Friday, March 1, 2013

Cyber bullying

We spent the last two days dealing with a cyber bullying incident with our upper grade students using Instagram.  Yes Instagram is a fun social media site but it is suppose to be for ages 13 and up.  Our students did not have the judgement to use this site responsibly even though the parents of the students doing the online bullying knew their children had accounts.  Fortunately at least one of the children who was bullied shared the inappropriate comments immediately with a parent and accounts were shut down.  Unfortunately the hurt had already occurred and was the source of gossip, rumors, and accusations yesterday.  Our school uses Steps to Respect so today I taught the lesson available through the Committee for Children Downloads (at bottom of page) on social media and the AP and I coached all the parties involve.  We also spent lots of time meeting with parents.  We sent home a version of the letter and recommended (again) parents have a contract for use of the internet that details expectations.  We were lucky that one of the parents contacted the school right away once they had the sense it was more than the parents could work out among themselves.  Elementary schools have an obligation to their students to deal with bullying issues, and all incidents should be reported. Any child who is bullied needs to know that these incidents will be taken seriously: a) that their parents will receive the report and record the bullying; and b) that the school will do everything possible to make it a safe environment for students.The Stop Cyberbullying toolkit is available free to schools.

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