Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org Resources and strategies to help combat bullying and cyberbullying. Fri, 18 Oct 2019 10:55:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 Sticks and Stones Sixty Years Later: A Disabled Woman’s Advice for Adults and Teens on Dealing with Bullying and Cyberbullying https://cyberbullying.org/sticks-and-stones-sixty-years-later https://cyberbullying.org/sticks-and-stones-sixty-years-later#respond Wed, 09 Oct 2019 13:44:59 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=25595 Note: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. All this month we are highlighting resources to help youth—and those who care for them—deal with bullying (online and off). One particularly vulnerable population is youth with disabilities. Those who bully often target those who are perceived to be different than them, and living with a disability is…

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Note: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. All this month we are highlighting resources to help youth—and those who care for them—deal with bullying (online and off). One particularly vulnerable population is youth with disabilities. Those who bully often target those who are perceived to be different than them, and living with a disability is often a very visible marker of difference. What follows is an invited guest post from Dr. Katherine Schneider. I have known Kathie for many years. She retired from my university but is still very active in the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) community. She is a champion for the rights of the disabled, and works tirelessly to make their lives easier. We got to talking one day about my work, and agreed that more could be done to address bullying among those who live with disabilities.
–Justin Patchin

By Katherine Schneider, Ph.D.

I was born blind and grew up in public schools. Hurtful teasing, bullying, and shunning were regular parts of my growing up, and as a result, so was a very low self-concept. I hated being blind. All I knew to do when confronted by bullying was to respond with the old saw about “sticks and stones will break my bones” and tell the bully to “shut up.” Sometimes this worked, but usually not.

Thankfully some things have changed since my adolescence. There are laws like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Both serve to prohibit discrimination at schools (or other public entities) based on disability. There are online resources for parents, professionals, and teens like the Pacer Center’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Parent support groups for parents of children with disabilities and social support/skill building groups for teens with disabilities exist.

Another change is the playground got larger! The online world adds wonderful access to resources and communities, but also new places to be bullied. No longer is the home a respite from bullying.

Some things have not changed. A disability does make its owner more vulnerable because whether it’s physical, cognitive, or emotional, the person has some limitations that a nondisabled person does not have. Those who bully look for differences and weaknesses when choosing a target. Parents, teachers, paraprofessional aides, and therapists need to talk honestly with children who have disabilities about acknowledging limitations, learning social skills, and accentuating the child’s strengths. If the child can’t outrun the bully, for example, perhaps they can use their verbal powers to diffuse the situation (such as with humor), say a loud and clear “stop,” or surround themselves with friends who can deflect the bully’s attention.

Denial at some level still exists about acknowledging what a problem bullying is for people with disabilities. When I was working on my children’s book Your Treasure Hunt: Disabilities and Finding Your Gold, several editors suggested I remove the page about what to do when bullied, because “that doesn’t happen anymore.” Parents fear to ask their child if they’re bullied partly because they know they will be furious if the answer is yes. All that good advice about staying calm and not swooping right in to solve the problem goes right out the window when it’s your child, especially your child who has a disability. The instinct to protect is always there and we want to make their unpleasant experiences go away.

Denial at some level still exists about acknowledging what a problem bullying is for people with disabilities.

We want to solve their problems. But in some cases that isn’t the best response. Listening and giving verbal first aid “That is wrong,” “I’m sorry that happened,” or “I’ll help if you’d like” is the way to go. Help the child brainstorm about what needs to be different next time and role-play techniques to use. Modeling compassionate but firm problem-solving teaches more than lecturing, ranting, or stomping off to confront the parent of the mean kid. Coach the child to ask for the assistance they want. You are teaching skills that will last a lifetime.

We also need to remember that bullying of the disabled (and bullying in general) does not end on graduation day. I recently had two encounters with an adult female bully who I needed to work with on a project. Bystanders were as shocked at her behavior–as I was–and did nothing. The first time I froze, but by the second time I had a caustic verbal retort ready. The bullying has not recurred since then.

Listening and giving verbal first aid “That is wrong,” “I’m sorry that happened,” or “I’ll help if you’d like” is the way to go.

As I was preparing this post, I came upon a book by Melody Beattie, Playing It by Heart, about how to not fall back into being a victim that I plan to read. Memoirs like Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures, and Mark Zupan’s Gimp help teens know it will get better. Books for children and teens are available in alternate formats from www.bookshare.org so that those who don’t read regular print can know they’re not alone and learn ways to deal with the bullying. For me, reading and writing is therapeutic in that I can be in—and help create—a world where there is less bullying and more kindness and empathy. Together we can make a better world, within the pages and beyond.

Dr. Katherine Schneider is a retired clinical psychologist living in Wisconsin with her ninth Seeing Eye dog, Luna. Dr. Schneider has published a memoir To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities and a children’s book Your Treasure Hunt: Disabilities and Finding Your Gold.You can learn more about her work at http://kathiecomments.wordpress.com.

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RESTRICTing Bullying on Instagram https://cyberbullying.org/restricting-bullying-on-instagram https://cyberbullying.org/restricting-bullying-on-instagram#respond Wed, 02 Oct 2019 20:59:34 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=25499 Last summer the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, announced that the platform would be taking more of a leadership role when it comes to tackling online bullying. With over a billion active users, they are well positioned to make an impact. In a message to users, he discussed some ways Instagram has been using technology…

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Last summer the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, announced that the platform would be taking more of a leadership role when it comes to tackling online bullying. With over a billion active users, they are well positioned to make an impact.

In a message to users, he discussed some ways Instagram has been using technology to minimize hurtful behavior. Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms can identify potentially problematic comments, for instance, and cue the poster to possibly reconsider before clicking “post.” It is hard to know how effective this prodding is, and whether users actually refrained from posting once they were cautioned about the questionable nature of their post, but the idea is nice (first introduced by Trisha Prabhu five years ago). Instagram is continuing to refine its AI capabilities to detect problematic and harassing content in real time, but it isn’t easy to work through all of the issues related to the context of communications and the nuances of human expression. As I’ve written about previously on this blog, it is often difficult to distinguish between hurtful bullying and friendly banter when it comes to third-parties observing online (or offline) behavior.

Mosseri also announced a new feature that officially launched this week, called Restrict, that gives users an additional tool to deal with those who might want to be mean. Restrict allows users to, well, restrict who can see comments posted to images. Just swipe left on a specific comment and you will be given options to report the comment or restrict the user. If, for example, Sameer posts a mean comment to my most recent photograph, I can Restrict him, which would make the comment visible to just him and I. None of his or my friends will see that he commented. Even he doesn’t know that he has been “restricted” (in terms of his visibility to others). From his vantage point, nothing has changed in our online relationship. I can elect to approve his comment, in which case others will be able to see it. But I don’t have to. Also, if I restrict Sameer, his direct messages to me will be automatically sent to a spam folder (the “Message Request Inbox”). I can read them, but don’t have to. Here again, he would have no idea if they are read or not. He also wouldn’t be able to see when I am active on Instagram.

Most online platforms already allow users to block others. I find this feature quite useful on Twitter when individuals tweet or reply to me in a way that is unproductive or even hurtful. Going back to my example with Sameer, if I were to block him, he wouldn’t be able to access my profile (let alone comment on it). At least not from the account that was blocked. He would know I blocked him because he wouldn’t see my profile. Moreover, I would not be able to see what he posted on his own profile or on other friend’s profiles (which could be about me). “Blocking” completely separates us online, whereas “restricting” allows the online relationship to persist, with some controls on what is seen, and by whom.

Another reason those who are being targeted don’t like to block those who bully them is because they don’t want to deal with any drama or fallout that might come when they encounter that person at school. With Restrict, the aggressor doesn’t know they have been restricted, though the lack of response to comments or messages might aggravate or annoy the aggressor, perhaps leading to some backlash in some other way (e.g., at school).

Finally, relationship situations often change over time (particularly in adolescence). Sometimes we just need a break from someone. Given that reality, Instagram allows users to easily unrestrict others very easily. It isn’t as blunt a tool as blocking or reporting can be. I might still like Sameer but just don’t appreciate how he is treating me in this moment. Restricting him temporarily can help me through this difficult phase in our relationship, without further aggravating it.

Of course as a researcher, I would LOVE to study this new feature. As it becomes more well known, we will certainly ask youth if they have heard of this and if they have used it. But ultimately the question is: does it work? Is bullying really thwarted with such a simple tool? I am in favor of anything that puts more control in the hands of the user, but I still wonder if something as complicated as bullying can be so easily stopped. And since we know that most online bullying is related to offline relationships, I worry that something like this might lead to offline problems, at least in the short term.

Have you used the Restrict feature? Has it worked for you? Did you encounter any unintended consequences?

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The Nature and Extent of Sexting Among Middle and High School Students https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-research-2016 https://cyberbullying.org/sexting-research-2016#respond Mon, 30 Sep 2019 18:57:31 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=25440 By Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja Sexting is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images or video, usually via mobile devices. Despite widespread public concern about these behaviors as they occur among adolescents, including potentially serious legal consequences, relatively little research has been done to estimate the frequency of sexting…

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By Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja

Sexting is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images or video, usually via mobile devices. Despite widespread public concern about these behaviors as they occur among adolescents, including potentially serious legal consequences, relatively little research has been done to estimate the frequency of sexting among middle and high school students. The current study contributes to this scant body of knowledge by reporting prevalence rates for sending and receiving sexually explicit images or video among a nationally representative sample of 5593 American middle and high school students. Overall, approximately 13% of students reported that they had sent a sext, while 18.5% had received a sext. About one-third of those who sext had done it just one time. Rates of asking for, being asked for, and sharing of sexts are also presented, and are broken down further by gender, sexual orientation, race, and age. Implications for preventing sexting behaviors with these results in mind are also discussed.

Patchin, J. W. & Hinduja, S. (2019). The Nature and Extent of Sexting Among Middle and High School Students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(8), 2333-2343.

Download PDF

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2019 eSafety Conference in Sydney https://cyberbullying.org/2019-esafety-conference-in-sydney https://cyberbullying.org/2019-esafety-conference-in-sydney#respond Thu, 19 Sep 2019 14:19:38 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=25235 I just got back from my first-ever visit to Australia, and had an incredible time at the 2019 eSafety conference hosted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The theme was “The Online World We Want,” and I was invited to discuss our 2019 research findings on bullying, cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion, and digital self-harm among…

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I just got back from my first-ever visit to Australia, and had an incredible time at the 2019 eSafety conference hosted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The theme was “The Online World We Want,” and I was invited to discuss our 2019 research findings on bullying, cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion, and digital self-harm among US youth. After doing so, I spent the vast majority of my talk sharing a large number of actionable prevention and response strategies tied to building positive school climates, resilience, empathy and kindness, peer-driven initiatives, and more. It was quite an honor to be included among some international rock stars in our field, and I felt my presentation went really well.

