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Posts Tagged ‘Cyberbullying’
May 3, 2016 0

Labeling Behavior, Not People

language graphicWith 28% of stu­dents ages 12 – 18 years old cur­rently report­ing hav­ing been a tar­get of bul­ly­ing, con­cerns about bul­ly­ing in schools have moti­vated hun­dreds of books to be writ­ten and a wide vari­ety of pro­grams to be designed and imple­mented with the goal of turn­ing the tide of bul­ly­ing. Many of these books and pro­grams aim to change the behav­ior of “bul­lies.” And herein lies one of the prob­lems that makes it so chal­leng­ing to change the dynamic of bullying.

First, what is it? Bul­ly­ing is the repeated actions or threats of action directed toward a per­son by one or more peo­ple who have or are per­ceived to have more power or sta­tus than their tar­get in order to cause fear, dis­tress or harm.

When most peo­ple pic­ture a “bully” in their minds, they see some­one who is big­ger than every­one else and goes around intim­i­dat­ing oth­ers. Because of this per­cep­tion, if you ask a room full of stu­dents if they have ever been a “bully,” chances are no one will raise their hand. Ask the same stu­dents if they have ever excluded some­one, called some­one a name, spread rumors or picked on some­one because of the way they look, you will find that many hands – if not all – will go up.

This tells us that there is a dis­con­nect between being labeled a “bully” and actu­ally engag­ing in bul­ly­ing behav­ior. As long as that dis­con­nect exists and we con­tinue to use the label “bully,” we will not be able to engage stu­dents in real con­ver­sa­tions that chal­lenge the social norms around bul­ly­ing. By iden­ti­fy­ing bul­ly­ing as a behav­ior rather than a label assigned to a per­son who exhibits the behav­ior, a few things happen:

  1. Stu­dents are able to self-reflect on their actions with­out fear of judgment;
  2. Stu­dents are able to rec­og­nize that the dif­fer­ent behav­iors that peo­ple choose play an impor­tant role when instances of bias or bullying—whether active or pas­sive occur; and
  3. Stu­dents begin to make con­scious deci­sions to respond in par­tic­u­lar ways when inci­dents occur and ulti­mately, take respon­si­bil­ity for mak­ing sure every­one is treated with respect by becom­ing an ally.

We live in a soci­ety that often uses labels to stereo­type and sim­plify peo­ple. Unfor­tu­nately, bul­ly­ing is not a sim­ple con­cept and it is up to edu­ca­tors and fam­i­lies to engage the young peo­ple in their lives in bet­ter under­stand­ing that bul­ly­ing refers to a behav­ior and not a per­son, and that it is a behav­ior that all peo­ple at some time in their lives have engaged in.  Under­stand­ing this dif­fer­ence empow­ers and moti­vates young peo­ple to move from being a bystander to an ally.

 

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July 29, 2014 0

Embracing Technology, Challenging Cyberbullying

If you have been review­ing any num­ber of par­ent­ing or edu­ca­tion blogs lately, you’ll see head­lines pro­claim­ing the men­ace and dan­gers of tech­nol­ogy.  Tech­nol­ogy, and more specif­i­cally, social media and mobile apps are often treated like “mon­sters” to guard against and the cre­ators of all mat­ter of social ills.  Even if tech­nol­ogy is scary and daunt­ing to some adults, for youth it is a nec­es­sary and pos­i­tive part of life.  In addi­tion to using tech­nol­ogy for home­work and research, teens use tech­nol­ogy as a part of an active and com­plex social life. Of youth  12–18 years old, 78% have cell­phones and 74% are mobile inter­net users.

Family taking picture with mobile phone (iStock_000041774914)

That is not to say that there are not valid issues and con­cerns related to tech­nol­ogy. Dis­re­spect, bul­ly­ing and bias are all expe­ri­ences which still exist for youth, and tech­nol­ogy adds dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties for it to spread.  From our van­tage point,the real men­ace in our soci­ety is igno­rance and apa­thy, and adults can slay the metaphoric mon­ster with edu­ca­tion and empathy-building.

Being thought­ful, kind, using humor in good ways and devel­op­ing skills to be an effec­tive ally are all social­iz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and hold valu­able lessons for youth. Adults have the oppor­tu­nity to explore, learn along­side and guide youth to uti­lize tech­nol­ogy and social media sites in respect­ful and pos­i­tive ways, teach­ing youth to be an active part of cre­at­ing an inclu­sive online world as well as behav­ing in ways to keep them­selves safe.

