Growing Epidemic On The Net
by: Pat Hernandez, June 16, 2010 9:06:00 pm
Bullying on school campuses is magnified by email, cell phone calls, text messages and chat rooms. You may remember the story of Megan Meier. The Missouri teenager was so affected by comments sent to her online that she
committed suicide. The internet opens the world to millions with the click of a mouse. But there is a dark side that can do harm, much more than before the invention of the internet.
"I don't think it was that way when we were younger, because our parents knew everything we were doing."
Margie Myer is elementary principal at Fort Bend Baptist Academy. She attended the workshop sponsored by The Anti Defamation League called Trickery, Trolling and Threats: Understanding and Addressing Cyberbullying.
"I have seen children bully other children, talk about other children, and I want to find out how to deal with it. More importantly, in my position as an administrator is how to help parents to monitor it and deal with it."
Amanda Gorner with the ADL conducted the professional development workshop for educators. She says scaring kids about the internet is not the way to protect them.
"What works is real information, being honest with kids, educating them around the proper uses of technology, the improper use of technology and why, without the scary stories, because that really has been found to be counter productive. So, arming teachers, the administrators with the correct information, they can then go back and share that with the kids."
Michael Green teaches 10th grade English at Westbury High. He says cyberbullying was also a problem at his last school in Florida.
"It was definitely an issue at our school, and it was an issue at the school district, in the school district at Hillsboro County. It was definitely a statewide issue, because it was mandated by the state that we actually presented an awareness, an opportunity to make teachers, students and the community aware of this particular kind of bullying."
Austin state Representative Mark Strama is the author of legislation to help educators combat cyberbullying.
"One of the things we need to do is give administrators clear authority to protect children at school, by protecting what happens to them online. That, because what happens to them online, doesn't happen necessarily on school campus. The speech may not have emanated on the school campus, or have been received on the school campus, but it can have the effect of creating an environment where kids don't feel safe coming to school."
Strama says educators need to have the authority to manage that.