Readers: How to stop cyber bullying

Readers say bullies, not just the victims, need help.

In a recent story, titled “Obama pledges crackdown on cyber bullying,” we reported on new efforts by the Obama administration to help curb bullying and cyber bullying. But many readers say these efforts don’t go far enough—and to change hurtful behavior, it’s going to take more than school policy.

(Comments are edited for brevity.)

“I do believe the president means what he says about getting behind an initiative to curb bullying, but the fact remains that not enough is being done at the local level or within individual households,” writes F. Maisey.

“I have four children ranging in age from 27 to 11, and three of those four have been bullied. … We reported; complained; preached; shared info; called parents, teachers, and school officials; and no one seemed to know how to make it stop. Parents continue to promote the ideology of ‘not my child,’ while administrators are powerless against activities outside school.

“Luckily, my youngest is in the classroom of a friend of mine. This teacher is on the ball, and when I shared the info with her, she jumped on it, using no-tolerance activities, bully experts, and dedicating several aspects of the curriculum in the 5th [and] 6th grades to curbing and ending bullying.

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“I believe [in] the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ and if parents were more aware and not so shallow, perhaps children would behave better as well. In addition, I think school officials need to make anti-bullying a way of life within and around the school—not just blather on as if they are doing something when they very often are not. I wonder how in tune [the president] is with school policy and what rules and programs he can support to save those kids who don’t stand a chance. Many of the students who have killed themselves over bullying did not get help—they were too ashamed or scared to ask for it, and even when they did, no one did a collective right thing.”

Many readers said that bullying is an end result, and more steps have to be taken for prevention.

“We have a major flaw in the ‘solution,’ because it still only deals with bullying as the ‘end result,’ but does nothing to address the root cause of bullying in the first place,” explains C. Gregory. “And, as I’ve said repeatedly, cyber bullying isn’t any ‘special’ kind of bullying, per se. … It comes from the very same place other types of bullying comes from; yet, we don’t want to address that common core.” Join Gregory’s discussion here.

“Bullying is a very serious issue, and I agree with First Lady Michelle Obama that parents or concerned adults must be involved in the lives of their children,” says Seonlady47. “Children need guidance in their early years to build their self-esteem, and then they need to be taught that it is not OK to hurt someone else because they do not look, dress, or talk a certain way. Manners and consideration for another person have gone by the wayside.”

For more Safety & Security news:

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“We are still treating it as [if] the child being bullied is the one out of balance—the one who needs help, while the bullies just need a little reminder about their manners,” says ginarocks. “Chances are that the school bully has a parent who was a school bully and is currently a workplace bully, but who has just become more socially adept at it. How dare we, as adults, think that this is some new phenomenon of the Internet Age? Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have just replaced the cliques, phone calls, and note-passing of previous generations. People know that the socially acceptable thing to do is to feign empathy. Until people change their views on people who are different from them, the problem will remain, no matter how the government tries to suppress it. No amount of assertiveness or self-esteem workshops for the ‘victims’ will help, either.”

“C. Gregory makes a good point about being concerned about calling cyber bullying unique—but cyber bullying expert Patricia Agatston does discuss in her book that it is easier to bully when one is behind a computer, not face to face,” writes lcallister1. “Dr. Agatston talks about how we need to build a culture of good behaviors with each other, building empathy, and skills to make it unacceptable in our schools.”

“The real issue is the breakdown of what bullying is,” writes wallace. “It is a cry for help. It is, whether big or small, a viable cry for attention. Before I even attempt pointing a finger at anyone, I must mention the fact that it takes a village … you know the rest. We are all guilty of looking the other way and pretending not to notice. We do not know how to react, act upon, or better yet, prevent. We cannot from the outside make much of a change. It goes deeper, to the heart or conscience. We need family to become a stronger force. We need each other to survive.”

