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)


Postcard to replace tornado sirens

Cedar Park's plan to replace sirens is a postcard

Updated: Friday, 27 May 2011, 5:33 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 26 May 2011, 8:20 PM CDT
CEDAR PARK (KXAN) - Cedar Park residents should expect to receive a postcard in the next month educating residents about how to stay safe during severe weather and tornados.
The postcard says:
* Have a plan
* Make a Kit
* Stay informed
Emergency management coordinator Jessica Jackson told council that every weekend in June they will have a "how to prepare for a disaster display" at Walmart.
More information can be found on the City's website .
Thursday night , the Cedar Park city council praised a public preparedness plan that replaces its soon-to-be removed early warning tornado sirens.
Currently the sirens are functional and don’t cost anything to activate. KXAN spoke with Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon Thursday evening. Lemon said the city would use the sirens until they’re removed, but he said the system is old technology and there are other ways to alert people.
Recent deadly tornados in the Midwest and Southeast did not change the mind of Cedar Park officials. Mayor Lemon said the sirens will eventually come down; he also feels that people seem to be confused by the sirens.
"We want to get so far beyond sirens. I don't think people understand what a siren is. I don't think it registers with people,” said Lemon.
City officials have not said how much its costing to produce and mail the postcards. They also have not said how many residents will receive them. City officials refused on camera interviews to answer those questions.

McHenry, Catenya. "Cedar-park's-plan-replaces-tornado-sirens |" Austin News, Weather, Sports, Traffic | KXAN, 27 May 2011. Web. 29 June 2011. 

Do you think Cedar Park should remove their tornado sirens?  Explain in at least three complete sentences why or why not.  


Pope’s Message to Priests: We Must Blog

Pope Benedict XVI has a message for priests of the Catholic Church: They must proclaim the gospel by not only having a website, but by blogging and utilizing new web communication tools.

The 265th Pope of the Catholic Church has been an unexpectedly strong proponent of social media. Last year, he launched a YouTube channel, and six months ago, he released Facebook and iPhone apps to spread the Church’s message. It looks like that he hopes Catholic priests will follow his digital example.
In his message, the Pope acknowledges that priests face new challenges due to cultural shifts that have brought the conversation online. Thus, priests must do more than just take the Word of the gospel to the web.
Here’s a small excerpt from the entire message from the Pope:
“The spread of multimedia communications and its rich ‘menu of options’ might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”
We have to give the Pope high marks for his push to make the Church more effective in the digital realm. While the Pope is not on Twitter, his Pope2you initiative is definitely a step in the right direction. He clearly knows that reaching young believers requires going to the places where they spend their time and converse. More and more, that is social media.
[via Yahoo News and The Next Web]

24, January. "Pope's Message to Priests: We Must Blog." Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 29 June 2011. 

The Pope is embracing technology to reach his masses, in what inventive ways can you use technology to reach your middle school audiences?  (Please answer in at least three complete sentences)