Tag Archive for Olweus Bullying Prevention

Cyberbullying Link Dump

I’ve been reading a lot about cyberbullying in preparation for Tuesday night’s panel discussion. Here’s a quick link dump of a sampling of the better articles.

Colin Archer/AP Photo

* White House Ready to Rumble With Cyberbullies: President Obama takes a strong stance against cyberbullying at a White House Bullying Prevention summit.

It’s something that we care about not only as president and first lady, but also as parents,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s tough enough being a kid today, and our children deserve the chance to learn and grow without constantly being picked on, made fun of, or worse.”

But according to a new survey released Wednesday, the issue simply isn’t getting enough attention.

The report, released by the National Cyber Security Alliance in collaboration with Microsoft, claims that just 26 percent of K-12 teachers surveyed have taught kids how to handle cyberbullying, versus 15 percent who have spoken to students about hate speech online.

* Cyberbullying and Suicide: A summary from the Cyberbullying Research Center. As summarized by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D.:

One factor that has been linked to suicidal ideation is experience with bullying. That is, youth who are bullied, or who bully others, are at an elevated risk for suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides. The reality of these links has been strengthened through research showing how experience with peer harassment (most often as a target but also as a perpetrator) contributes to depression, decreased self-worth, hopelessness, and loneliness — all of which are precursors to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

* Five Things Parents Should Know About Cyberbullying: Harrison Pennybaker reports:

It is unclear exactly how prevalent cyberbullying is. However, some statistics suggest that anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of youth in the United States encounter the phenomenon, although this figure varies depending on age. Since cyberbullying can be done by computers, cell phones and other devices, and since these devices are widely owned, the means to cyberbully are easily accessible.

* Cyberbullying an Epidemic, writes Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson.

The Australian study of more than 1000 parents found that 87 per cent of children aged between four and 16 own or have access to a mobile phone and 66 per cent take their mobile phones to school at least some of the time.

Van Vugt said this access to technology needed to be better managed.

“All children have the capacity to behave badly, especially if they don’t understand the impact of their behaviour,” she added.

* Tips to Fight Against Cyberbullies by Kenneth Butler, who consulted with Nancy Willard (Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use), Parry Aftab, author of A Parent’s Guide to the Internet, and Anne Collier, executive director, NetFamilyNews.org.

For social networking and online etiquette, the popular saying “What goes around comes around” is as valuable as knowing when to use a frowning smiley or a winking one. When chatting, posting messages, or sending e-mails, it’s always a good idea for young web users to be “mindful of their digital footprint,” said Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use. In other words: “Don’t engage in unkind or hurtful actions online because the person you really hurt will be yourself.” That includes being the instigator of online spats as well as retaliating in them. Too much combative behavior could lead to a bad reputation online, and it could damage relationships with peers both in front of and away from the computer screen.

* Jostens Launches a “Pause Before You Post” program.

Before I make a post, I pledge to ask myself:
* Who will be able to see what I post?
* Will anyone be embarrassed or hurt by it?
* Am I proud of what I’m posting?
* How I would feel if someone posted it about me?

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* What are the warning signs? What can parents do? What can educators do? Here’s a great resource: StopBullying.Gov.

There are many warning signs that could indicate that someone is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied.  However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well.  If you are a parent or educator, learn more about talking to someone about bullying.

* A Yorktown mother, Taryn Grimes-Herbert, provides a list of bully-proofing ideas that “really worked” for her family.

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to many educators, parents and kids who’ve had to learn this very difficult lesson: We cannot change the behavior of others. We can only choose how to respond to it, and how we respond to it reveals our character.

* Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli promotes new software which allows parents to monitor their children’s online activity.

“Call it whatever you want,” Batelli said in an interview in his office at police headquarters on Franklin Turnpike on Tuesday, March 1. “If it’s going to save my daughter or someone else’s daughter, then call it whatever you want.”

* More parents are getting involved in their kids’ online activity — by helping them lie about their age. (“Where Age Is What You Say It Is,” from The New York Times, by Matt Richtel and Miguel Helft.)

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

* States look to pass bills that make cyberbullying a crime.

State senator Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) is now pushing SB214.

“It was the news of so many children committing suicide who had been bullied via the internet so as a former educator it resonated with me that we’ve got to do something,” Chesterfield says.

The one page legislation would establish the crime of “cyber bullying” in Arkansas.

“This is an acknowledgement that in this day and time with technology the way it is, that people are able to use other means and sometimes hide their hands when they throw the rocks,” Chesterfield says.

