Education Editorial: Cyberbullying

By: Bill Bosher - email

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. 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".

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