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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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