Both National Cyber Security Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month were themes for October. These themes continue to draw attention to a growing problem leveraged by the use of the Internet and social networking sites. Cyberbullying is the sending or posting of harmful or cruel text or images using the Internet or other digital communication devices such as email; instant messaging (IM); text messages or digital images sent on mobile phones; social networking sites, webpages, blogs, or virtual worlds; chat rooms or discussion groups; and interactive game sites.
Cyberbullying can be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making the victim a perpetual target. The harassment can be anonymous, and a single message posted online or sent to a mobile phone can spread to a wide audience. Hurtful or embarrassing messages or images can remain online indefinitely to damage the person’s social life and friendships, and possibly their reputation.
More than half of American teens worry about safety on the Internet and know someone their age who has been targeted by hurtful electronic communications. Nearly a third of teens have been targets themselves.
Those recent survey results, released by the Chicago youth-market research firm TRU, hint at the scale of the problems being addressed more vigorously in the wake of the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi and other cases of cyberbullying.
When it comes to safety online, young people’s main “knowledge gap” relates to “setting ground rules of what’s acceptable behavior … and how that technology may be used against them … where they could be blackmailed or cyber-bullied,” says Richard Harrison, lead mentor for the Safe and Secure Online program, which enlists online security experts to volunteer in schools.
Traditional Search Learning Activity
Assign students to write a report of at least 150 words (or a PowerPoint presentation of at least seven slides) that cites at least three resources. Student should use SIRS Knowledge Source to find information on Cyberbullying. Students should address at least three of the following essential questions for critical thinking in their reports (you can substitute others):
- How can cyberbullying lead to suicide?
- Which students are most likely to suffer from cyberbullying and why?
- What are some successful strategies for coping with cyberbullying?
- What should schools do to help students prevent and cope with bullying?