$100,000 Cyberbully Prevention & Response Grant Announced

By Paul Langhorst      July 17, 2012

The CyberBully Hotline team is pleased to announce the kick-off of a $100,000 bully prevention and response grant program designed to help low-income, high-poverty schools implement the CyberBully Hotline to provide students with improved means to report bullying.

We have heard from many schools and districts that are interested in implementing the CyberBully Hotline program, while the program costs just pennies per student per year, with tight budgets and finances many are looking for help in funding the program.

The CyberBully Hotline Grant Program is just one option to help with bully prevention and response funding. We encourage interested schools and districts to review the program and submit an application if you meet the main criteria – which is a High (31%-50%) or Very High (50%+) Free & Reduced Lunch federal classification. The application is posted online and can be found at http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/grant-application.html.

Here are some additional ideas for bully prevention and response funding:

  • Utilization of federal “safe schools” funding
  • Commercial sponsorship – CyberBully Hotline materials can be imprinted with the name or logo of a commercial sponsor. Most schools and districts have a relationship with local psychological agency to which they refer parents and students – ask them for a sponsorship.
  • Local law enforcement agencies – we have seen instances where the local police department may have funds earmarked for bully prevention and awareness – ask your local police chief to get involved.
  • PTA/PTO & Student Fundraiser:
    • Create a “Pennies for Prevention” campaign and ask students to bring in their lose change for a week or two and you will easily cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline.
    • Do Something About It” wristband campaign.  As part of your kick-off campaign hold a “bullying awareness day.”  You can order “Do Something About It.” wrist bands from the CyberBully Hotline. Add a small mark-up to the cost of the wristband to cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline. For information on ordering, contact AJ Morgan at amorgan@schoolreach.com.

Where there is a will there is way as the saying goes. The CyberBully Hotline team is ready to help your school or district find the funds to help implement our program.

 

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

Anonymous School Tip Lines – Fighting Fire with Fire

By: Paul Langhorst        March 26, 2012

The phenomenon of cyber bulling, or bullying through technology, has a new enemy – anonymous school tip lines, such as the SchoolReach CyberBully Hotline.

Bullying aided through the use of technology, such as harassing texts and hurtful social media postings, is one of the most rapidly growing forms of bullying and the least reported by students. The anonymity and distance created by the technology increases the ease with which students will verbally, emotionally and visually harass others. What one would never say face to face, is now all but common place on line.

Compounding the issue, victims of cyber bullying may be less likely to report such incidents. A main fear of victims is reverse punitive damage, where a victim may fear reporting that they are being cyber bullied because their parents may try to resolve the problem by shutting down the victim’s Facebook page or by restricting Internet use (Safe Schools Advocacy Council – Bully Prevention Conference 2012).

Now, students who are victims and bystanders to such cyber bullying activities now have a new way to seek help. Anonymous school tip lines are now becoming readily available and quite popular.  There are currently at least eight school tip line programs on the market and they can look very similar from the outset. However, there are many differences.  An anonymous school tip line should include the following key attributes:

  • Offer text and voice reporting of incidents
  • Deliver information directly to school officials, with notification completed via mobile and email delivery, as well as offer a central on line repository for managing and responding to student reports.
  • Provide complete anonymity of the reporting student
  • Provide for two-way text communication between reporter and school official
  • Offer 24 x 7 x 365 access to students
  • Offer access complete security and be FERPA compliant
  • Provide resource materials and other information to help make the launch and ongoing use of the program a success

If your school or district is looking to create a school climate in which bullying, harassment and intimidation are not supported, the inclusion of an anonymous tip line is now a must-have. The CyberBully Hotline from SchoolReach, scores and A+ on all the above features and functions.

To request a demo of they CyberBully Hotline, click here.

Reporting Cited as Biggest Problem with Bullying Prevention

By: Paul Langhorst

At the School Safety Advocacy Council’s 2012 National Conference on Bullying, “failure to report” was cited as one of the main problems facing school administrators in their fight against bullying. Attendees learned that students fail to report bullying for a variety of reasons, which mostly revolve around fear – fear of retaliation, loss of status/reputation, and loss of computer, phone and other privileges.

The CyberBully Hotline was created as a means to combat reporting fear. Schools should strive to create a climate in which students feel comfortable reporting face to face, but certain situations will be better served by an anonymous reporting system. In fact, many state laws now mandate some form of anonymous reporting.

The CyberBully Hotline is a text and web-based system that allows students to send text and voice messages from where they spend most of their time these days – from their mobile phones. Students are more comfortable texting than they are talking and the CyberBully Hotline leverages that comfort to increase the likelihood of more timely reporting. Students can text anonymous reports which are delivered immediately and simultaneously to a school official’s email and mobile device and to their CyberBully Hotline user account where messages can be viewed and archived.

A unique feature allows for an anonymous two-way dialog between sender and receiver completing a complete communication cycle.

The CyberBully Hotline is not just a number. It is a comprehensive bully prevention and reporting solution involving three core programs:

  • A local text & voice capable number that does not require the use of short codes
  • Eye-catching bully prevention reinforcement and awareness materials for display and hand out to students
  • A private online Resource Center where our clients can read best practices, informative articles from our dedicated Subject Matter Experts, and sign up for our free bully prevention professional development series.