Let me fill you in on some of the background, some of the highlights, and some of my takeaways. The event was hosted by Julie Inman Grant (Australia’s eSafety Commissioner) and Martin Cocker (CEO of NetSafe NZ – which is New Zealand’s online safety authority, supported by the Ministry of Education there), and is actually part of a series of annual gatherings of researchers and practitioners who work in online safety and risk prevention (Justin has spoken at previous conferences). Overarching ideas collectively discussed and championed included the following:

  • the need to stop using fear tactics to “scare” youth into good behaviors (because they don’t work, and they just get everyone freaked out and irrational about the problems at hand)
  • the need to incorporate Safety by Design when building social media platforms from the ground up so that the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is conducive to constructive and helpful (and not destructive and harmful) behaviors
  • the need to thoughtfully consider how AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning can help with content moderation to reduce online toxicity and promote positivity (one of my favorite topics!)
  • the need to consider what new features in online games can lead to an unbalance, and how that can be prevented to ensure parity and sportsmanship across all game play
eSafety19-conference-sydney

While I enjoyed all of the presenters and panelists, I want to give a special shout-out to a few people whose work directly intersected with my own and deeply resonated with me.

Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, helped us to imagine AI in the future, and reminded us of the need to approach its use with sober wisdom. His remarks are available here, and are worth a  read (also check out my own thoughts specific to AI and cyberbullying).

Amanda Third, who spoke on the Global Kids Online project being led by Dr. Sonia Livingstone, discussed some incredibly interesting findings on the way that youth in the Global South (meaning, not North America or Europe or Asia) are using the Internet to meet their social, educational, and entertainment needs.

Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, highlighted some inspiring stories while sharing about the encouraging results they are seeing from their youth-driven Anti-Bullying Ambassador program.

Carlos Figueiredo, Community Director of Trust and Safety at Two Hat Security, discussed the benefits for companies that intentionally and proactively engineer safety into their online products.

David Finkelhor, Sociology Professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, who reminded us for the need of evaluation research, articulated the importance of integrating online safety education into our standard “offline” safety education related to friendships, relationships, and health/well-being while also challenging us to move away from trite prescriptive statements directed at youth like “pause before you post!” and “don’t be a cyberbully!” and “stop sending nudes!”

Kerryann Walsh, Education Professor at the Queensland University of Technology, shared a comprehensive framework she created to help online safety education providers do a great job when they visit schools and speak to students. This was done after reviewing almost 200 research projects, existing frameworks, and child safety standards from around the world. To summarize it, best practice online safety education covers four themes (digital citizenship, social and emotional learning, content to address specific risks, and specifics for help-seeking). and should be: founded on children’s rights; framed positively (do this!) instead of negatively (don’t do this!); based on evidence (data!); embedded within the landscape of schools; well-designed and well-implemented; underpinned by principles of effective prevention; and aligned with and informing other priorities.

Sameer-Hinduja-sextortion-research-findings

This is so very critical because some speakers utilize fear-mongering or tear-jerking messages that don’t really lead to long-lasting behavioral change, or cover the material in incomplete, unhelpful, or unrelatable ways. We simply want their programming to include certain research-based components (these are fleshed out in a currently embargoed document; reach out to Kerryann for more information) designed to increase the skills that students have to navigate all of these challenges, instead of being a quick hop-in and hop-out assembly with no follow-up or additional services provided.  I was actually able to address these Australian eSafety education consultants at a separate Community of Practice seminar after the conference, and shared my best practices based on what I’ve learned from speaking at so many schools over the years (for a brief overview, see my blog on what the best cyberbullying speakers do).

As I briefly summarize what was covered in some of the presentations, doesn’t it make your wheels start to turn? Doesn’t it get you excited to think about these issues and the directions in which the field is headed? Here are my main takeaways:

  • We are making progress when it comes to better safeguarding all users of the Internet, and so that should give everyone hope.
  • We are becoming more skilled at integrating computer science (e.g., algorithms) and social science (e.g., studies of peer interactions and human behaviors) to identify, detect, and address online harm.
  • We are identifying which marginalized populations need more support and protection online, and seeking to come through for them and amplify their neglected voices.
  • And we are discovering the areas to which stakeholders across the spectrum – educators, mental health professionals, corporations, law enforcement, nonprofits, and youth themselves – should devote their attention.
sameer-hinduja-australia-sydney-opera-house

It was such a fantastic conference – the people, the insights, and the enthusiasm. I expect a lot of collaborative efforts to arise between those who attended (there was plenty of time to network with others between sessions and over meals!), and I told the attendees that Justin and I are available to help in any way we can. Numerous people have already emailed me for resources, and we are thrilled that our work is assisting the professional efforts of those on the other side of the planet. I very much admire what my colleagues in Australia and New Zealand are doing, and am grateful for the opportunity to co-labor with them to create “the online world we want.”

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AI Solutions to Cyberbullying and Social Media Abuse https://cyberbullying.org/ai-machine-learning-cyberbullying-social-media-abuse https://cyberbullying.org/ai-machine-learning-cyberbullying-social-media-abuse#respond Fri, 16 Aug 2019 10:36:05 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24733 Our professional lives focus on promoting civility and preventing toxicity online, especially among youth. By intersecting social science with computer science, we have been able to make strides in this area. With regard to artificial intelligence (AI), the overarching goal is to preempt victimization by: identifying (and blocking, banning, or quarantining) the most problematic users…

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Our professional lives focus on promoting civility and preventing toxicity online, especially among youth. By intersecting social science with computer science, we have been able to make strides in this area. With regard to artificial intelligence (AI), the overarching goal is to preempt victimization by:

  • identifying (and blocking, banning, or quarantining) the most problematic users and accounts
  • immediately collapsing or deleting content that algorithms predictively flag and label as abusive
  • promoting, elevating, or otherwise incentivizing civility and respect
  • otherwise controlling the posting, sharing, or sending or messages that violate appropriate standards of behavior online.

Since most all of us are on social media, we’ve witnessed (and perhaps even experienced) the haters, harassers, and trolls. It’s deeply upsetting, but progress is being made. We will explore the types of behaviors we’re trying to eliminate, and the ways we’re seeking to enhance the mental health and well-being of all users through AI. We’ll also discuss the challenges we face, and why this is an imperfect science. Ultimately, we want everyone to have positive experiences online, rather than being silenced, harassed, or otherwise victimized. AI can help, but it’s going to take some time.

(60 minutes)

Here are numerous testimonials from schools and other organizations with whom we have worked.

Contact us today to schedule our visit, or if you have any questions!

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Bullying Prevention Through Empathy Building: Getting Students to Care https://cyberbullying.org/empathy-bullying-prevention-presentation https://cyberbullying.org/empathy-bullying-prevention-presentation#respond Fri, 16 Aug 2019 09:36:14 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24726 The relationship between empathy and healthy peer relationships has been studied at length over the years, and research suggests that building empathy can help reduce bullying and cyberbullying while simultaneously promoting tolerance, kindness, and peer respect in student interactions.  While many teachers and administrators affirm its importance, they often do not have a toolbox of…

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The relationship between empathy and healthy peer relationships has been studied at length over the years, and research suggests that building empathy can help reduce bullying and cyberbullying while simultaneously promoting tolerance, kindness, and peer respect in student interactions.  While many teachers and administrators affirm its importance, they often do not have a toolbox of plug-and-play activities they can use in their classrooms and schools.  This session first explains the key research findings in this area before providing concrete ideas for project-based and experiential learning to decrease peer aggression offline and online, and promote intervening behaviors from bystanders.

Objectives:

• Share the specifics of our updated, nationally-representative research at the intersections of empathy, bullying, and cyberbullying among youth
• Discuss how society and culture relate to levels of empathy among youth (both positively and negatively)
• Calm overreactions about how technology and social media affect student empathy
• Consider the challenges that must be overcome when building empathy among teens
• Provide a host of user-friendly, easy-to-implement empathy-building activities and projects for students
• Show how intentionally fostering empathy can reduce the frequency of peer aggression, and increase the likelihood of bystander interventions

(60-75 minutes)

Here are numerous testimonials from schools and other organizations with whom we have worked.

Contact us today to schedule our visit to your school, or if you have any questions!

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Winning at Whack-A-Mole: What Old School Games Can Teach Us About New Digital Challenges https://cyberbullying.org/winning-at-whack-a-mole https://cyberbullying.org/winning-at-whack-a-mole#respond Thu, 15 Aug 2019 16:17:47 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24695 Last week I led a full-day workshop for folks affiliated with the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies. I have worked with this organization before and find them to be a caring and curious bunch. It was a good day! The event was held in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. If you don’t know anything about…

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Last week I led a full-day workshop for folks affiliated with the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies. I have worked with this organization before and find them to be a caring and curious bunch. It was a good day!

The event was held in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. If you don’t know anything about “The Dells” (as the region is referred to around here), it is unofficially (or maybe even officially) the “Waterpark Capital of the World.” Given the mid-August heat, I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring the family along for a mini holiday. They could enjoy the waterpark while I worked. And what’s better after a long day cooped up in a hotel ballroom than swimming and splashing in the sunshine!

The particular park where we stayed had an arcade attached, and my son and I spent some time in there. We focused on the skill games in order to accumulate tickets which could be exchanged for prizes. We did pretty well and had a good time. One game caught my attention: it was the classic “Whack-A-Mole.” Some of you might remember this game from your childhood – perhaps from Chuck E. Cheese or a county carnival. The idea is to use a soft-headed mallet to hit creatures that pop up at you though different holes. They pop up randomly and quickly, and just when you think you have one, it disappears and another pops up a few inches away. You find yourself chasing the creatures, usually a half-second behind. It is a frustratingly fun game.

Photo courtesy G. Bellan – YouTube

The Whack-A-Mole game has been used for years as a metaphor to describe the challenges of keeping up with the latest social media apps and games. You focus on one potentially problematic program only to find out that youth are already using something different. One of the most simultaneously attractive and frustrating aspects of our work is the fact that the landscape is constantly changing. There is always something new to learn about.

My sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids joined us at the waterpark. While sitting in the hotel room the night before my event, my sister showed me her Facebook feed from her phone which included a shared post from the Sarasota County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office warning about “Fifteen Apps Parents Should Know About.” I told her this was old news and that I had seen and written about this last summer. Upon closer inspection, however, I noticed that this was a new post – recently updated with some new apps.

I don’t blame the sheriff’s office for working to educate parents about particular applications (in fact, I applaud it). The problem is they are focusing only on certain apps and only on certain aspects that may create problems. And there is no mention at all about the positive uses of these apps and in technology in general. It’s like discussing the high number of car accidents without also acknowledging the positive (and necessary) uses of automobiles. To be fair, law enforcement typically deals with the worst of the worst when it comes to technology, automobiles, and just about everything else, so it is not surprising that they are narrowly focused on just the risks.

And, as is the nature with many infographics shared online, the information is incomplete. Take their description of Snapchat, for example: “The app promises users can take a photo/video and it will disappear…Snapchat allows users to see your location.” I’m not aware of any “promises” that the app makes about photos disappearing. Nowhere in the App store does it even mention the word “disappear.” On the contrary, Snapchat does explicitly state: “Please note: Friends, family, and other Snapchatters can always capture or save your messages by taking a screenshot, using a camera, or otherwise. Be mindful of what you Snap!” Moreover, I can almost guarantee if you ask a teen “do snaps completely disappear?” they will say no (Try it! Ask one!). And while users can enable location sharing, other users cannot see your location unless you have enabled this (and even then, only those with whom you have connected will see your location, not everyone).

