On February 23rd from 2 to 3PM, Education Week will provide a webinar on "cyberbullying."
News reports across the country are peppered with accounts of young people who have committed suicide or been injured as a result of bullying through technology.
STOPCYBERBULLYING.org defines the behavior as "tormenting, threatening, harassing, humiliating, or embarrassing another student through technology." The National Crime Prevention Council states that this usually occurs through: 1) spreading lies about a student, 2) tricking people into revealing personal information, 3) sending or forwarding a mean text message, and 4) posting a picture of someone without their permission.
When students were surveyed about the reasons for "cyberbullying," 81% said that young people thought that it was funny. It did not take a digital world to convince us that there is a difference in laughing with someone and laughing at them. When I was growing up, there was bullying… but it often resulted in pugilism… a fight. You could see and confront the one who was trying to threaten you. Now, the cowardly approach to intimidation is to hide behind a keyboard.
While this behavior usually happens away form school, it clearly impacts the classroom. It is difficult at best to perform well when you are afraid. When I reviewed the Legislative Information System for cyberbullying, I could not find a single bill in the 2012 General Assembly Session that addressed the issue. While I would typically advocate focusing on the behavior and not the medium, this is different…last year the Santa Cruz police department called it "bullying on steroids".