Edu­cat­ing youth about online behav­ior is not just about “bully-proofing” them; it’s about doing your part so that your young per­son isn’t the aggres­sor or a bystander in acts of cyber cru­elty or cyber­bul­ly­ing.   Here are some ideas to cul­ti­vate online ally behav­ior for youth in your life:

  •  Adopt a pos­i­tive atti­tude about tech­nol­ogy and social media. The over­whelm­ing major­ity of youth are uti­liz­ing tech­nol­ogy in pos­i­tive ways. If you always speak neg­a­tively about this aspect of their life, you are dis­miss­ing an impor­tant aspect of their life.
  •  Show humil­ity if you are unsure about how some­thing works online. Ask ques­tions that broaden your under­stand­ing and don’t ver­bal­ize any judg­ments when you are learn­ing.  Con­sider appoint­ing or hir­ing a “youth guru” to fill you in on the lat­est and great­est apps and social media sites. Or stay con­nected with our Grown Folks Guide to Pop­u­lar Apps in Social Media.
  •  Ask more ques­tions, use lec­tures spar­ingly. For exam­ple: Why do you think some peo­ple think its ok to make jokes about someone’s race or reli­gion? What kind of place does the inter­net become if no one cares about  the words they choose?
  •  When you see biased online stereo­typ­ing, jokes, memes or videos online– dis­cuss them openly. Anti-bias edu­ca­tion with youth requires ongo­ing dis­cus­sion. You don’t have to have all of the answers, but one impor­tant les­son can be made clear: it’s not ok.
  • Reg­u­larly share exam­ples of youth stand­ing up and being allies. The mes­sage you send is “I love this behav­ior, and I want to see this from you.”
  • Teach youth that report­ing is not the same as “snitch­ing.” Many youth under­stand that hurt­ful com­ments and posts are the wrong thing to do, but many youth believe “snitch­ing” is worse. Help­ing youth to under­stand that report­ing hurt­ful com­ments, and espe­cially threat­en­ing com­ments, is an inte­gral part of cre­at­ing safe spaces online. ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide can help you nav­i­gate how to report con­cerns to ser­vice providers.

For more resources on how to pre­vent and inter­vene in bul­ly­ing and cyber­bul­ly­ing, inter­net guide­lines, and infor­ma­tion on cyber­bul­ly­ing warn­ing signs– visit our Fam­i­lies and Care­giver Resources List.

 

 

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August 20, 2013 0

ADL Coordinates Coalition Letter On Department Of Education Bullying Data Collection Proposal

On June 21, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DoE) announced a num­ber of revi­sions to its Civil Rights Data Col­lec­tion (CRDC) school sur­vey.  The CRDC is the largest, most impor­tant, and most com­pre­hen­sive data col­lec­tion instru­ment of its kind.  It requires schools and school dis­tricts to pro­vide data on a wide range of rel­e­vant edu­ca­tion issues.  The DoE pro­posed that CRDC add sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion to their exist­ing effort to col­lect data on bul­ly­ing and harass­ment on the basis of race, sex, and disability. civil-rights-data-collection-bullying

Accom­pa­ny­ing resources for the DoE announce­ment stated: 

Safe envi­ron­ments are crit­i­cal to learn­ing. Since the 2009, the CRDC has pro­vided a lens on school cli­mate and the bul­ly­ing and harass­ment that stu­dents too often endure on the basis of race, sex, and disability….

ADL coor­di­nated a let­ter from 49 national orga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing com­ments relat­ing to these pro­posed CRDC revi­sions.  In our com­ments, ADL and its coali­tion of edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civil rights and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions sup­ported DoE’s deci­sion to expand the CRDC to include reports of bul­ly­ing and harass­ment based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion, and encour­aged the col­lec­tion of data on inci­dents based on gen­der iden­tity. We argued that though the impact of bul­ly­ing has been well doc­u­mented, there is insuf­fi­cient data on the nature and mag­ni­tude of bul­ly­ing directed at indi­vid­u­als on the basis of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion – and even less on religion-based and gen­der identity-based bullying.  

ADL and its allies also urged the Depart­ment to recon­sider their pro­posal to elim­i­nate ques­tions relat­ing to whether a school has adopted writ­ten bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion poli­cies.  An essen­tial start­ing point for effec­tive response to bul­ly­ing and harass­ment in schools is the adop­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive, inclu­sive bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy.  The inclu­sion of ques­tions relat­ing to whether an edu­ca­tion unit has such a pol­icy, the coali­tion argued, ele­vates aware­ness of the value of these poli­cies and demon­strates that hav­ing such poli­cies is impor­tant and sig­nif­i­cant enough to high­light in the CRDC.  The coali­tion let­ter also urged the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion to ask the edu­ca­tion units that have adopted a bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy to pro­vide a link to their pol­icy as part of their CRDC response.

A top pri­or­ity for the Anti-Defamation League is work­ing to cre­ate safe, inclu­sive schools and com­mu­ni­ties and ensur­ing that all stu­dents have access to equal edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Over the past decade, the League has emerged as a prin­ci­pal national resource devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy tools to pre­vent prej­u­dice and big­otry. ADL has built on award-winning anti-bias edu­ca­tion and train­ing ini­tia­tives, includ­ing the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute, to craft inno­v­a­tive pro­gram­ming and advo­cacy to address bul­ly­ing and its per­ni­cious elec­tronic form known as cyber­bul­ly­ing.  ADL takes a holis­tic approach to address­ing bul­ly­ing and cyber­bul­ly­ing, track­ing the nature and mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem, devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams, and advo­cat­ing — at the state and fed­eral level — for poli­cies and pro­grams that can make a difference.

It will be incum­bent on ADL and our allies to work with schools and school dis­tricts to make sure schools and school dis­tricts are report­ing this data accu­rately – and using the data to improve the cli­mate for learn­ing for all students.

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