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Posts Tagged ‘Cyberbullying’
June 16, 2016

Charleston Anniversary: We Mourn, We Act

One year ago, on June 17, 2015, a white supremacist murdered nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.   It’s terrible – and unfair – that the quiet space in time we should have had to reflect and properly mourn these murders targeting African-Americans has been literally blown apart by another tragedy – even larger in scale – involving the deliberate targeting of members of the LGBTQ community in Orlando this past weekend.

We can and must grieve for the victims of the heartless white supremacist who murdered nine people who had welcomed him into prayer,

communion, and fellowship.   We can and must mourn the victims in Orlando celebrating life during Pride Month and Latino Night.

And:  we can do more than stand in solidarity and mourn.

On this anniversary, after a weekend of bias-motivated mayhem, we should rededicate ourselves to ensuring that we, as a nation, are doing all we can to fight hate and extremism.

1)     Law enforcement authorities are now investigating what role – if any – radical interpretations of Islam played in inspiring the Orlando murderer to act — and that work is clearly justified.  But we must recognize and pay attention to extremism and hate coming from all sources – including white supremacists, like the murderer in Charleston.

2)     Charleston and Orlando are further evidence that firearms are more pop­u­lar than ever as the deadly weapons of choice for Amer­i­can extrem­ists. We must end limitations on federal research on gun violence – and make it more difficult to obtain firearms through increased waiting periods, safety restrictions, and limitations on purchases – especially of assault-style weapons.   None of these steps will certainly prevent the next gun-toting mass murderer – but, as President Obama said, “to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Photo Credit: Cal Sr via Flikr

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
Photo Credit: Cal Sr via Flikr

3)     We need more inclusive and extensive laws in place to combat violence motivated by hate and extremism.  On the state level, though 45 states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws, a handful of states – including South Carolina – do not (the others are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, and Wyoming).  ADL and a broad coalition of three dozen national organizations have formed #50 States Against Hate to improve the response to all hate crimes, with more effective laws, training, and policies.

And, though hate crime laws are very important, they are a blunt instrument – it’s much better to prevent these crimes in the first place.  Congress and the states should complement these laws with funding for inclusive anti-bias education, hate crime prevention, and bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment prevention training programs.

4)     And finally, let us resolve to more fiercely resist unnecessary and discriminatory laws, like North Carolina’s HB 2, that deprive individuals of the opportunity to live their lives in dignity, free from persecution because of their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

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May 3, 2016

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

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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