The CyberBully Hotline is budget friendly and can qualify for school safety grants and there are corporate sponsorship opportunities as well.

The CyberBully Hotline can help your school or district prevent and reduce bullying. To learn more, click here.

 

 

 

The Bully Project – A New Bullying Resource

By: Paul Langhorst

The soon-to-be released movie, ‘The Bully Project’ directed by Lee Hirsch, and released by The Weinstein Company (of Academy Award winning ‘The Artist’ fame), is stirring national interest and debate. Students across the country are petitioning to have the R-rating changed to PG-13 so that they can see it as part of class discussions.

The movie follows the lives of several students who are bullied and tormented and focuses on the family of Tyler Long, a 17-year-old boy who hanged himself due to bullying and harassment. After only having having seen the The Bully Project trailers at this point, it is clear that this is a powerful movie. It should be seen by those impacted the most – the bullies, their victims and the bystanders.

Regardless of whether the rating is changed (which I think it should), the “silver lining” here is that any light that can be shed on the problem of bullying by raising awareness of the seriousness of the matter, whether caused by the movie itself or the fight over the rating, will be positive in the end.

Does CyberBullying Stop over Spring Break?

By: Paul Langhorst

Spring Break vacation – what a wonderful time of year for students of all ages. While the college kids may enjoy a wild time on beaches, high school and younger students may also be getting away on family trips. But, does that mean if they are involved in cyberbullying that it stops? No!

Unlike physical forms of bullying, cyberbullying knows no space or time limitations. If a kid has their mobile phone with them, they can play the role of bully, bullied or bystander. 24/7 access to social media sites means bullies can launch attacks from anywhere – including from the balcony of their beach condo. Online bystanders can watch or chime in to ignorant posts and their targets end up helplessly watching it happen.  And, when the victims return from Spring Break vacation, they get to enjoy a whole new painful world of ridicule and humiliation from what may have happened while school is out.

The online world in which kids live today is rife with turmoil and trouble. According to research studies their yet-to-fully-develop brains can not cope with the social consequences of their actions. They may be having a good day on the beach, but their online life could be a sea of trouble. Talk to your kids about what they are doing online, monitor their activities, set rules and guidelines for access, and have a open door policy. Many kids fear getting their phone and Internet privileges taken away from exposing what they are experiencing on line. Make sure they know that what is happening is not their fault and that you are there to help.

Enjoy Spring Break!

Do you have suggestions to share on how to talk to kids about their online life?

 

Steps Schools Can Take in Response to Cyberbullying

By: Paul Langhorst

School response to cyberbullying is impacted by student’s First-Amendment right and the fact that much of cyberbullying occurs not at school or during school hours, but after school and off campus. However, a recent article on BusinessRisk.com suggest some simple steps that school administration can take to respond appropriately to cyberbullying. The steps are:

  • Develop clear rules and policies to prohibit the use of school technologies to bully others.
  • Educate students and staff members about what types of behavior constitute cyber bullying and how the school district’s policies apply to them.
  • Provide adequate supervision and monitoring of student use of technology.
  • Establish systems for reporting cyber bullying or misuse of technology.
  • Establish effective responses to reports of cyber bullying.

In addition we recommend that you speak with your district or school attorney, and your state attorney general to get a clear understanding of where your authority starts and stops over the matter of cyberbullying.

What steps is your school or district taking to respond to cyberbullying?

When Push Comes to Shove Back – Book Review

By: Paul Langhorst

At the School Safety Advocacy Council’s National Conference on Bullying, I had the opportunity to meet author Janet M. Irvine and pick up her book “When Push Comes to Shove Back.”  It was a chance meeting that happened while I was exploring the exhibit hall. What caught my eye with this book?

First, I love to read. Second, as part of launch of our CyberBully Hotline program I was attending the Bullying Conference to learn as much as I could about bully prevention efforts and programs. So, it was no accident that I had an interest in Janet’s book which was a fictional account of a bully, a victim and a bunch of bystanders who banded together to thwart a ring of drug dealers infecting their school.

The two main characters, Jeremy Wilson – the bully, and Matt Carver – his daily victim, are accidentally thrust together following Jeremy being tricked into becoming an agent for the dealer, Tim Halliday. Fearing he has no way out of the drug circle, Jeremy relents and accepts Matt’s offer for help. Matt uses his fascination with military strategy to plan an elaborate ruse and trap for Tim and his agents.

The book is compelling and fast paced, with short chapters consisting of just a few pages, laid out for easy reading. With the exception of some fantastic cell phone eavesdropping software that is used to track and capture the drug dealers, (which, I am not even sure exists but probably does!) the book is more than believable.

I believe “When Push Comes to Shove Back” would  make a great read for middle school aged students as part of a class room project on bully prevention to drive home the point that people are not what they may seem, and that he/she who was once the bully or the victim, could easily have those tables turned.

Enjoy it. I did!

Paul