Can these apps be used by predators, cyberbullies, or stalkers? Of course. But there is nothing inherently risky among the apps highlighted in this list that warrant their special focus.

A more prudent approach would be to spend less time focusing on particular apps and more time educating about broader safety principles that apply to any online application. Here are a few to keep in mind:

• There are mean people online (including a few predators and lots of trolls); act and share accordingly
• Resist sharing personal or private information
• Don’t retaliate when someone is mistreating you (don’t feed the trolls!)
• Don’t post, send, or share anything you wouldn’t want everyone to see
• Nothing is anonymous
• You leave a digital footprint whenever you use any device and share any content (a text, a picture, a video, a tweet)
• Everything can be copied and saved, and most everything is archived elsewhere on the Web or various computers and devices
• Copy and save evidence of harm
• If you are concerned, confused, or upset, talk to an adult you trust
• Be kind to others

These apply universally across the ever-changing social media and gaming landscape. Sheriff Tom Knight admits to the struggle: “I have no control over social media. They keep adding to it. It makes it harder and harder for us to keep up with it.” By promoting broad safety principles, the sheriff’s office won’t need to put out a new list of apps this time next year.

When it came to the Whack-A-Mole game at the arcade last week, my son and I were pretty successful. We figured out a strategy that worked well for us. He would keep an eye out for the moles, and I would quickly pound them. In other words, we worked together. This strategy just might also prove equally as effective with the virtual moles that will inevitably keep popping up.

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Youth Sexting in the US: New Paper in Archives of Sexual Behavior https://cyberbullying.org/youth-sexting-archives-sexual-behavior https://cyberbullying.org/youth-sexting-archives-sexual-behavior#respond Wed, 17 Jul 2019 18:57:01 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24525 We have a new paper that has just been published by the academic journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. As far as we can tell, it is the first article to report national-level sexting data from middle and high school students in the United States since 2011. It is based on our fall 2016 data. Below…

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We have a new paper that has just been published by the academic journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. As far as we can tell, it is the first article to report national-level sexting data from middle and high school students in the United States since 2011. It is based on our fall 2016 data. Below are some of the highlights.

Prevalence of Sexting among Middle and High School Students

Overall, approximately 13% of students reported that they had sent a sext, while 18.5% had received a sext. More specifically, 14% of the sample reported that they had received a sext from a romantic partner, while slightly fewer (13.6%) said they had received a sext from someone with whom they were not romantically involved. Additionally, 10.6% of students said they had sent a sext to a romantic partner, while 6.7% said they had sent one to someone who was not a current boyfriend or girlfriend. We also looked at the prevalence of sexting behaviors by gender, race, age, and sexual orientation. Please see the paper for particular details, but generally speaking males and non-heterosexual students were significantly more likely to have sent and received sexts, while no differences by race were identified. As expected, older students were more likely than younger ones to participate in sexting.

Most students who engage in sexting said they only did it “a few times.” Fewer than 2% of all students said they had sent sexts “many times.” About one-third of those who had sent a sext (12.8%) said they did it just one time (4.1%). Receiving sexts also happens relatively infrequently with only 2.6% of the sample reporting that they had done so “many times.”

Asking for Sexts

In addition to documenting the extent of sending and receiving sexts, we were also interested in learning how many students had been asked to send a sext or who had asked others for sexts. 17.5% of students said they have been asked to send a sext, while 9.1% said they had asked someone else for a sext. Males and females were equally as likely to have been asked to send a sext, while males were more likely to have asked others for a sext (11.3% compared to 7.1%). Males and females were both more likely to ask a romantic partner for a sext, though females were more likely to report that they had been asked by someone who was not a current boyfriend/girlfriend (14.3%) than someone who was (12.9%). Non-heterosexual students were significantly more likely to have been asked—and to have asked others—for a sext (both from a boyfriend or girlfriend, or from someone else). There were no statistically significant differences by race with respect to asking for (or being asked for) sexually explicit images. (I wrote in more detail about this issue in a blog post last year).

Of note, most of the students who were asked by a current boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext complied. Specifically, 13.4% of students said they were asked by a boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext, and 63.9% of those actually did. It is less likely that students will acquiesce to requests when made by someone who was not a current romantic partner. For example, 13.1% of students said they were asked by someone who was not a boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext but only 43% of those who were asked said they had sent a sext to someone who wasn’t a romantic partner. Female students were more likely to have been asked to send a sext by someone who was not a current romantic partner (14.3%), but were also less likely to comply with those requests (34.1% of females asked by a non-partner acquiesced). More research is necessary to determine factors associated with agreeing to send sexts when asked (both from romantic partners and others).

Sharing Sexts

Finally, we also asked students whether sharing explicit images without permission was occurring frequently. About 4% of students said they shared an image sent to them, and the same number believed an image of them was shared with others. Males were more likely to have shared an image (4.7% compared to 3.6%) and were more likely to believe an image they sent to someone else had been shared with others (4.8% compared to 3.5%). Non-heterosexual students were approximately twice as likely to have shared an image with others (7.4% compared to 3.6%) and to believe their image had been shared with others (8.2% compared to 3.8%). There was no statistically significant difference in sharing sexts by race.

Final Thoughts about Teens and Sexting

Some middle and high school aged students are participating in sexting. But it doesn’t appear to be occurring at levels that the public generally believes. About 13% of students had ever sent a sexually explicit image of themselves to others, and only 8.7% had done it more than once. In addition, 18.5% had received an explicit image from others. These numbers are consistent with a recent synthesis of 39 other studies published last year in JAMA Pediatrics. Youth are significantly more likely to share explicit images with their romantic partners than someone with someone they are not in a current relationship. Students who identified as non-heterosexual were significantly more likely to be involved in a variety of sexting behaviors. Previous research has found that non-heterosexual youth are more likely to participate in risky sexual behaviors (e.g., onset and frequency of sexual activity, number of partners, condom use, experience with pregnancy) and that non-heterosexuals in general prioritize different considerations when deciding whether to engage in sex. We really didn’t see any consistent differences across race.

While we shouldn’t panic about a so-called “sexting epidemic,” we certainly should talk with our children about the potential social and legal consequences of these behaviors. Some teens who share nudes do get into some serious legal trouble, while more commonly there is significant social and emotional fallout associated with sexting. Moreover, as parents we should be concerned about emerging research that has suggested a correlation between sexting and other potentially problematic sexual behaviors, including sexual activity with multiple partners and lack of contraception use.

This paper was a long time coming. We wrote the paper in the summer of 2017, and first submitted it to the journal on July 31, 2017 (nearly 2 years ago!). While this isn’t a typical lag, it isn’t uncommon either. And we were lucky to the extent that the paper was published in the first journal we submitted it to. That often does not happen. As academics who hope to inform understanding of contemporary online behaviors we cringe that it has taken nearly three years to get from data collection to publication. We launched our website and shortly thereafter this blog in an effort to circumvent these delays (and indeed did post preliminary sexting data in February of 2017). And yet we are academics and therefore require the vetting and affirmation that peer-review provides.

The full version of the paper can be found here, but if you cannot access it for any reason, just let us know and we’ll send you a copy.

Image credit: Yura Fresh on Unsplash

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Summary of Our Cyberbullying Research (2007-2019) https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2019 08:30:48 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=3228 At the Cyberbullying Research Center we have been collecting data from middle and high school students since 2002. We have surveyed more than 25,000 students from middle and high schools from across the United States in thirteen unique projects. The following two charts show the percent of respondents who have experienced cyberbullying at some point…

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At the Cyberbullying Research Center we have been collecting data from middle and high school students since 2002. We have surveyed more than 25,000 students from middle and high schools from across the United States in thirteen unique projects. The following two charts show the percent of respondents who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime across our eleven most recent studies. Our two earliest studies (from 2004 and 2005) are excluded from this because they were online convenience samples and therefore cannot be easily compared to the other studies. The eleven most recent studies have all been random samples of known populations which allows for improved reliability, validity, and generalizability. Please see our Research in Review addendum for more details about each of the samples.

As illustrated in the chart above, the rates of cyberbullying victimization have varied over the years we have studied the phenomenon. On average, about 28% of the students who have been a part of our most recent 11 studies have said they have been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime. The rates of cyberbullying offending have also varied among the research studies we have conducted. On average, about 16% of the students who have been a part of our last 11 studies have admitted that they have cyberbullied others at some point in their lifetime. (click on the images for a larger versions)

When it comes to more recent experiences, an average of about 11% of students have been cyberbullied across all of our studies within the 30 days prior to the survey. There does appear to be a trend over the last 5 years or so of this rate increasing steadily. For offending, across all of our studies, 6% of students admit to cyberbullying others. This average is nearly identical to what we saw in our most recent study in 2019.

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2019 Cyberbullying Data https://cyberbullying.org/2019-cyberbullying-data https://cyberbullying.org/2019-cyberbullying-data#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2019 19:58:06 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24437 This study surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 4,972 middle and high school students between the ages of 12 and 17 in the United States. Data were collected in April of 2019. Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge. Cyberbullying Victimization. We define cyberbullying as: “Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly and intentionally harasses, mistreats, or makes…

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This study surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 4,972 middle and high school students between the ages of 12 and 17 in the United States. Data were collected in April of 2019. Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge.

Cyberbullying Victimization. We define cyberbullying as: “Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly and intentionally harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.” Approximately 37% of the students in our sample report experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes. When asked about specific types of cyberbullying experienced in the previous 30 days, mean or hurtful comments (24.9%) and rumors spread online (22.2%) continue to be among the most commonly-cited. Thirty percent of the sample reported being cyberbullied in one or more of the twleve specific types reported, two or more times over the course of the previous 30 days.

Cyberbullying Offending.  We define cyberbullying as: “Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly and intentionally harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.” Approximately 15% of the students in our sample admitted to cyberbullying others at some point in their lifetime. Posting mean comments online was the most commonly reported type of cyberbullying they reported during the previous 30 days (9.3%). About 11% of the sample reported cyberbullying using one or more of the eleven types reported, two or more times over the course of the previous 30 days.

Cyberbullying by Gender. Adolescent girls are more likely to have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes (38.7% vs. 34.5%). This chahnges when reviewing experiences over the previous 30 days, where boys are slightly higher. In this sample, boys were more likely to report cyberbullying others during their lifetime (16.1% vs. 13.4%) and in the most recent 30 days (8.1% vs. 4.6%). The type of cyberbullying tends to differ by gender; girls were more likely to say someone spread rumors about them online while boys were more likely to say that someone threatened to hurt them online. As with 2016, boys reported significantly more involvement in every type of cyberbullying offending behavior we asked about. In the past, this has varied by type of behavior.

