, New York state is showing national leadership and taking significant steps to combat cyber bullying.  The new law set forth in Monroe County, NY and the pending state-wide legislation make it clear that bullying and cyberbullying is a crime and not a rite of passage.

All but one state have laws against bullying, with the majority (42) also including specific language on electronic harassment, but only 14 states have included provisions specific to “cyber bullying.” New York is a key state to now include such language as so many other states look to New York for precedence and guidance when creating new laws.

 

UK Facebook Ruling Helps Fight Against Cyberbullying

US courts may soon be looking to a recent UK ruling against Facebook in the fight against cyberbullying.  The men with the funny hair pieces may finally be on to something besides a fashion faux pas!

UK Facebook Ruling

Funny hair, but powerful ruling results from UK High Court against Facebook

In a recent UK High Court case, the Court ruled that Facebook had to divulge the IP address and subscriber information of individuals who were harassing Nicola Brookes, who brought the suit. According to a US attorney with whom I consulted on this matter, US courts often look to UK courts when forming rulings because they have the same law basis, providing there is no US legislation that conflicts. US courts frequently look outside the US especially in areas where there are few US-based cases that can be used as precedents, or where international experience with an issue is farther along than the US.

This is good news for US citizens who are being victimized by faceless and nameless thugs who use the anonymity of Facebook, and other social media sites to sling insults, falsehoods and to spread fear, pain and suffering to their victims.  Hopefully US courts will look to the UK for guidance in helping thwart the spread of cyberbullying.

 

Internet Safety Month – June 2012

By Paul Langhorst  June 6, 2012

D-Day Invastion Photo

Thank you to all those that have served and have given so much to our great Nation!

Today marks the 68th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944 when Allied troops landed at Normandy to start the European ground war in WWII.  Thank you to all those who gave their lives and have served in the armed forces that day, and since, to protect the US and democracy.

We are engaged in another war, a war that also must be won, which is the war against online harassment, crimes, cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, and other malicious acts against others by those who use the Internet to project harm, terror, pain and suffering in their victims.

June has been designated as Internet Safety Month by an Act of Congress. Unfortunately the Act is mere words on paper with no funding or other programs being generated as a result. However, such proclamations do have an affect, and over time can build into significant awareness efforts. This is just the second year that June has been designated Internet Safety Month so it is too early to tell. However, a quick search under the term “Internet Safety Month” will lead you to several companies and organizations that are building upon the proclamation.

The CyberBully Hotline is one such organization that is using Internet Safety Month to help draw attention to online safety issues and to provide parents and educators with simple tips and ideas on how to increase online safety.

Please check out our Internet Safety Month Tips here.

And, as announced yesterday, our own subject matter expert, Janet M. Irvine had a great article published on Tech & Learning Journal sharing 6-Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying.

Please check out these resources and feel free to suggest ideas for new areas of discussion!

 

 

 

Preventing Cyberbullying: 6-Steps from Janet Irvine

CyberBully Hotline subject matter expert and advisory council member, Janet M. Irvine has published an article, 6-Steps to Preventing CyberBullying, today on Tech & Learning online journal.

Janet’s career in education spans everything from teaching, to school administration, to counseling. Janet is also a published author and has written When Push Comes to Shove Back, a novel about a bully, his victim and bystanders banding together to fight a drug ring infecting their school.

In her latest article Janet reflects on years of K-12 teaching and counseling experience to offer 6 steps to help stop the spread of cyber bullying. Here is a summary of the 6-steps as presented in Tech & Learning today.

1.       Build it, and they will come. Build awareness through anti-bully days and assemblies where cyber bullying is the focus. Use screen savers to display warnings about cyber bullying – with messages of positive digital citizenship for potential bullies, potential victims, and potential bystanders. Link school computers to a short educational clip outlining the expectations for responsible Internet use and the risks and consequences of cyber bullying.

2.       An Ounce of Prevention. Teach students and adults – teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators — to LOOK at what is happening around them. It is important for schools to develop a culture of listening, observing, and offering empathy. Increase staff and student understanding of online privacy and ethical behavior, digital footprints, and not-so-anonymous virtual lives. Have students sign an anti-bullying/ cyber bullying pledge where students pledge not to bully others and to speak up if they know someone is being bullied – face-to-face or virtually. Be sure to engage parents in the process, communicate program details, encourage openness and share with them what signs to look for at home and how to talk with their children about the issue.

3.       Cyber Environment 101. See the urgent need to prevent online bullying and to support behavioral changes by assigning a high priority to curriculum integration and information resources. Through embedded curriculum and elective classes, advance the profile of responsible online behavior by offering classes that teach online strategies to thwart cyber bullying and useful options to prevent, respond to, and report cyber bullying. Consider offering a video production class where students create engaging videos for posting to YouTube complete with anti-bullying and anti-cyber bullying messages. Another idea: have students collaborate to develop video games incorporating anti-bullying messages.

4.       Practice Makes Perfect. Talking about something is one thing, but practice does make perfect. Consider practice situations that emphasize freedom of expression versus individual rights to safety, privacy, and protection from harm. Role-play the different players in cyber bullying – the bully, the victim, the bystander, the staff, the parent, the police. Brainstorm online scenarios that support positive online behavior and reporting online issues. Consider having the school or district’s IT department provide in-service workshops for teachers, counseling staff, and administrators for a better understanding of how the ever-changing cyber environment works.

5.       Maintain to Gain. Anti-bullying or cyber bullying principles need repetition and reinforcement. Use rewards and consequences that have direct impacts. Reward the internal values and strengths that promote positive online behavior and deal swiftly with clear, strong, and immediate consequences for a bully’s negative online behavior. Involve parents and the home environment. This is critical to both the motivation of positive online behavior and the prevention of negative online behavior. Consider sponsoring public forums dealing with home Internet use. Recognize that external events and individualized perceptions fuel internal forces – both positive and negative. Repeat your programs each year, and every semester until there are measurable results; then repeat them again. And remember:  social media can be your friend. Districts and schools with Facebook and Twitter accounts should regularly share information and resources with strong anti-bully and anti-cyber bullying messages.

6.       Do Something About It. The largest challenge to combating bullying is not recognizing that it is happening in the first place. At the National Convention on Bullying, Sean Burke, President of the School Safety Advocacy Council said, “The biggest problem with bully prevention is reporting.” And that goes for students and schools, alike. Consider adding an affordable, anonymous reporting service like the SchoolReach CyberBully Hotline. The service offers students an anonymous, two-way communication tool to report bullying and cyber bullying directly to school officials; those administrators can reply, also anonymously, to provide students the help they need to address the offensive bullying act as a victim or a bystander. For students who remain fearful of retaliation or who are not sure what to do or who to turn to, anonymous reporting services offer students a communication tool to report bullying and cyber bullying safely and immediately.