Discipline, Part 6: Cyberbullying

PASS Parents and Friends —

We are coming to the end of our series on discipline issues in the schools, but before we wrap up, PASS Board Member Jonathan Nateghi-Asli (who is a teacher in another division) has some advice on how to recognize and respond to cyberbullying. His comments are below.

PASS Community —

Another major issue that is causing discipline issues both in and out of our schools is cyberbullying. I think back to the very beginning of my career in 1995, the beginning of the dot com era. Our society began becoming cyber consumers and the age of cyberbullying began. I remember an incident with a group of girls who were suspected of stealing something on a field trip. We could not get to the bottom of who did it and of course it cause a lot of “drama” amongst the group. However, what ensued was my first experience of cyberbullying via AOL instant messenger. These young ladies were ruthless to each other and continued this issue outside of school. The problem was what was going on outside of the school was affecting them so much it was also being brought back into the school. In fact right into my own classroom as they all were in the same class.

Now advance 23 years later. According to data posted on teensafe.com from multiple sources here are some important facts about cyberbullying.

  • 87% percent of kids have witnessed cyberbullying
  • 34% acknowledge the have experienced cyberbullying
  • 15% surveyed admit to cyberbullying others
  • 24% report they do not know what to do if they are harassed online
  • 39% of children do not enable privacy settings on social media
  • One out of three kids feel they are more accepted on social media networks than in real life.

This year alone in my own classroom I have seen huge upticks of cyberbullying related issues. Some have been reported directly to me, others I find out second hand. Two I have had to report because the students didn’t feel they had anyone else they could tell including their parents.

How do we know something is going on with our kid? What do we do when we suspect it? There are many resources that help us answer these questions. What I am sharing comes from https://cyberbullying.org/resources/parents.

Warning Signs That A Child May Be A Target of Cyberbullying:

  • Unexpectedly stops using their device
  • Appears jumpy or nervous using their device
  • Appears uneasy about going to school or outside in general
  • Becomes withdrawn from friends and family
  • Seems depressed
  • Makes statements about suicide
  • Avoids discussions about what they are doing online
  • Frequently calls or texts from school requesting to go home ill
  • Becomes unusually secretive, especially when it comes to online activities

What To Do When Your Child Is Cyberbullied:

  • Make sure your child feels safe
  • Talk with and listen to your child
  • Collect evidence
  • Work with the school (if it is related)
  • Refrain from contacting the parents of the bully
  • Contact the content provider
  • Contact the police when physical threats are involved
  • If the bullying is based on race, sex, or disability, contact the Office of Civil Rights
  • If necessary, seek counseling
  • Implement measures to prevent it from reoccurring.

This website also has wonderful resources for parents when your child is the one cyberbullying. I would highly encourage you to take the time to look at these as well.

Unfortunately, in our society the issue of cyberbullying is not going to decrease without some serious discussions and interventions both at the local, state, and federal level. However, as parents, teachers, and ones who love children we are the first line of defense when this bullying occurs. We can make the difference and lead the charge to addressing this destructive behavior.

Jonathan Nateghi-Asli

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