Methodology

For this study, we contracted with two different online survey research firms to distribute our questionnaire to a nationally-representative sample of middle and high school students. We had two different versions of our survey instrument which allowed us to ask a variety of questions to subsamples of each group. All students were asked questions about experiences with bullying and cyberbullying, digital self-harm, sexting, and sextortion. Overall we obtained a 15% response rate, which isn’t amazing, but is higher than most generic Internet surveys.

With any imperfect social science study, caution should be used when interpreting the results. We can be reassured somewhat in the validity in the data, however, because the prevalence rates are in line with results from our previous school-based surveys. Moreover, the large sample size helps to diminish the potential negative effects of outliers. Finally, steps were taken to ensure valid responses within the survey instrument. For example, we asked the respondents to select a specific color among a list of choices and required them to report their age at two different points in the survey, in an effort to guard against computerized responses and thoughtless clicking through the survey.

Study made possible through the support of Facebook Research.

Select publications from this data set:

Coming soon!

Blog posts based on this data set:

July 9, 2019 – Bullying Because of Religion: Our Latest Findings and Best Practices

May 29, 2019 – School Bullying Rates Increase by 35% from 2016 to 2019

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Bullying Because of Religion: Our Latest Findings and Best Practices https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-and-religion https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-and-religion#respond Tue, 09 Jul 2019 16:07:58 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24408 We share our brand new findings on religious-based bullying and cyberbullying among US youth. We also share current best practices in prevention for schools and communities.

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When youth are bullied because of something specific to their identity – like their religion, sexual orientation, or race, , it very well may take a deeper emotional and psychological toll than bullying based on non-identity-related factors (Almeida, Johnson, Corliss, Molnar, & Azrael, 2009; Every & Perry, 2014; Garnett et al., 2014; Rippy & Newman, 2006). If you know me personally, you know that I think (and blog) a lot about identity, and that my faith in particular is central to my life. Having been bullied and cyberbullied for it as an adult, I greatly sympathize with youth who have faced it, and thinking about their experiences redoubles my desire to prevent this type of cruelty.

Hopefully you agree that schools, communities, and society need to do more to make sure that everyone feels safe and supported to practice beliefs that are sacred to them (as long as they do not harm others). Earlier this year in Washington, DC, I spoke at an interfaith religious summit organized by Facebook and Instagram where we talked a lot about solutions (read my summary here, which has plenty of practical ideas to implement). Now I want to explore this issue in greater detail so that we can better protect the freedoms our country was built upon and prevent hate and bigotry with more success.

Findings from Youth Across America in 2019

Very recently, we finished collecting a new round of data from a nationally representative sample of 5,000 middle and high schoolers across America. As you can see from the chart below, students of various faiths seem to be bullied at school relatively equally.

school-bullying-by-religion-2019

However, when you consider cyberbullying, more Muslim youth said they were targeted than those of other faiths.

cyberbullying-by-religion-2019

In case you are wondering why the charts do not reflect those of the Sikh faith (a religious group historically targeted with bullying (Ahluwalia, Nadrich, & Ahluwalia, 2019)), it is because the number of Sikh students in our sample was so small that we had to include it  in the “Other” category. Future research should intentionally oversample Sikh students (and other religious minorities) across the nation to better understand their specific experiences.

Now, let’s turn our attention to bullying based on religion. As you can see below, 34.3% of Muslim youth, 25% of Jewish youth, and 23.1% of Hindu youth say they have been targeted at school over the last 30 days because of their faith.

school-bullying-based-on-religion-2019

When it comes to cyberbullying, 26.3%of Muslim students reported that they were targeted in the last 30 days, as did 15.4% of Hindu students.

cyberbullying-based-on-religion-2019

What Can We Do to Prevent Religious-Based Bullying?

When you ask youth professionals what should be done to prevent faith-based bullying, they always mention increased education and awareness. Okay. Great. I am on board with that. I think everyone is. But shouldn’t we be more specific? What does this look like in practice?

Curriculum Solutions

To begin, formal curricula is extremely important (check out Teaching Tolerance’s learning plans to help students understand and support diversity, ADL’s “No Place for Hate” Resource Guide for discussion prompts and tons of sample activities, the outstanding talking points and full presentations for students and adults that you can download from The Sikh Coalition, and the comprehensive Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior lessons related to anti-Semitism from Facing History and Ourselves). I also very much recommend the “One Survivor Remembers” Oscar-winning documentary (and lesson plan) made available by Teaching Tolerance to use with students to foster empathy for those of the Jewish faith.

Online Campaigns

Second, faith-based nonprofits should organize digital campaigns which, if done well, can go viral and greatly raise awareness about oft-misunderstood religions and customs, while also highlighting the amazing people and beliefs behind the faith tradition. This year, the Hindu American Foundation launched their “I am Hindu American” campaign, which I thought did a wonderful job of honoring the contributions of Hindus to American society. Online campaigns are the best way to reach masses of people through bite-sized, compelling storytelling that dispels myths, promotes compassion, celebrates diversity, and educates the uninformed.

Empower Students to Lead the Way

We also want to encourage students themselves to feel empowered to be the catalysts for change on their campuses. By way of example, a couple of Islamic students who came from thousands of miles away to attend a private school in New Jersey (which represented 22 faith traditions!) felt alone and unsupported in meeting their own religious obligations. As such, they worked with the school to transform part of a building on campus into a Muslim prayer space and organized a club and various events to build community and foster fellowship among other Muslim students.  

Celebrate Different Faiths!

In addition, a variety of holidays that have religious significance can and should be celebrated by the entire school. Celebration doesn’t just mean a day off from classes. It means facilitating a deeper understanding of the history and importance of that special day to those of a certain faith. Rather than devoting an hour or a day to the cause, it appears valuable to dedicate an entire month (e.g., California has declared November as Sikh Awareness Appreciation Month, as have other states). Hindu Student Associations (HSAs) at schools organize celebrations of Diwali and Indian Cultural Night to spread awareness about Hinduism and to foster cross-cultural interaction and engagement on issues that matter. To be sure, efforts to promote tolerance and diversity do not need to be compartmentalized and siloed; many schools have Interfaith clubs where students of varying religious backgrounds endeavor together to create inclusive spaces for all.

Muslim Student Association (MSA) groups are doing the same thing (here is one in my neck of the woods). Typically, they arrange Friday prayer groups/times, special dinners, and other Islamic events throughout the year at school. Here’s some background from the High School Muslim Student Associations Facebook group, which supports these associations across America:

Through your actions and implementation of the Islamic morals and characteristics, we will display the beauty of our religion to the people of our communities. We together as a group can fight radical, extremist illogical ideologies that might spark within the youth, to together better our communities and make them a safe place for all people. Religion has become a taboo to many people and through the various activities of the MSA both in school and within the community we need to make people more comfortable with our peaceful way of life. Using the MSA as a platform we can fight faithism and make our schools and our communities more tolerant towards peoples of all faiths and backgrounds.

Consider Creative Strategies to Promote Engagement

These groups often come up with some amazing ideas to denounce stereotypes. Many MSAs around the nation have organized “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab” events to honor Islam appreciation, where women on campus pledge to wear a hijab for the entire day so they can know what it feels like to be stared at or otherwise mistreated, and to grow in their understanding about the richness of the faith and its requirements. Interestingly, at our International Bullying Prevention Association Conferences, the Sikh Coalition helps us do something similar by giving attendees the opportunity to tie on a dastaar (turban) and learn more about Sikh values, beliefs, identity, and the articles of faith. This has been done in Times Square on the Sikh holiday of Vaisakhi, and at high schools and universities across the United States through Sikh Student Associations (SSA).

Make Sure Solutions Involve BOTH the School and the Community

Finally, we know that any anti-bullying efforts should target the entire community (Farrington & Ttofi, 2009; Ttofi & Farrington, 2008)) and to get families involved by intentionally connecting schools to communities (Oliver, de Botton, Soler, & Merrill, 2011; Spriggs, Iannotti, Nansel, & Haynie, 2007). This is particularly important because some of the events mentioned earlier may affect the mass of students differently. Some will grow in empathy and appreciation for different religions by putting on a dastaar or hijab (and taking the time to grow in cultural proficiency). Others may have their parochial, prejudiced views reinforced as the differentness of other religious groups is spotlighted as unique or exotic (I thank Dr. Nadia Ansary of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding for this insight).

Here’s one example of a great school-community solution that can bear long-lasting change. When one town sought to help oft-bullied Muslim students, parent events were scheduled and held to discuss certain cultural stereotypes that were prevalent in the community (Gómez, Munte, & Sorde, 2014). These events gave members of the Muslim community the chance to share about their lives and experiences, which paved the way for empathy and specific decisions to better support them. Also powerful was when Muslim fathers engaged with the school in more direct ways, which allowed for them to be seen and known – which consequently decreased the tolerance and frequency of discriminatory comments.

Coexistence Committees

Also, I’m a big fan of what can be termed a Coexistence Committee, where parents of school kids of all races and religions come together and have a voice in the rules, policies, and culture-building on campus. This often leads to more volunteers at school of varying racial and religious backgrounds, which built relationships and connection while also helping to tear down misperceptions and prejudices based on ignorance (Gómez et al., 2014). Ultimately, those on the fringes or margins of the school became central to the transformation possible within it.

Leverage the Support and Resources of Faith-Based Nonprofits

As a final example of school-community partnerships, we encourage districts to work hand-in-hand with the numerous faith-based non-profits in their area to foster appreciation and empathy for different religions and cultures. Near Washington DC, teachers from Montgomery County Public Schools participated in a three-part training organized by the Hindu American Foundation, Kaur Foundation, and Sikh Kid To Kid – which included cultural immersion trips to Hindu and Sikh houses of worship, diversity workshops, and reflection sessions. The express goal was to combat religious bullying and clear up misunderstood conceptions about the respective faith traditions.

For Even More Strategies…

I shared other concrete suggestions and strategies in my blog on Addressing Religious-based Bullying. We will continue to explore this problem and work with relevant stakeholders across America and beyond to make a measurable difference in combating bias and hate based on one’s faith. We’d love to know what you’re doing in your community, and if you’ve identified any best practices that we can share far and wide, and so please reach out to chat!

Image source:
https://bit.ly/2L9wzLX

Acknowledgements:
Study made possible through the support of Facebook Research.

References

Ahluwalia, M. K., Nadrich, T., & Ahluwalia, I. S. (2019). Sikh Youth Coming of Age: Reflections on the Decision to Tie a Turban. Counseling and Values, 64(1), 20-34.

Almeida, J., Johnson, R. M., Corliss, H. L., Molnar, B. E., & Azrael, D. (2009). Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(7), 1001-1014.

Every, D., & Perry, R. (2014). The relationship between perceived religious discrimination and self‐esteem for Muslim Australians. Australian Journal of Psychology, 66(4), 241-248.

Farrington, D. P., & Ttofi, M. M. (2009). School-based programs to reduce bullying and victimization. The Campbell Collaboration, 6, 1-149.

Garnett, B. R., Masyn, K. E., Austin, S. B., Miller, M., Williams, D. R., & Viswanath, K. (2014). The intersectionality of discrimination attributes and bullying among youth: An applied latent class analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(8), 1225-1239.

