Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

April 14, 2011

A New Way to Cyberbully

I recently posted the following comment on the Community of Practice website for student support professionals in Jewish Day Schools:

In the latest edition of the Marshall Memo, an Education Week article about using Formspring to bully classmates was cited.  Formspring allows participants to survey each other, asking questions, ostensibly to get to know more about them.  Unfortunately, students have been using it to post false information, by creating alternate identities, or through anonymous posts. 

I address the issue of cyberbullying frequently, in the context of the bully prevention I am doing in Middle schools.  Yesterday I was again shocked and dismayed that a group of seventh graders denied the “permanence” of their internet and computer actions.  They argued that as long as you emptied your “trash bin” there could be no trace of your computer content or behavior.  These intelligent, honor students doubted that programs existed to recreate files, or that internet materials could be tracked and found even after being removed from a site.  It is so critical for educators and counselors to help students get past their adolescent invulnerabilty and accept the power, danger and permanence of their electronic presence.

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