The bill says someone commits cyber-bullying if they electronically communicate with someone with the purpose of harrassing or intimidating, whether by cell phone or on-line.

* Another great resource: The Cyberbullying Research Center.

From the home page:

If you only have time to read one of our documents to get up-to-speed about the problem and what you can do, read this one!

Cyberbullying: Identification, Prevention, and Response.

* Olweus Bullying Prevention program adds new focus on character.

Now two Pennsylvania districts — Mt. Lebanon and Penn Hills — are piloting an enhancement to the program that includes a character education component aimed at turning students into good citizens and empathetic colleagues who will be less likely to engage in bullying behavior.

* Lastly, more and more schools are featuring this well-reviewed book for a “One Book, One School” program.

Fan Mail Wednesday #84 (Bully Edition)

Usually, I use this recurring feature to respond to letters from young readers. But at the risk of  self-aggrandizement, I thought I’d share this topical letter I received last week:


I just finished reading your newest book last week. As a middle school library media specialist I now feel that everyone in the school should read this book. I think it is an amazing account of what happens here at school everyday. We are all aware of it and trying our best to change it but things don’t happen overnight.

We have been talking about changing the way that we run our summer reading program here at the middle school and have been trying to find an “all school read.” I know that this is the book I would choose. I had a few questions that I thought I might ask. When is this book due out in paperback? Do you have a date or is that something that your publisher decides? If we are trying to fund this program it would be better to know how much to ask for from our donors.

Also, I read your blog about school visits, which I agree with completely. We are trying to get the local police and sheriff’s office involved with this reading program and have assemblies before the end of the school year. I do think that it is great for students to sometimes actually meet the author of the books that they have read and enjoyed. We are planning many events around the book and trying to get the community involved. Would you be interested in all in visiting in the fall of this year once school starts?

We know the issues of bullying are everywhere but we feel that it is important to make it a priority here in our community. We feel that if we have all the students read your book, discuss it and have their parents, friends and family involved then we can try to make some changes.

Please let me know what you think, and THANK YOU for such an amazing book.


Library Media Specialist

I replied:

Dear Ann,

Believe me, there is no pleasure in having written a topical book such as Bystander. I wish these things weren’t so often in the news or in the lives of our children. But if these heartbreaking recent events are what it takes for people to get focused and motivated, then at least something positive may come from it.

In my readings and conversations with educators and experts, I came away convinced that any “solutions” — in quotes — will require the concentrated, enlightened efforts of many people in our schools. Educators, parents, students all pulling on the same oar.

One resource I came back to, again and again, was the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. I don’t have enough experience to fully weigh one bully-prevention program against another. There are many options available; I can’t say what’s best. I’d guess that each community has its own needs and resources. That said; I was very impressed with everything I read about that program, a view that was shared by many of the educators I interviewed.

I’d also like to plug a great book:

Written by Barbara Coloroso, this book was an invaluable resource that helped guide and enlighten my thinking.

In answer to Ann’s questions: The latest word is that Bystander will be released in paperback in Fall, 2011. I’m told that there will be a Teaching Guide available. Yes, I do school visits. Since I live in the Albany, New York, area, any trips that require serious travel (read: an overnight stay) necessitates more than one day’s worth of visits for such a trip to be possible. What works best is when different schools in a district cooperate and provide 2-4 different full-day school visits. Otherwise, it’s just impossible for me to justify a one-day jaunt to some far-flung locale.

Thanks, Ann, for your incredibly kind letter. It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. Again, it takes a village.

You know, there was a point in an early draft of the book when I compared a bully to a terrorist. I pulled that out, fearing it might be a little over-cooked, but I do still think it’s an apt analogy. I believe that bullying, like other forms of terrorism, can never be fully eradicated. These social dynamics will always go on — but that is no excuse for failing to confront them whenever and wherever they occur. What we need is vigilance, increased awareness, and widespread, dedicated cooperation from a variety of sources to help limit the very real dangers. It’s like any criminal behavior: we must police it. Bullying is not a problem that can be completely “solved” or eliminated. But I do believe we can make real, tangible progress — and one by one, from place to place, positively effect change in the lives of countless young people.

That said, my book is a novel, a story, not a recipe for success. My hope has always been that it would be, in addition to a good reading experience, a strong jumping off point for discussion in the classroom. There’s enough clues in there, from the enlightened responses of some teachers in the book, to the mother’s concern and commitment, to the subtle changes in individual characters, to suggest some of the possible responses that are, I think, necessary if we hope to turn things around.

I was recently interviewed on this topic at boylit.com. Click here if you’re not sick of me already.

My best to you.