Gómez, A., Munte, A., & Sorde, T. (2014). Transforming schools through minority males’ participation: Overcoming cultural stereotypes and preventing violence. Journal of Interpersonal violence, 29(11), 2002-2020.

Oliver, E., de Botton, L., Soler, M., & Merrill, B. (2011). Cultural intelligence to overcome educational exclusion. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(3), 267-276.

Rippy, A. E., & Newman, E. (2006). Perceived religious discrimination and its relationship to anxiety and paranoia among Muslim Americans. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 1(1), 5-20.

Spriggs, A. L., Iannotti, R. J., Nansel, T. R., & Haynie, D. L. (2007). Adolescent bullying involvement and perceived family, peer and school relations: Commonalities and differences across race/ethnicity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(3), 283-293.

Ttofi, M. M., & Farrington, D. P. (2008). Bullying: Short-term and long-term effects, and the importance of defiance theory in explanation and prevention. Victims and Offenders, 3(2-3), 289-312.

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Social Media, Cyberbullying, and Online Safety Glossary https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-and-online-safety-glossary https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-and-online-safety-glossary#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 18:45:07 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24370 In our Glossary below, we define the terms you need to know in the realm of social media, cyberbullying, and online safety, so that you are increasingly informed about technological jargon as you work with the youth under your care. (Apart from the list below, you can also download a distributable PDF of our Social…

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In our Glossary below, we define the terms you need to know in the realm of social media, cyberbullying, and online safety, so that you are increasingly informed about technological jargon as you work with the youth under your care.

(Apart from the list below, you can also download a distributable PDF of our Social Media, Cyberbullying, and Technology Terms Glossary).

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP): A policy that schools and other organizations create to define the responsibilities and appropriate behaviors of computer and network users.

Android: Operating system created by Google. Android powers smartphones and tablets.

Anonymizer: An intermediary website that hides or disguises the IP address associated with the Internet user. Generally, these sites allow a person to engage in various Internet activities without leaving an easily traceable digital footprint.

App: Abbreviation for “application,” it is a piece of software, primarily referring to those used on smartphones, tablets, and other touch-based devices.

Ask.fm (app): An app (and web site) where users can ask and answer others’ questions with the option of doing so anonymously.

Bash Board: An online bulletin board on which individuals can post anything they want. Often, posts are malicious and hateful statements directed against another person.

Blocking: The denial of access to particular parts of the Internet. Usually a message will be shown on screen to say that access has been denied. For example, Facebook users can block other users from sending them messages or seeing their posts.

Blog: Interactive Web journal or diary, the contents of which are posted online where they are viewable by some or all individuals. The act of updating a blog is called “blogging.” A person who keeps a blog is referred to as a “blogger.” The term was created by combining “web” and “log.”

Buddy List: A collection of names or handles (also known as screen names) that represent friends or “buddies” within an instant messaging or chat program. They are useful in informing a user when that person’s friends are online and available to chat.

Bullicide: Suicide that results directly or indirectly from bullying victimization. The relationship between bullying and suicide is complex and for that and other reasons, many researchers have concerns with the utilization of this term.

Bullying: Repeated and deliberate harassment directed by one in a position of power toward one or more. Can involve physical threats or behaviors, including assault, or indirect and subtle forms of aggression, including gossip and rumor spreading. The term bullying is usually reserved for young people and most often refers to these behaviors as they occur at or near school.

Catfishing: In the online world, catfishing refers to the practice of setting up a fictitious online profile, most often for the purpose of luring another into a fraudulent romantic relationship.

Chat: An online real-time conversation, typically carried out by people who use nicknames instead of their real names. A person can continually read messages from others in the “chat room” and then type and send a message reply.

Chat Room: A virtual online room where groups of people send and receive messages on one screen. Popular chat rooms can have hundreds of people all communicating at the same time. Typed messages appears instantly as real-time conversation. All of the people in the room are listed on the side of the screen with their screen names.

Cookie: A file on a computer or other electronic device that records user information when visiting a website. Cookies are often used to identify the websites that the device has visited, save login information and customization preferences, and enable the presentation of more personalized information or content.

Cyberbullicide: Suicide resulting directly or indirectly from cyberbullying victimization. The relationship between cyberbullying and suicide is complex and for that and other reasons, many researchers have concerns with the utilization of this term.

Cyberbullying: Intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.

Cyberspace: The electronic “universe” created by computer networks in which individuals interact.

Cyberstalking: Repeated harassment using electronic devices and networked technology that includes threats of harm, or that is highly intimidating and intrusive upon one’s personal privacy.

Cyberthreats: Electronic material that either generally or specifically raises concerns that the creator may intend to inflict harm or violence to others, or to himself or herself.

Dashboarding: When online users (usually on gaming consoles) rapidly switch from online in-game play to the home screen for their console or other devices. Gamers do this when they are losing badly, and don’t want the game to register their demise, or lack of kills, or another metric that demonstrates poor performance.

Decoy Apps: Apps used to store private information, such as photos, videos, voice recordings, or texts. They look like everyday apps such as a calculator so offer a secure way to hide certain information. They also are called vault, secret, or ghost apps. A teen may use this on their phone to secretly store sexual pictures and videos that they don’t want their parents seeing.

Digital evidence: Tangible signs, proof, information, or data that demonstrate some behavior. This could be a screenshot, a record of Internet activity, a saved piece of content, etc.

Digital Footprint: Evidence of a person’s use of the Internet, typically focusing on dates and times of specific websites visited. This includes anything that can be linked to a user’s existence, presence, or identity. See also, “cookie.”

Digital Immigrant: A person who has not grown up with digital technology, such as smartphones, social media, and the Internet, but has adopted it later. Many adults are referred to as digital immigrants, because they have known a time when these technologies didn’t exist.

Digital Native: A person who has grown up with digital technology, such as smart phones, social media, and the Internet. Many adolescents or young adults would be classified as digital natives, because they have not known a time without these technologies.

E-mail: Electronic mail. Allows Internet users to send and receive electronic messages to and from other Internet users.

Fabotage: slang for ‘Facebook Sabotage’ and used to describe hijacking, and meddling with, someone’s Facebook account while it is unattended.

Facebook (app): The most popular social media site with over 2.4 billion active monthly users (as of June 2019). Users create personal “profiles” to represent themselves, listing interests and posting photos and communicating with others through private or public posts and messages.

Filtering: The act of restricting access to certain websites or social media platforms. For example, a filter might compare the text on a web page against a list of forbidden words. If a match is found, that web page may be blocked or reported through a monitoring process. Generally speaking, a filter allows or denies access based on previously specified rules.

Finsta: combining the words Fake and Instagram, a finsta is a secondary Instagram account which is usually meant for a smaller, private audience, and allows the user to share pictures and videos in an unfiltered and more natural way without having to make each shot perfect or socially acceptable.

Firewall: Hardware or software that restricts and regulates incoming and outgoing data to or from computer systems. Firewalls allow or disallow accessing certain websites or social media platforms.

Flaming: Sending angry, rude, or obscene messages directed at a person or persons privately or an online group. A “flamewar” erupts when “flames” are sent back and forth between individuals repeatedly.

Following: The act of requesting another person to connect with your online social network (on Twitter, Instagram and similar sites).

Friending: The act of requesting another person to connect with your online social network (on Facebook).

Gamergate: Controversy involving issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of Twitter (and other platforms).

Gaming: Participation in video (often online) games, which involve individuals adopting roles of fictional characters, thereby directing the outcome.

Gaming Console: A device designed for users to run video games on a television. Popular consoles include the Sony Playstation, Microsoft xBox, and Nintendo Wii.

Geolocation: The process or technique of identifying the geographical location of a person or device by means of digital information processed via the Internet.

Geotagging: the process of adding geographical information to various pieces of digital content in the form of metadata. The data usually consists of coordinates like latitude and longitude, but may even include bearing, altitude, distance and place names. Geotagging is most commonly used for photos and videos and can help people get a lot of specific information about where the shot was taken, or the exact location of a friend who logged on to make a post.

Griefing: when a player in an online game deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game.

Grooming: Some people use online mediums across the Internet to connect with children so that they can exploit them or even blackmail them for sexual purposes. Befriending a child in this way is called grooming.

Hacking: The act of circumventing security and breaking into an authorized location (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent.

Happy Slapping: An extreme form of bullying where physical assaults are recorded on electronic devices like phones, and then sent to others or posted online. This term is more commonly used in the United Kingdom.

Harassment: Unsolicited words or actions intended to annoy, alarm, or abuse another individual. Often based on a protected status (e.g., sex, race, disability, or sexual orientation).

Harm: Physical, psychological, or emotional injury to someone.

Hashtag: A descriptor or label preceded by the pound (#) sign that helps others easily find content related to that word or phrase. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example, allow users to look up and click through hashtags to find other users’ content that are also listed (tagged) with that hashtag.

Houseparty (app): A video chat app quite popular among teens. You can add friends based on the phone numbers you have stored in your contacts list, or search for their usernames. Once you open the app, you can join “rooms” (chats) with other friends who are currently using the app.

Influencer: an individual who can sway an audience through a digital platform. This term is often used in relation to social media marketing, promotion, and other related efforts.

Instagram (app): An app where users can apply filters to photos and videos before posting them for others to like and comment on. User can also share their content on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Instant Messaging: The act of real-time messages sent and received between two or more people over a network such as the Internet. This can occur through software such as WeChat, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.

Internet: A worldwide network of computers communicating with each other via phone lines, satellite links, wireless networks, and cable systems.

iOS: Operating system created by Apple Inc. iOS powers iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.

IP Address: “Internet Protocol” address. A unique address assigned to a computing device that allows it to send and receive data with other computing devices that have their own unique addresses.

IRC: “Internet Relay Chat.” A network over which real-time conversations take place among two or more people in a “channel” devoted to a specific area of interest. See also “chat” or “chat room.”

ISP: “Internet Service Provider.” The company that provides an Internet connection to individuals or companies. ISPs can help with identifying an individual who posts or sends harassing or threatening words.

Kik (app): A service which facilitates cross platform (iOS and Android) instant messaging across phones or tablets in an attractive interface. Users can send links, pictures, videos, group messages, etc.

Meme: a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. Most modern memes are captioned photos or videos that are intended to be funny, often to publicly ridicule human behavior. Others are popular for depicting traits or experiences that many others can totally relate to.

MMORPG: Acronym that stands for: “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.” A game in which large numbers of individuals from various locations connect and interact with each other in a virtual world over the Internet.

Monitoring: The recording and reporting of online activity, usually through software, which may log a history of all Internet use, or just of inappropriate use.

Mydol: a chatbot app that is gaining in popularity. It simulates chatting with your favorite k-pop (Korean pop star musician) star. A chatbot is a computer program designed to mimic a conversation with human users. They can sometimes be very natural in their responses, fooling people into believing they are talking to a real person. Some users have mentioned that the conversations can quickly turn to sexual in nature.

