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Bullying Prevention

Cyberbullying: What parents need to know
Communication technology—it’s all around us. From laptops and Web sites, to camera phones and text messaging, children today are exposed to new communication tools on a daily basis. And while many of these devices provide students with a great opportunity for learning, growth, and social networking, they can also become vehicles for bullying and harassment when used inappropriately.

What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of any electronic communication or device—such as e-mail, mobile phones, pagers, text messages, instant messaging, Web sites, blogs (online journals), or digital photography—to intentionally and repeatedly harm, humiliate, or intimidate another person.

Cyberbullying is different from other types of bullying. The anonymity associated with the use of many technologies allows cyberbullies to target their victims without being face-to-face. They do not witness the humiliation their victims feel, and as such are often more vicious with their words than they would be in person.

In addition, tools such as the Web allow cyberbullies to reach a wide-spread audience with just the touch of a button or a click of the mouse.

Hidden behind a computer or phone, cyberbullies tend to look at their actions as free of consequence. This is far from true. Targets of cyberbullying may become withdrawn, anxious, depressed, or even aggressive. Students who are being threatened or harassed online often experience difficulty concentrating throughout the school day and learning is negatively impacted.

Keeping kids safe
With more and more pre-teens and teens using social networking Web sites, cyberbullying has become a major concern. Content posted in photo galleries and on blogs at these sites could be considered cyberbullying.

Guilderland employs the use of filtering software on all district computers to prevent students from accessing social networking sites. Yet, students can easily visit these sites on home computers with Internet access or from their smart phones. As a parent, you will want to be aware of these sites and of the content your child may be posting. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children often about the responsibilities that come with the power of the Internet and other technologies.

If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, save all evidence (print out e-mails, blogs, etc.) and file a complaint immediately with the Internet service provider, mobile phone company, or Web site. Cyberbullying is typically a violation of the “terms of usage.” If there is any indication that your child is being threatened, call your local law enforcement agency immediately.

In addition, parents can place their home computer in a public area, such as the living room or den to monitor usage more closely. Parents may also consider using filtering technology. Filtering software programs allow you to block certain Web sites, control incoming/outgoing e-mail messages, and set a limit for “online time.” 

 

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