Cyberbullying…it is always personal

Many students have been affected by bullying, maybe even ourselves when we were in school as well. Bullying has been an issue for decades, and it makes you wonder why we can’t find a solution or ways to curb this behavior. Personally, I never really realized that I was bullied when I was in school until after I finished up eighth grade and moved on to a new school. Then it hit home when I heard and saw others bullied; I made it my mission to stand up for those that were and that has continued as a teacher.

When I was in school cyberbullying was not possible, but after witnessing the effects of it; I want to fight it as much if not more than traditional bullying. As Hinduja & Patchin (2015) state, “No one deserves to be mistreated. Ever”. Yet, many students join in to be a part of the bullying whether in person or online. More than twenty-five percent of eighth graders have admitted to bullying someone before (Siegle, 2010). It is these kind of stats that make me cringe, and yet we must ask ourselves, what can we do about this? Talking about bullying and cyberbullying is not enough anymore. Involving students in the spread of the information and asking for them to help the school become a positive and safe place to be should be a priority (Hinduja & Patchin, 2015).

While teachers are the first line of defense, it takes a whole community to continue to be aware and vigilant in the fight against bullying and cyberbullying. Since technology and devices are everywhere, cyberbullying can take place in many places and different forms. Siegle (2010) talks about the 8 different types of cyberbullying. While some can occur on or offline, many of these types rely on anonymity that can be created online.

While cyberbullying has become the go-to type of bullying with today’s technology, informing students should be just as easy using that same technology. Embedding information wherever students are on or offline will allow for students to think before they type something hurtful about a classmate. Cyberbullying plays a very large role in a student’s digital citizenship and how they treat others and their own information online. Creating a safe online community for students allows for so many avenues of learning and sharing in our growing digital world.

References

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Siegle, D.(2010). Cyberbullying and sexting: Technology abuses of the 21st century. Gifted Child Today, 32(2), 14-16, 65.

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