Netiquette: “Network etiquette.” The unofficial rules of accepted, proper online social conduct.

Network: Two or more computers connected so that they can communicate with each other.

Newbie: Someone who is new to, and inexperienced with, an Internet activity or technology. Also referred to as a newb, n00b, nob, noob, or nub.

Offender: The one who instigates online social cruelty. Also known as the “aggressor.”

Periscope: An application (owned by Twitter) that allows user to broadcast live streaming video, and thereby lets other people see what the broadcaster is doing or seeing in real time.

Pharming: pronounced ‘farming’, this is a method by which scammers try to get personal/private information from users by directing them to false, bogus, – or ‘spoof’ – websites which look legitimate in their web browser.

Phishing: a technique used to gain personal information, usually by means of fraudulent e-mails.

Photoshopping: the process of altering digital images so that the main subject is placed in compromising or embarrassing situation. For example, a person might photoshop a picture to append an animal’s face to a human’s body (or vice versa), or something much worse.

Pinterest (app): is an online pinboard and visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more. Users create, share, and link to boards and “pins” of visual content (largely pictures, memes, and related creations) from across the Web.

Profile: When considered in the context of online social networking, this is a user-customized page that represents that person. Here, a person’s background, interests, and friends are listed to reflect who that person is or how that person would like to be seen. Pictures, biographical and contact information, and other interesting facts about the user are often included as well.

Proxy: Software or a website that allows one’s Internet connection to be routed or tunneled through a different connection or site. If a user’s computer is blocked from accessing certain websites or programs, the user could employ a proxy to redirect the connection to that site or program. For example, if a software filter prohibits a user from directly visiting Facbook, a proxy website could be used to circumvent the filter and provide access.

Rage quitting: A condition in which gamers, through steady provoking, simply cannot take being killed (cheaply or otherwise) anymore and leave a online game game mid-match.

Revenge Porn: Sometimes known as nonconsensual porn – defined as the act of distributing intimate photography through different means without the individual’s consent

School Climate: The quality, character, social atmosphere, and ‘feel’ of the school, mostly exhibited by patterns of behavior and interactions among and between students and school personnel.

Screenshot: An image that is captured of what is shown on a phone, tablet, or computer screen.

Secret: An app that gives users the ability to share what they are thinking and feeling with friends from their phone’s contact list, while remaining anonymous.

Sexting: The sending or receiving of sexually-explicit or sexually-suggestive images or video via phone or the Internet.

Sextortion: Threats to expose a sexual image in order to make a person do something or for other reasons, such as revenge or humiliation.

Shoulder Surfing: Peering over the shoulder of someone to see the contents on that person’s computer, tablet, or phone screen.

Skype (app): a popular application that enables users to set up profiles, make free phone calls, text chat, and video chat through their computer or mobile device from any point around the world.

SMS: Acronym that stands for: “Short Message Service.” A communications protocol that allows short (160 characters or less) text messages over cell phone.

Snapchat (app): Very popular with youth and young adults, users of this app share text messages, pictures, and videos with friends from their contact list, which generally can be viewed for a period of between 1 to 10 seconds (unless set to “infinity”) before disappearing. See also, “snaps.”

Snapchat Filters: When users of Snapchat are in particular places, specialized “filters” are available to superimpose onto their “Snap,” providing fun, artsy backgrounds, pictures, and word art highlighting that location.

Snaps: Pictures or videos sent between users on Snapchat.

Social Networking Sites: Online services that bring together people by organizing them around a common interest and providing an interactive environment of photos, blogs, user profiles, and messaging systems. Examples include Facebook and Instagram.

Spam: Unsolicited electronic mail—usually commercial in nature—sent from someone unknown to the recipient.

Tablet: A mobile computing device growing in adoption and popularity. They are smaller than a laptop and bigger than a smartphone, and provide much of the same functionality as both.

Texting: Sending short messages via phone.

Text Bombing: When someone sends large numbers of texts to another, not allowing that person to use their phones because of the annoyance, or because the phone gets overloaded with constant incoming messages.

TikTok (app): Previously known as Musical.ly, this app allows users to create and share their own engaging and creative video clips up to 15 seconds long (e.g., lip-syncing to a popular song and dancing around, restating comedic lines from a favorite movie).

Threat: Making a statement of taking an action that implies or suggests harm to someone else.

Tinder (app): An online dating app that allows people to be matched based on physical attraction. It initially finds potential matches based on filters like gender and location. If two users like each other’s pictures, they are able to chat.

Trolling: Deliberately and disingenuously posting information to entice genuinely helpful people to respond (often emotionally). Often done to inflame or provoke others.

Tumblr (app): a social networking site where users can post blogs and follow other people’s blogs. The blogs are largely filled with artistic media, content, poetry, creative writing, and multimedia based on user interests (as well as the latest in memes and pop culture). Tumblr makes it easy to share images, GIFs, videos, music, text, links, and more in a very aesthetically-pleasing and customizable way.

Tweet: A short (280 character [or less]) message posted on Twitter.

Twitter (app): Social networking and “microblogging” service that allows users to post what they are doing using up to 280 characters per tweet. It is often used to share images, videos, memes, and links; tweet images can be “tagged” with up to 10 other Twitter users so they can be alerted that they are mentioned or referenced in the post. The service had 321 million monthly active users as of February 2019. See also, “tweet.”

Twitterstorm: a sudden spike in activity surrounding a certain topic on the Twitter social media site. A Twitterstorm is often started by a single person who sends his or her followers a message often related to breaking news. Using a certain and often original hashtags, the tweet quickly spreads as people are notified of the message and then reuse the hashtag with subsequent retweets and tweets.

Unfriend (or unfollow): the act of removing a friend from a social circle found on your social media site so they can’t see and don’t have access to your posts, captions, comments or anything else you’d like to restrict to a certain audience. Although unfriending has similarities with blocking a friend, it is different in the context of social media. Blocking a person prevents that person’s name from appearing in search results as well as prevents that person from contacting the person who has blocked him/her, whereas unfriending would not result in any of these and would just show that the person is no longer in the other person’s social circle.

Viber (app): An instant messaging and VoIP app (similar to Skype). Users can also exchange images, video and audio media messages. As of January 2019, it had 260 million monthly active users.

Victim: The person who is on the receiving end of online social cruelty. Also known as the “target.”

Vimeo (app): a video-based social network very much like YouTube, but with a different range of features and functions, and geared towards creatives rather than general users making random videos. For example, paid users can share their videos without ads.

Vine (app): A video app owned by Twitter (and that is now defunct) which allowed users to capture moments in six seconds and share them with others.

VoIP: Acronym that stands for: “Voice over Internet Protocol.” The transmission of voice over an Internet connection. Allows users to make phone calls using the Internet instead of a phone line.

Web: Short for “World Wide Web” and representing the sites and pages linked together via the Internet.

Webcast: A live or pre-recorded audio and/or video session that uses the Internet to broadcast.

Webcrastinate: To waste time by browsing around the world wide web instead of getting on with the things one should be doing.

Webdrawls: The act or process of going without the use of the internet which one has become addicted.

WhatsApp (app): A cross platform messaging application that allows users to send texts, pictures, videos, links, user locations, documents, and more. It allows for connections based on one’s phone number. It has at least 1.6 billion monthly active users as of Spring 2019.

Whisper (app): An app that allows users to share their secrets anonymously with other users using text and images. Individuals input their secret (or another self-disclosing message) into the app, select a relevant picture as a background, and then post it for others to like, comment on, and share with others.

Wireless: Communications in which electromagnetic waves carry a signal through space rather than along a wire. Refers primarily to wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in an increasing number of places.

Wireless Device: Electronic devices that can access the Internet without being physically attached by a cable or data line.

YouTube (app): is a wildly popular video sharing app and site owned by Google where registered users can upload and share videos with anyone able to access the site. It has over 2 billion average monthly users and over 30 billion average daily users, with 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.

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Banning Cell Phones at School: Two Decades of Debate https://cyberbullying.org/banning-cell-phones-at-school-two-decades-of-debate https://cyberbullying.org/banning-cell-phones-at-school-two-decades-of-debate#respond Fri, 28 Jun 2019 14:30:11 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=24189 Should student phones at school be banned? Should they be allowed? And is there a middle ground that optimally serves both teachers as well as students?

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It’s like it’s 2007 all over again: the debate about whether to ban–or embrace–mobile devices in classrooms continues. The latest news on this front comes out of Australia. The state of Victoria just announced a statewide ban on mobile phones in schools set to take effect in 2020. Other governments have passed similar bans in the past (e.g., France and China in 2018), though they have generally focused on younger students. The Victorian ban applies to all primary and secondary schools. New York City banned cell phones in its 1,700 public schools in 2006. Earlier this year, a California legislator proposed a bill to ban smartphones in schools across that state.

These initiatives, however, run counter to trends in schools. Data from the US Department of Education show that the percentage of schools that prohibit cell phones has been steadily decreasing, from 91% of schools in 2009 to 66% of schools in 2016. And not surprisingly, bans don’t keep kids from using their phones at school. Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they brought their phone to school every day (and 58% said they text during class), despite a ban at their school.

Banning Phones: Goals and Consequences

We first began writing about these issues in 2008. Back then, most of our opinions were based on anecdotal experiences of educators and students. This most recent interest in the issue got me to thinking whether there has been any actual research over the last decade to systematically examine the positives and negatives, risks and rewards, of student cell phones at school. There has.

One of the concerns about phones in schools is that they can be a distraction. There is emerging evidence that phones can be a distraction to learning. Studies of university students have shown decreased academic performance with increased cell phone use (in the classroom and overall). Most of this research is methodologically unsophisticated and based on small samples. They typically ask school officials whether their institution allows phones without consideration of actual use in the classroom. Or they ask students to self-report whether they use phones in the classroom (irrespective of duration and purpose). Moreover, the results are modest at best. One study found a difference of .36 grade points for students who “used their phones at all” during class compared to those who didn’t. Another found improvement by .07 standard deviation points on standardized tests after phones were banned. For illustration purposes, applying this difference to IQ tests which typically have an average of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, the difference would amount to about a one point improvement.

Finally, if distractions are the problem, why stop at cell phones? Surely we’d also need to ban laptops and iPads, to say nothing of windows, pencils, and pretty girls. I was an easily-distracted adolescent (who am I kidding, I’m still easily distracted), and while having a cell phone readily accessible no doubt would have exacerbated that, removing that single source of distraction wouldn’t have solved the problem for me.

Another issue with phones is the potential for misuse, particularly concerns about cyberbullying. I am not aware of any evidence that banning mobile devices at school will have any impact on cyberbullying behaviors, as Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino has suggested. In fact, an analysis by the US Department of Education of 3,000 public school principals across the United States found that “schools that did not allow cell phone use indicated a higher percentage of principal-reported daily/weekly cyberbullying.” While I find it hard to believe that banning cell phones will lead to higher cyberbullying, I think it is also a mistake to argue that a ban will lead to lower cyberbullying. First of all, most cyberbullying happens away from school. Secondly, more face-to-face bullying happens at school than cyberbullying. So, unless schools intend to ban students from interacting with each other at all, peer aggression will continue. Bullying is about relationships, not technology.

