Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Schools grapple with growth of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying grows; difficult to regulate 
For months, Korina Correa was pursued.
On YouTube and Facebook, via text message and instant message, her classmates called her vulgar names. They insulted her Hispanic origin. They told the Wallenpaupack Area Middle School eighth-grader that they would kill her, and then that she should kill herself.
"It just kept going," her mother, Frances Correa, said. "It was a horrible feeling. I couldn't sleep."
In May, convinced that her daughter's life was threatened, she called state police.
Cases like Korina's are becoming more frequent as bullying migrates to the Internet. Serious cases have ended in suicide. Disciplining students for actions outside school can be difficult. And the problem of Internet bullying is going to get worse, experts say.
"Cyberbullying didn't exist a decade ago," said Lynn Cromley, director of the Center for Safe Schools, an office within the state Department of Education charged with helping solve school violence. "Now it's growing exponentially."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 35 percent of teens have experienced some kind of "electronic aggression," threats, rumors or other bullying behavior expressed through cell phones or the Internet.
Kids become less inhibited when using technology, Ms. Cromley said. They use harsher words than they might in person, and the insults can become sexual - "things they would never say face-to-face to each other," she said.
As online bullying has grown, so have efforts to control it. Pennsylvania requires schools to have a policy on in-person and electronic bullying. The policy must list the consequences for bullying and designate a staff member to deal with complaints.
But if students are using their own computers and their own time to bully others, administrators' hands are often tied. Student speech, even bullying, must cause a significant disruption at school before administrators can act, a standard established in a 1969 court case that defined students' First Amendment rights.
"Our efforts really have to focus on the prevention of it, and there's not a lot we can do actively with respect to consequences," said Michael Mahon, Ph.D., the Abington Heights School District superintendent.
Abington Heights uses a bullying prevention curriculum in middle school and invites speakers to both the middle and high schools, he said. Students can report problems to a bullying hot line. The school also reminds students that the Internet is forever: Colleges and future employers could look at how they used Facebook and similar websites.
Still, he said several cases of bullying are severe enough to cross his desk each year.
"We make every effort to run down all complaints to the extent that we possibly can," Dr. Mahon said. "That is difficult when it's done face-to-face. There are huge numbers of issues when we get reports of it happening online."
Serious cases of online bullying are often beyond schools' ability to deal with, Ms. Cromley said. As in the Correas' case, police must intervene.
Since they reported Korina's case to the state police, the bullying has subsided somewhat, Ms. Correa said. But she is angry that Wallenpaupack Area Middle School could not do more.
"They should have stricter rules, stricter laws," she said. "They should take a step in my daughter's shoes and go through what she has been experiencing."
Dr. Mahon praises his district's prevention efforts. By and large, they work, he said. But he doesn't think the problem can ever be completely controlled.
"Every night in the Abington Heights School District, kids go home and they do their Facebook and their e-mails or their texting, and there is some bullying - either real or perceived - that is taking place," Dr. Mahon said.
Contact the writer: What parents can do about e-bullying
 Don't let your child on the computer alone in his or her room. Keep it in a common area.
 Create a Facebook profile and add your child as a friend, Lynn Cromley, director of the Center for Safe Schools, advises.
  Remember that your child might know more about technology than you. Some kids have one Facebook page for parents and another for friends. Make sure you're aware of all your child's online activities.
  Tell your children they should tell you right away if they're being bullied. Kids can be reluctant to say something, because it might mean admitting they are using technology in ways they shouldn't be, such as texting during class.

Nelson, Libby A. "Schools Grapple with Growth of Cyberbullying - News - The Times-Tribune." Scranton News, Sports, Obituaries, and Shopping | | The Times-Tribune. Times-Tribune, 14 June 2011. Web. 29 June 2011. .

How do you think cyber bullying should be handled in schools today? (post three complete sentences with your response)


  1. Cyberbullying must be handled in a school-wide approach. Administrators, teachers, students and parents all must be aware of the problems with cyberbullying and what to do. There should be clearly defined instructions on what is acceptable behavior online and whom you should contact in case of any issues.

  2. There should be school policy created that describes cyberbullying and the consequences.

    Programs should be developed to handle cyberbullying.

    Parent awareness programs should be implemented.

  3. Educating students about internet safety is key to reducing cyberbullying. We teach students how to handle a bully when it occurs in person, so we have to use the same techniques for the internet. Parents need to monitor their children's internet usage and their social networking and report any bullying behavior to school officials.

  4. We believe that cyber bullying should be handled by teachers, administrators, students, and parents in a strict manor. Cyber Bullying should have harsh consequences and students should have anonymous hotlines where they can report any instance of bullying. Schools should train teachers to teach all students how serious cyber bullying can be.