Fun with Radio Disney and No More Bullying Project

By Paul Langhorst                 July 12, 2012

I just completed an interview at Radio Disney where Emily Zimmerman, Director of Marketing for St. Louis Mills Mall, and I discussed our joint participation in the No More Bullying event being held at the St. Louis Mills. What a blast!  Emily Brown, on air personality for Radio Disney – St. Louis was great.  In fact, we dubbed the event the “Emilie’s and Paul Show” because everyone in the studio was named Emily or Paul!

SchoolReach and our CyberBully Hotline program are co-sponsoring the No More Bullying event along with the Missouri Center for Education Safety, an organization with which SchoolReach has had a long standing relationship. I am very excited to be working with Paul Fennewald, Director of MO CES, on this project. He and Mo CES are committed to making Missouri schools a safer place for our students and its just great that they are involved.

This session marked the first time I met Emily Zimmerman face-to-face and had a chance to hear in her own words why she started the No More Bullying event.  It is clear that she is passionate about her company and its role in the St. Louis area. Here is what she had to say in her own words: .  “The St. Louis Mills is a destination for so many

No More Bully Interview by Paul Langhorst and Emily Zimmerman

Emily Zimmerman and Paul Langhorst following interview at Radio Disney Studios

parents and kids,” said Zimmerman.  It’s a heavy topic, but we are a part of this community and I felt that we had the perfect environment to hold an event to draw attention to the growing problem of bullying and cyberbullying and to provide information on ways parents and kids can make a difference.”

We had a blast doing the interview and it was amazing to watch Emily Brown work. She was so comfortable behind the mic and with just a few notes conducted a 30-minute interview that just flew by.  Disney is all about fun and family and it is so wonderful to see them involved in the No More Bullying event. I think it fits with their mission, and by bringing the Radio Disney Road Crew to the event, Disney will help more kids and parents get exposed to the important information and messages delivered by Tina Meier, of the Megan Meier Foundation, and the Alex Boyles of the Unwritten Letters Project.

We at SchoolReach and the CyberBully Hotline are very pleased to be involved in the No More Bullying event!

 

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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