Average age by which first moblie phone received is 11.6 years old.

By Paul Langhorst                           July 10, 2012

Happy 11th birth day!  Here’s you new smartphone, now figure out how to use it properly with virtually no supervision or rules. Believe it or not, that is the “new normal” in parenting.

According to an article in OnlineMom.com referencing a study by Verizon and Parenting.com, the average age at which the first mobile phone is received is now 11.6 years old – and falling!  Shockingly, almost 1% of the kids surveyed received their first phone at less than 7 years of age! Almost 50% of the kids survey received their phone by age 12, which means there are kids far younger than 11 years-old being handed devices more powerful than the computers on the Space Shuttle and being expected to sort out how to use them in a complex social media driven world.

Consider these stats first phone stats:  (Age range when first phone received)

  • 6-7 years: .7%

    Mobile phone use by age study

    20% of kids survey received their mobile phone by age 10

  • 7-9 years:  9.9%
  • 10-12 years: 32%
  • 13-15 years: 39.7%
  • 16 + years: 10%

Not surprisingly the study also found that parents are not doing a very good job of communicating with their children on appropriate use of their new found technological wonder, concentrating mainly on when to use it and not on appropriate content and on internet safety precautions.

In an article I also posted today, titled Cyberbullying – Rampant on the Internet, I share that there are now 7.5 million users on Facebook under 13 years of age. As noted above, nearly 90% of kids who receive a mobile phone receive it by the age of 13-15, and a large percentage of those mobile devices are now web enabled.These two colliding statistics should be a huge cause for alarm in the education community as younger and younger children now have 24/7 access to social media and the internet with very little adult supervision. With immature brains, incapable of solid reasoning, logic or the ability often tell right from wrong and to see correct social meanings, kids are ill equipped to deal with this new reality – and its being gleefully allow by parents who increasing strive to provide their kids with the latest in mobile communications all under the banner of increasing their safety, when in fact eroding it.




Why add anonymous bullying reporting? One school’s story.

By Paul Langhorst                            July 6, 2012

Adding an anonymous bully reporting solution as part of an overall bullying prevention effort is a solid plan. Here is the story of one of our newest clients, and why they implemented the CyberBully Hotline – a texting-based anonymous reporting program:

Re: Case Study – Adding Anonymous Reporting

St. Christopher School East Hartford, CT

St. Christopher School implemented the CyberBully Hotline to help families report mean behavior before it becomes bullying.

The challenge of how to stop mean behavior before it becomes bullying is one that faces principals and teachers.  If we knew what was going on in places away from direct adult supervision that we could intervene quickly and solve the problem. Bullying does not happen when a teacher is standing next to a student.  It happens on the playground, in the cafeteria, while lining up, or in the restrooms, places away from the adult in charge.  We hear from students and parents that they thought the problem would go away, that they wanted their child to take care of what was happening to him or her, or the saddest statement…it would get worse if we told the principal about it.

The question becomes, how can the staff learn quickly enough about mean behavior to stop it before it becomes bullying? The ability to report anonymously helps to answer that question.  This is why St. Christopher School has chosen to implement the Bullying Reporting System through SchoolReach.  This reporting system will allow our families to let us know about mean behavior before it becomes bullying.  This system supports our mission of providing a safe educational environment so all children can learn and grow.

– Kathleen Madej, Principal  St. Christopher School, East Harford, CT


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.


Psychological Impact of Bully Reporting by Victims

By Paul Langhorst   May 22, 2012

Late last week I co-presented on a webinar with Dr. Nicole Yetter entitled Encouraging Bullying in the Online Age. (We will post a link to the archive of the webinar shortly.)

One thing I love about working in education is the opportunity to learn something new everyday and my experience on this webinar was no exception. As we have rolled out the CyberBully Hotline our information and promotional efforts have mainly focused on the benefits to the school that anonymous reporting can deliver when added to the overall bully prevention program. During the webinar Dr. Yetter presented brief, but powerful information on the positive, psychological impact on the victim or witness when they report on a bullying or harassment incident. Dr. Yetter summarized work by Dr. Peter Sheras and Sherill Tippins and their book: Your Child: Bully or Victim, Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyranny (Library Journal, 2002).

In summary, Dr. Yetter shared that:

  • Students, who voice their concerns and successfully intervene, build courage to do the right thing.
  • Children learn and feel satisfaction in knowing that they are saving others from future harm.
  • When a child does a good deed, it helps to build and strengthen their self- esteem.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop a sense of pride.

When implementing a bully prevention program, and specifically discussing with students the need to come forward and report on things that that are happening to them or that they see, educators should consider including discussion on the above points. It’s common sense that when a person shares their troubles or concerns with others, that it creates relief and an uplifting feeling. The fact that they are not the “only one to know what’s going on” is relief in itself.

The challenge for educators, administrators and counselors is to take action to resolve the situation. There is nothing more disheartening than to bare your soul to another and than have negative or no results as a consequence.  Research also indicates (Olweus) that students often don’t report bullying because they feel that nothing will get done. It is important that the trust a student shares when making a report, be returned with positive action and results.