“The president’s candid description of the bullying he experienced can give people hope and encouragement that life achievement and dream fulfillment can still occur despite being bullied. But unfortunately, it also places an overemphasis on the actions of bullies and the response of the victims, rather than the larger solution of creating kindness, generosity, character, and respect in our schools for all students,” says reycarr. “What we need is greater emphasis on positive social skills; not just lip service as to the necessity, but curricula with experiential components, including service-based practicums where students can be peer helpers, peer leaders, peer tutors, peer mentors, and other roles to help develop the positive social skills.”

Helping to advance the conversation, many readers gave best-practice tips and advice on how to combat bullying, at least at the school level.

“I am an 8th grade teacher at a middle school in Nebraska, and our school has addressed bullying numerous times,” says L. Fricke. “We have a ‘Citizenship Boot Camp’ at the beginning of the year to address school rules, classroom conduct, bullying, and digital citizenship. Students meet in the auditorium for a welcome and general information for the first day. Then they go to assigned ‘Boot Camp’ rooms to discuss ‘above the line and below the line’ behaviors, social issues that affect students their age, grading systems and GPA, what is required for particular classes, and bullying. These classes rotate every thirty minutes, so all students receive the same sessions that first day. Throughout the year, all of these areas are reviewed in some way.

“Last week, our school lawyer gave a presentation about cyber bullying, bullying, and sexting. She gave [students] actual examples of what had happened in schools and the legal consequences students received because of some form of inappropriate communication on cell phones, Facebook, MySpace, and the internet. In order for behaviors to change, students need ‘training’ to learn how to behave and specific strategies to avoid caving in to peer pressure. It can’t be a one-time shot; it needs to be an ongoing process throughout the school year.

“Right now, I have a group of students who have written several short plays about bullying. We will discuss the messages in the plays, select parts, practice, and then go to the local radio station to record them with sound effects and music to be used as PSAs that will continue to air throughout the summer. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents need to be a part of the anti-bullying process in order for this process to be successful. Student involvement can be in the form of role playing, creating iMovies, PowerPoints, posters, and other means of communication that can be ‘visible’ in some way throughout the school year. Do we still have bullies in our school? Yes. However, the communication we have created throughout our school has definitely improved student behavior.”

“The federal Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights have sent out two informative directives to all school districts across the country in the past six months. These directives focused on Section 504/Equity Compliance and School Bullying. The problem of school bullying is ever changing, and with today’s technology it gets easier for a child to be bullied and harder for schools to regulate bullying activity,” says R. Stellmaker. “My company has worked hard to develop a tool ‘Equity²TM’ that helps schools manage all forms of bullying along with their bullying policies. This system also helps school manage and maintain compliance with Section 504/Equity Compliance. To view a demo of this system, please visit”

Web Wise Kids crime-prevention games teach youth digital citizenship in schools and after school programs,” says marjieg.  “‘It’s Your Call’ is our newest game for tweens and teens and effectively addresses cyber bullying and empowers youth to make wise and respectful choices in their digital lives and in society. 10 million youth, throughout the nation, have experienced our programs.”

For more Safety & Security news:

SAFE Center at eSN Online

Can GPS tracking devices help lower truancy rates?

Company claim: Emergency alerts get to students in 20 seconds

“The Center for Civic Education’s School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program has a great visual/critical thinking activity that gets students to draw the connection between bullying/bullying prevention and concepts like privacy, justice, authority and responsibility,” says marcofp. “Go to”

However, some readers pointed out that bullying prevention in schools could lead to negative consequences if not handled correctly.

“No parent supports cyber bullying, but with the record of zero tolerance I would not support our schools getting involved and have concerns with the local DA’s overzealous prosecutions toward children,” says F. Borakove. “If common sense were the norm, than I would be approaching this differently. For example, a recent YouTube posting of a student being bullied and physically hit multiple times followed by his defending himself resulted in the bullied victim being suspended for five days because of the zero tolerance policy in schools. If the schools cannot effectively defend the students, then … what right do they have to punish the children for defending themselves? It is the school administrators who ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

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