If the documented negatives are modest at best, what about positive uses of mobile devices in the classroom? Here the research is even more lacking, and we are forced to rely largely on experiences of educators. A high school math teacher saw positive outcomes after introducing mobile phone-based activities (audience responding, researching information, documenting work) to teach pre-calculus. He noted “an observable rise in class participation when cell phones were used in the class.” A middle school history teacher had students discuss (using PollEverywhere) and research (searching the web) the causes of the US Civil War using their devices, followed by asking them to create a podcast (using Google Voice) debating different accounts. These are just a couple of examples, but here again, formal research regarding outcomes is lacking.

Conclusion

After a nearly decade-long experiment, New York City ultimately ended their cell phone ban in 2015, bowing to pressure from parents who wanted to be able to easily contact their children. There was also some evidence that the ban was being more strictly enforced in some schools than others, creating “inequity.” In ending the ban, the city passed decision-making on to school principals – which is where it should be. Schools, in consultation with classroom teachers and parents, should create thoughtful and realistically-enforceable policies concerning when and where (and how) student devices are utilized. These policies should focus on behaviors, not devices. When I was in middle school the kid who sat behind me in English class used to jam his pencil into my side to make me jump out of my seat. It drove me crazy. Should the school have banned pencils?

Victoria is now set to begin their own experiment with banning cell phones at school. As much as research is lacking, I feel like reducing the debate to only two options—Ban or Allow—misses other important alternatives. How about empowering classroom teachers to manage this issue for themselves: allowing student use of technology when it contributes to learning but teaching students to put the phones away when they are not needed or become distracting. Or working to create a culture where students respect and honor the desire of teachers when it comes to when to use devices? Or helping students grow in self-control and emotional regulation so they don’t struggle with the inability to check their notifications for short periods of time? Or working to identify an appropriate “middle ground” of recreational device use during the school day with the input of students, so they understand the actionable concepts of moderation, balance, and priorities? These are life skills that will serve students long after they leave the classroom.

In short, mobile devices are neither a plague nor a panacea when it comes to student learning. Yes, they can be distracting. And, they can be used to harm others. But they can also be used to access volumes of information to help answer questions. And they can encourage active participation in lessons. More research is necessary to better understand how to promote positive uses while discouraging problematic behaviors. Perhaps when this debate resurfaces in another decade, we can have more evidence to guide our policy decisions in schools.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

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School Bullying Rates Increase by 35% from 2016 to 2019 https://cyberbullying.org/school-bullying-rates-increase-by-35-from-2016-to-2019 https://cyberbullying.org/school-bullying-rates-increase-by-35-from-2016-to-2019#respond Wed, 29 May 2019 19:43:37 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=23406 Sameer and I just finished collecting data from a national sample of nearly 5,000 12-17 year-olds across the United States. And we’re super excited to dig into the data! This is our thirteenth formal survey of students over the last seventeen years (involving more than 25,000 adolescents in total) and the second nationally-representative study we…

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Sameer and I just finished collecting data from a national sample of nearly 5,000 12-17 year-olds across the United States. And we’re super excited to dig into the data! This is our thirteenth formal survey of students over the last seventeen years (involving more than 25,000 adolescents in total) and the second nationally-representative study we have undertaken in the past three years.

Last month we asked students many of the same questions we did in 2016, so that we can explore trends over time in their experiences with bullying (at school and online), sexting, sextortion, and digital self-harm. This time around, though, we measured some new risk and protective factors, including hope, empathy, social emotional health, digital citizenship and screen time to better understand how they relate to the choices kids make online. We always love getting new data, and will spend the summer diving into it and posting some of the results on this blog and across social media (along with writing formal academic papers).

17.4% of students said they were a target of cyberbullying in 2019, compared to 16.5% in 2016.

Because cyberbullying has been our primary area of study for so long, I immediately looked at those numbers first. The percent of students who said they had been cyberbullied (or who had cyberbullied others) went up slightly from 2016 to 2019. With respect to victimization, 17.4% of students said they were a target of cyberbullying in 2019, compared to 16.5% in 2016. For offending, 6.3% said they had cyberbullied others in 2019 compared to 5.6% in 2016. These rates reflect what they had experienced in the previous 30 days, though we also saw small (but statistically insignificant) increases in the number of students who said they had ever been cyberbullied (or had cyberbullied others) in their lifetime.

When it came to school bullying, however, there were some dramatic differences. In 2019, over half (52.3%) of students said they had been bullied at school in the past 30 days, compared to 38.6% in 2016 (a 35% increase). In addition, almost one-third (30.4%) of students said they had bullied others at school in 2019, compared to just 11.4% in 2016. There wasn’t a difference in the number of students who had experienced bullying at school at some point in their lifetime (73.1% vs. 72.8%), but the number who reported that they had bullied others at least once in their life did increase to 40.7% from 31%.

In 2019, over half of students said they had been bullied at school in the last 30 days.

The obvious next question is, what explains the apparent increase in school bullying behaviors? It could be that students are more aware of school bullying as a problem (perhaps because of a presumed link between bullying and more severe forms of school violence) and are more comfortable reporting it (at least on an anonymous survey). The increase in the number of students who said they had bullied others at school could be a function of them better understanding what bullying is and realizing now that perhaps their behaviors could be defined as bullying, whereas in the past they might not have considered them to be so. Maybe schools are being more intentional about educating students about bullying, therefore it is on the top of their minds. It could also be a result of broader nationwide attention to bullying from the federal government, state and local politicians, or celebrities and athletes. But, cyberbullying has probably been talked about just as much and yet we didn’t see a significant increase in those rates.

So where does all of this leave us? We know that cyberbullying rates have stayed the same while school bullying rates have increased significantly since our last survey. And while we collected the data in the exact same way using the exact same questions, we can’t rule out the possibility that the differences could be attributed to something other than an actual increase in bullying behaviors (some unforeseen methodological issue). We’ll continue to collect data in future years and so we will be able to compare this year to previous–and future–iterations of our survey, which will prove valuable over time. But for now one thing is clear: bullying behaviors (online and at school) are not decreasing. As such, we still have more work to do.

Image: @chuttersnap on unsplash

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Addressing Religious-based Bullying https://cyberbullying.org/religious-based-bullying https://cyberbullying.org/religious-based-bullying#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2019 13:58:42 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=22502 Recently, I was a part of a conference held by Facebook and Instagram in Washington, DC. The conference endeavored to bring together members of faith-based NGOs to identify solutions to address bullying and cyberbullying by one’s religion. Overall, it was a productive, energizing few hours together, and I was left feeling very inspired about all…

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Recently, I was a part of a conference held by Facebook and Instagram in Washington, DC. The conference endeavored to bring together members of faith-based NGOs to identify solutions to address bullying and cyberbullying by one’s religion.

Overall, it was a productive, energizing few hours together, and I was left feeling very inspired about all that can and should be done in the near future. For now, I wanted to share some of the background work that led up to the conference, as well as the significant takeaways.  The hope is that our efforts (now and in the near-term) can make real headway in preventing and responding to hate and biases that occur not only on social media but in our schools, communities, and workplaces.

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To begin, I want to bring your attention to the work done by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) (and leading researcher Dr. Nadia Ansary) and partners such as the American Muslim Health Professionals, Sikh Kid 2 Kid, and the Islamic Networks Group (ING). They organized a 2-day Interfaith Bullying Summit in December 2017 and brought together 80 professionals to discuss what can be done about religious-based bullying. I believe that this Summit was initiated in part because ISPU’s research team found in a nationally-representative sample of American families that 42% of Muslims, 23% of Jews, and 6% of Catholics reported that at least one of their children had been bullied in the past year because of their religion (Mogahed & Chouhoud, 2017).

ISPU’s 32-page report is available here, and I strongly encourage you to read it. My hope with this recent Facebook and Instagram conference was to build upon ISPU’s solid foundation. That is, I wanted us to develop a concrete game plan that can be implemented to better serve and protect those who regularly deal with hate and harassment because of their faith.

sameer-hinduja-statistics-bullying-cyberbullying

My specific role was two-fold. First, I was to provide background statistics based on our original research about school bullying and cyberbullying and explain the overlap between offline and online bullying. Second, I was to share an assortment of ideas demonstrating promise in promoting inclusivity, kindness, tolerance, and peer respect. Specific to the latter, I suggested numerous activities in which youth in majority cultures, ethnicities, and faiths can develop a more profound interest in, and sincere appreciation for, minority cultures, ethnicities, and faiths. Dr. Lewis Bernstein, former executive producer of Sesame Street, also weighed in based on his extensive experience and knowledge.

Finally, the group brainstormed possible next steps in a “hack,” and I believe they collectively can move our efforts forward.

  • It was mentioned that many kids who are targeted because of their faith (or ethnicity) take it very hard because it is tied to their identity (much like gender, race, sexual orientation, and other defining characteristics). It is one thing to report offensive content and get it taken down – which helps. However, often through the process of rumination, the targeted child continues to struggle and suffer as they replay those hurtful words in their mind and question their identity and self-worth. Something must be done to follow up with these kids to see how they are doing – whether by considerate peers, educators from school or perhaps even by friends or followers online. Perhaps those online friends and followers can be algorithmically “reminded” (via automated messages) to check in with their targeted friend or follower in the days and weeks after a hateful incident or attack. That can go a long way towards healing and restoration as the targeted friend or follower knows they are not alone, and someone cares enough to see how they are doing. The targeted friend or follower needs to know that people do care about them on a regular basis and not only when their being targeted.
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  • Facebook and Instagram have robust portals that provide downloadable materials and videos that intend to promote mental health, well-being, tolerance, and compassion. The hope is that educators will use these tools to dialogue with students about positive attitudes and behaviors on social media. However, it was mentioned that educators still struggle with implementing them, and seemingly need more assistance to do it in the classroom. How can we make it easier for them? Can we create a program to which they can sign up during a week of their choosing, at a specific time each day and the system will automatically pipe in Lesson 1 or 2 or 3 onto the teacher’s (or students’) connected device? Can we organize an “official” week each Fall or Spring where schools across the nation run this program? Can we incentivize participation by teachers, classes and schools with some symbolic or substantive reward? The tools for social-emotional learning and even cultural competency are out there; we need to make it easier for youth-serving professionals to deploy and utilize them.
  • Related to this, it was suggested that attendees at this conference representing the significant faiths might use the video studios at Facebook to create webinars to be broadcasted (and archived) via Facebook Live. This will help to reach and equip teachers (and, consequently, students) with the knowledge they need to know to cultivate a deeper respect for all religions.
  • We wondered if Facebook and Instagram might produce more powerful public service announcements related to combating religious-based bullying and shown in user feeds. These would be 30-second clips that are not just informative and inspiring but also educational, and they would reach a much larger audience than any in-person pieces of training we might do.
  • We want kids to know it’s okay to “bring their whole self” to the table (in terms of their identity in all its fullness) when sharing and interacting on social media. Recently we are seeing the erasure of some groups that are marked by intersecting identities (e.g., a student who is Asian and bisexual and fervently Catholic might only be viewed and treated and known as bisexual). Every aspect of a person means something and shouldn’t be trivialized or overlooked. We want all youth (and adults!) to come as they are and believe they will be respected as a whole person and not just compartmentalized into categories such as “Jewish” or “trans” or “gay” or “Hispanic.” Also, we want them to view others as the whole selves they represent and respect them in the same way.
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  • We talked about how discussions of faith can be polarizing, much like discussions of politics. We need to make sure that statements about one’s religion or beliefs or practices are not used as a bludgeoning device to hurt others. Machine learning currently has a hard time detecting such abuse because of contextual complications. How can we encourage, promote, and even somehow induce mature, balanced, healthy discussions whenever topics of religion arise? No religion or political party wants kids to experience bullying. Can that be our starting point, and can we advance together on that common ground?
  • Can we establish a mentoring program in schools and communities, where well-versed individuals can visit youth and help increase their religious and cultural literacy quotient? Can the attendees of this conference provide such services? Can Facebook and Instagram provide support in some way?
satjeet-facebook-interfaith-communities-event
  • Finally, one attendee stated that we set the bar too low if we are aiming for our students to have cultural competency. Instead, we should strive for cultural proficiency. Cultural proficiency is especially important given that our world is increasingly getting smaller (because we are all interconnected and so imminently reachable), and that we are moving deeper into an information-based society and economy. I love this! I want my kids to be culturally proficient. I want them to learn global citizenship. I want them to have a grand appreciation for every other faith, ethnicity and nation on our planet. I can’t underemphasize the importance of this matter as it will continue to increase.