Cyberbullying – How can schools cope?

By Paul Langhorst   May 15, 2012

Our business partner, SchoolWebmasters, has shared a great article in their monthly newsletter on how to cope with cyberbullying and how to encourage and respond to bullying reporting. There is some really great info in these tips, which you can read here.

SchoolWebmasters is a unique company that develops and manages websites for K-12 schools. Their high-touch solution puts them in direct contact with school administrators on a daily basis. Bonnie Leedy, CEO of SchoolWebmasters has shared that they hear from their clients on a daily basis about troubles with cyberbullying, which was the impetus behind offering the tips. “Because we are managing their websites, its common for us to hear laments and cries for help on how to best address cyberbullying,” commented Leedy. “Kids will say and do things online that they would never think of doing face to face, and our clients, as do most schools, really struggle with addressing the problem.

To help educate SchoolWebmaster clients on how to encourage bully reporting in the digital age, the CyberBully Hotline is offering a free webinar, which they or anyone can join by clicking here.




10 Things Teachers Can Do to Go from Average to AWESOME!

By Aric Bostick  – CyberBully Hotline Contributor

1. Walk Your Talk! – A teacher must be a role model. It is hard to teach students how to succeed in school and in life if you aren’t living the principles that you want to convey to your students.

During my first year of teaching, the principal revealed his complete lack of exemplary behavior. He would attempt to enforce the no-smoking policy within the school parking area while he drove around the parking lot in his truck smoking!

2. Be Honest with your students!  – As kids say, “Keep it real!” Youth respect those who are honest and “tell it like it is.” If students are  pessimistic, lazy, or indifferent during class activities, tell them the truth- to revitalize their attitude! Remember, the truth always prevails.

3. Keep kids moving!  Make your lesson student-centered, interactive, creative, and kinesthetic whenever possible to engage your students and achieve higher-level thinking. If you are doing all the teaching, you will also be doing the majority of the learning. Your students must be participants in the process, so fuel your lessons with student-driven responses. A good rule to judge your lessons: if you are bored, chances are your students are too!

4. Connect with your students! Effective teaching requires building meaningful student-teacher relationships. Get to know your individual students by asking them questions regarding their own dreams and aspirations, i.e. what do they want out of life? You can even inquire about everyday occurrences; what they did over the weekend or what type of foods/hobbies/interests they like. Youths become much more responsive and well behaved during class lessons and activities once they realize how much you care about them as individuals.

5. Greet Your Students. Stand at your door with a smile and give a high five or handshake to students as they walk in the door of your classroom. Do you ever wonder why restaurants have hosts, hotels have doormen, and department stores have greeters? It’s because we have a natural desire to feel wanted and welcomed. Establish an inviting presence within your classroom and you’ll see a change in the overall mood and attitude of your class.

6. Have High Expectations! Students respect the teachers that encourage them to reach their full potential. They may become vexed, critical, and even resentful of you at times, but they will eventually come to respect you. After accomplishing seemingly impossible goals, students will thank you for holding them to a higher standard and teaching them to do their best. Don’t be afraid not to pass students or get on their case to perform better. We learn from owning our actions and their consequences, not from free passes and reprieves.

7. Empathize With Your Students. Being a kid today is tough. Bullying, especially cyber-bullying, has become an epidemic in our classrooms. Due to the countless pressures and illusions of reality portrayed on television and in social media, students are more confused about life and reality than any other generation. In this rapid technological-driven age, many students may act entitled, self-absorbed, aloof, and distracted by their various hand-held devices and online social life. However, it is our job as their educators and role models to understand first where they are coming from, and then to persuade them to “turn-off” their gadgets, so they can reconnect with themselves and each other. Students need to overcome these social pressures and distractions in order to achieve success both inside and outside the classroom.

8. Compliment Your Students. Complimenting your students on even the smallest actions is the best way to motivate and instill a sense of confidence within them. However, you must recognize the skills and talents of each individual student in order to give meaningful approval. Encouragement is like water to flowers. They will blossom from your words of praise. Mark Twain once said he could live for two months on a good compliment. Unfortunately, the statistics on how many students attempt suicide each day is staggering. We can help more children avoid a tragic end through the comfort of our kind words, helping them realize they do have a life worth living.

9. Don’t Take Thyself Too Seriously. Practice this “11th commandment.” Relax and think to yourself, “This is just school by the way. This isn’t life and death. This is just math, science, history, physical education etc…” Simply put, being a teacher should be fun! You are the leader and the catalyst to make your subjects come alive. By keeping your job in perspective, you will achieve a more successful career.

10. Take care of you! You must make time for exercise, friends, family, and most importantly rest and relaxation!

About the author:

Aric Bostick is a former teacher and coach and is now one of the most sought-after education experts in the country. He has worked with over half a million students, teachers, and parents nationwide. To learn more about Aric and watch videos of him speaking and engaging his audiences go to: http://aricbostick.com