Many schools are now in the difficult position of having to enforce a mandated cyberbullying policy. Unfortunately, like most mandates schools were given very little guidance or resources from the state about how to tackle this very difficult task. When parents ask me about cyberbullying and the issues related to all levels of bullying, I tell them that in the old days before social media the bullies were typically very large, dominate natured individuals who felt empowered by bullying. Those bullies were often times dealt with by their peers before school officials ever knew there was a problem. But today, everybody can be a bully because they can hide behind a computer, Smartphone or Ipad and make statements they would never make face to face with the same individual. This aspect (cyberbullying) of Social Media has grown exponentially in recent years and undoubtedly most issues that occur at school have some connection to Social Media.
As a school district we educate students about cyberbullying, we collect information from bullied students and share that with parents and exact some sort of appropriate discipline related to the incident. But, at every step we as a district feel as if we could put ourselves in a steep and expensive legal battle as we continually bump up against privacy rights, while trying to stay within our jurisdiction. School administrators are in a difficult position because they see many examples in the media where schools have been sued because they took action against a student when they had no right or they failed to take action when action was required of them.
Add to this dilemma of uncertainty of when to act or not, a parent who does not support the school in it’s investigation of bullying. As such, we are asking for your help as parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and relatives of our students. Over the past few weeks we have been inundated with issues revolving around Cyberbullying and much of that occurs on apps such as Yik Yak, Snapchap, Ask.FM or the multitude of other social media sites that allow anonymity and promote cyberbullying. How can you help? Monitor your children’s activities on those apps, you may be surprised at what you find. Cyberbullying is occurring at every level and grade of this school district. Students are making statements that boarder on and go beyond illegal activity. If your child knows you are monitoring their activity they are less likely to make a statement that can get them in trouble and will be less likely involved in a cyberbullying case.
Technology is a wonderful educational tool and the PORTA District has invested a great deal of time and money to insure our students have access to technology and all it can offer our students. It is unfortunate, when severe incidents of cyberbullying place district officials in a position of limiting access to technology on school property or denying access to individuals because of their acts. We do not want to inhibit your child’s ability to learn in any fashion and you at home can help us by learning more about cyberbullying, popular apps and websites and knowing how your children might become involved in the future. We appreciate your help in this and while this Blog is just one way to reach out to parents please expect to see more cyberbullying information in weekly newsletters, local news media and on our website.
Thank you in advance for your help.
I have taken the liberty to link a few recent articles on Cyberbullying and apps such as Yik Yak. Please take the time to read them and understand how these apps are detrimental to your child’s education.