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
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%
- 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
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.
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!
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
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.
Cell Phone Bans in School – Pros and Cons
By Paul Langhorst April 2, 2012
Student use of mobile phones during school hours is getting a fresh look and the results are surprising.
According to an article by Kevin Thomas, published in T.H.E Journal, 24% of K-12 schools ban cell phones completely, while 62% allow them on school grounds, but with use restrictions.
The data in this article comes from a April 2010 Pew Research study on students and mobile phone use, so these numbers are probably in need of update, but the underlying theme is the same – like it or not, cell phones are present on campus and are taken to school by students with parent approval.
As a parent, I encourage my high school junior to take her phone to school, but not to use it during classes. She drives to and from school daily, so having the phone handy is a big comfort. In one memorable instance I was taking her to school on a late start day due to snow and ice and was stuck in a horrible traffic jam. My daughter learned via a classmate’s “tweets” that the start was pushed back even further due to the massive traffic jams due to ice that day.
The pros of a student having a phone at school, can often be outweighed by the cons. Some pros include:
- Immediate access to parents in an emergency
- Independent class-room level access from the outside world during power failure, loss of phone system, emergencies, or lock down conditions.
- Access to information (via smartphone and internet)
- Additional security during before, after school hours
- Students can help spread necessary information to each other and parents/guardians
- Growing body of content and curriculum designed to integrate phone use
The cons include:
- Distractions of social media access
- Distractions from texting – some kids are addicted!
- Unwanted or premature dispersal of information to parents, i.e. texting parents about being on lockdown before all facts are known.
- Continuation of cyberbullying episodes during school hours
Cell phones are the soda shops of the 21st century. Just like kids in the 50’s hung out at soda shops after school, today they hang out on their phones – accessing social media sites, following each others tweets and staying connected with texting. Trying to take them away now, would be like turning back the social clock. Cell phones, smart phones and an increasing array of mobile devices are here to stay. Their use by kids will only grow, reaching down to younger and younger ages. One of our St. Louis area clients recently shared that “half of their third graders now carry cell phones,” which means 8-9 year old students!
Like it or not, cell phones are here to stay in school. The better solution is try to figure out how to control and integrate their use as opposed to banning them outright.
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.