NHS students, parents get lessons on cyberbulliesTimes are changing. “I’ll be honest, we live in a different world than I grew up in,” said Steve High, principal of Northwestern High School.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Times are changing.
“I’ll be honest, we live in a different world than I grew up in,” said Steve High, principal of Northwestern High School.
When he was in school, bullies stalked the playground or interrupted the walk or ride home, ready to push or belittle their victims. Today, bullies can be found with the push of a button in cyberspace.
Kids aren’t the only culprits. Earlier this month, a college student who cheered for the Green Bay Packers was targeted by cyberbullies. A Chicago Bears Facebook fan page posted a picture of the cheerleader, Kaitlyn Collins, with a disparaging note, according to an Associated Press story from WLUK-TV. Belittling comments about Collins followed.
Such incidents may be fueled by the apparent anonymity of cyberspace. But the comments can still sting.
“If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, why would you say it online?” High asked.
An estimated one in five teens have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime, according to Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. He will bring his insight and information about the phenomenon to Northwestern High School on Monday. Patchin, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has been studying cyberbullying for 10 years. High caught one of his presentations last year at Superior High School.
“I think his message is for everybody,” the principal said, from the teens who find themselves picked on to their parents, grandparents and teachers.
Patchin, a University of Wisconsin-Superior alum, will give a presentation to students during the school day. From 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Northwestern High School auditorium, he offers his message to the community. Everyone is invited to attend the free event, which will include information, statistics, signs to look for and tips for staying connected.
“If your kid is in a room with their computer 10 hours a day, do you know what they’re doing?” High said.
NHS students themselves helped prompt the presentation. Cyberbullying was one of the areas they identified on a Safe and Supportive Schools Survey as being a problem either in school or online.
“What can we do to positively affect that?” High asked. His answer was to bring in Patchin.
During a 2011 interview with CBS News’ Larry Magid, Patchin outlined ways to deal with cyberbullying. Victims should keep a detailed record of the bullying and how they responded, and reach out to a peer or adult. The No. 1 thing an adult confronted with a bullying situation can do is listen, Patchin told Magid. If the teen is confiding in you, it’s a serious concern in their lives. If teachers or adults hear students calling each other names, humiliating one another or mis-using language like “gay” or “retard,” they should address it immediately.
More information is available at http://cyberbullying.us.