While research and evaluation are needed to determine which efforts will be fruitful, I believe these ideas lay the groundwork for a new round of strategies and programs that can make a difference. So it is up to all of us to do what we can. If you care deeply about religious-based bullying and cyberbullying prevention, do reach out to me, and I can connect you with like-minded others. Hopefully, the youth under your care will grow up in an environment where they don’t have to bear a heavy weight of harassment and hate on their shoulders because our collective efforts have served to lessen that load.

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Attending Organizations:

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Religious Freedom Center
The Trevor Project
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Insitute for Social Policy and Understanding
American Muslim Health Professionals
Kids4Peace
ADL
Muslim Public Affairs Council
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Islamic Networks Group
America Indivisible
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
StopBullying.gov/HRSA
DC Mayor’s Office
Muslim Advocates
Sikh Coalition
Hindu American Foundation

References:

Mogahed, D. & Chouhoud, Y. (2017). American Muslim Poll 2017: Muslims at the Crossroads (Dearborn, MI: Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 2017), retrieved from https://www.ispu.org/american-muslim-poll-2017/

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Inaugural Issue of the International Journal of Bullying Prevention https://cyberbullying.org/inaugural-issue-of-the-international-journal-of-bullying-prevention https://cyberbullying.org/inaugural-issue-of-the-international-journal-of-bullying-prevention#respond Tue, 26 Mar 2019 12:25:03 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=22426 The first issue is finally out. Hooray! And it’s freely available for you to download! Issues will be coming out quarterly, and so we’re cranking them out from now on. I’ve written about the goals and intentions of the journal here, and how it fills a huge gap in the existing knowledgebase by providing our…

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The first issue is finally out. Hooray! And it’s freely available for you to download! Issues will be coming out quarterly, and so we’re cranking them out from now on. I’ve written about the goals and intentions of the journal here, and how it fills a huge gap in the existing knowledgebase by providing our global community of scholars and practitioners a place to share (and learn) best practices in addressing bullying and cyberbullying. We are thrilled, as this “one-stop-shop” of sorts has been sorely lacking, and now educators, parents, students, mental health professionals, law enforcement, researchers, employers, policymakers, and even tech companies know where to turn for the best and most current findings on the topic.

This publication is the official journal of the International Bullying Prevention Association (which you should join if you are interested in addressing bullying in schools, communities, workplaces, or online!), and I wanted to use this space to highlight the pieces that make up this inaugural issue while also providing direct download links for our audience to easily access them. Each piece is authored by some of the brightest and most well-known bullying scholars on the planet, who my Co-Editor-in-Chief James O’Higgins-Norman and I affectionately term as “luminaries.”

Please see below, and click through to access each piece from the publisher’s (Springer) site. Also, to read our entire Inaugural Issue Editorial, please download (and share) it from here (it’s worth the read to learn what our journal is all about). Reach out if you have any questions, and consider submitting your own work to our journal for an upcoming issue!


The First Six Papers

The papers included in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Bullying Prevention have been chosen to reflect what we see as important for the future of the journal and the global community of scholars who will sustain the scholarship contained in the journal. These papers are representative of different approaches, cultures and contexts and together they hail a new era in scholarship about bullying, cyberbullying and peer aggression.


How Does Individualism-Collectivism Relate to Bullying Victimization?

In the first paper by Prof. Peter Smith and Susanne Robinson MSc, the authors build on previous theoretical work done on the relationship between aggression and bullying to societies characterized by individualism or collectivism. Their finding regarding the role of regulatory frameworks and resources are important for policymakers in different countries.


Examining the Effectiveness of School-Bullying Intervention Programs Globally: A Meta-analysis

This second paper by Hannah Gaffney MSc, Prof. David P. Farrington and Dr. Maria M. Ttofi presents results from an extensive systematic and meta-analytical review of the effectiveness of school-based bullying prevention programs in twelve countries. Their insights into the effectiveness of these interventions show that the effectiveness of school-based interventions for bullying perpetration and victimization varies depending on location. Understanding this can help educators create and implement more context-specific solutions on the front lines.


A Meta-analytic Review of School-Based Anti-bullying Programs with a Parent Component

This third paper in this inaugural issue by Yuanhong Huang MA, Prof. Dorothy L. Espelage, Dr. Joshua R. Polanin, and Dr. Jun Sung Hong provide a meta-analysis of prevention programs that include a parental component. Their results show a modest but significant positive difference when parents are involved, highlighting the need for those who design prevention programs to include a meaningful focus on equipping and empowering the family to share the load when reaching and teaching youth.


Friendly Schools Universal Bullying Prevention Intervention: Effectiveness with Secondary School Students

This fourth paper by Prof. Donna Cross, Dr. Kevin C. Runions, Dr. Therese Shaw, Dr. Janice WY Wong, Prof. Marilyn Campbell, Dr. Natasha Pearce, Prof. Sharyn Burns, Dr. Leanne Lester, Dr. Amy Barnes and Prof. Ken Resnicow reports on the implementation of the Friendly Schools intervention in secondary-level schools. Their study showed a significant decrease in reported bullying and a significant reduction in bullying victimization and cybervictimization when the student-centric curriculum was delivered by endogenous providers (e.g., school staff and the educational publisher) within naturalistic conditions.


Coaching Teachers to Detect, Prevent, and Respond to Bullying Using Mixed Reality Simulation: An Efficacy Study in Middle Schools

In this fifth paper by Dr. Elise Pas, Dr. Tracy E. Waasdrop and Prof. Catherine Bradshaw, a mixed-reality simulation set up to allow teachers to practice identifying, preventing, and responding to classroom bullying was examined. This effort was informed by the knowledge that educators who receive regular and specific coaching supports are more successful in their classroom management goals (in this case, addressing student-based aggression).


Addressing Specific Forms of Bullying: A Large-Scale Evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program

In this sixth paper, Prof. Susan Limber, Prof. Dan Olweus and Dr. Kyrre Breivik, sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) in reducing verbal bullying, physical bullying, and indirect/relational bullying, as well as cyberbullying and bullying using words or gestures with a sexual meaning. The findings of this longitudinal study involving over 30,000 students in grades 3-11 indicate that the program is broadly useful, with stronger effects shown in schools where implementation has occurred over a longer period of time.


Again, all of these are free for you to download right now from the links above. We hope they inform your specific work, whether you are an academic or a practitioner. I won’t be highlighting pieces from every issue in the future (issues come out four times a year, as mentioned), but stay connected to us and we’ll keep you updated. Plus, to learn about absolutely everything that comes out from the International Journal of Bullying Prevention, follow it on Twitter and Facebook!


Image source:
https://bit.ly/2UTtW29

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The Challenge of Understanding the Momo Challenge https://cyberbullying.org/momo-challenge https://cyberbullying.org/momo-challenge#comments Fri, 01 Mar 2019 22:12:34 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=22080 A new viral internet craze has created widespread fear and panic among parents, educators, and law enforcement. And like most of the others that came before it, the truth is more complicated (and less threatening) than the hype. I first became aware of the so-called “Momo Challenge” in July of 2018. In short, the idea…

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A new viral internet craze has created widespread fear and panic among parents, educators, and law enforcement. And like most of the others that came before it, the truth is more complicated (and less threatening) than the hype.

I first became aware of the so-called “Momo Challenge” in July of 2018. In short, the idea behind the challenge is that individuals communicate with a leader/moderator on WhatsApp (a messaging app that is much more popular overseas than here in the U.S.). This leader gives the person a series of tasks that start out relatively mundane (e.g., to watch a movie or listen to a song) but that ultimately culminate in self-harm or even suicide. The directives involved are very similar to the Blue Whale Challenge that I wrote about nearly two years ago. The Blue Whale Challenge was eventually exposed as a hoax, and no known harm to youth was linked to it (despite hundreds of media outlets creating clickbait headlines that fomented fear without any real substantiation or proof).

I was immediately skeptical of the Momo Challenge because of how similar it was to what occurred with the Blue Whale Challenge. I thought about writing something about it eight months ago, but was happily surprised when it didn’t seem to garner much attention. I thought perhaps the media and the public had learned its lesson regarding these kinds of stories. It turns out I was wrong. Just this week, seemingly out of nowhere, talk of Momo exploded in my social media feeds. Police departments and schools warned parents to protect their kids from the demonic female figure prominently portrayed as the deity-like symbol of the challenge. Mostly well-intentioned adults have since fanned the flames of this phenomenon into wildfire, and increasing numbers of people are simply freaking out.

To some extent, I don’t blame them. I am the first to admit that the image associated with the Momo Challenge is beyond creepy (it is actually a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company). I don’t doubt that kids are disturbed by seeing the photo. Emotions are overriding logic, and parents are pulling the plugs on their kid’s devices, for fear of Momo reaching out and grabbing them. In reality, they have little to worry about when it comes to Momo. The Momo Challenge does not exist. There is no leader/moderator sending messages to future suicide victims. Like the Blue Whale Challenge, there have been no documented deaths or injuries directly connected to this particular challenge. Only third-hand reports from international tabloids. No legitimate media source or law enforcement agency has provided any evidence that the Momo Challenge poses a viable threat. If this was a true problem, the police would be investigating suicides and producing evidence of digital communication with an online moderator encouraging self-harm. None of this has happened. Indeed, most reputable media outlets are finally acknowledging that this is a hoax.

The image is incredibly upsetting. But all of this attention given to it has apparently emboldened trolls and other mischief-makers online to promote it and even work to embed it in videos and social media memes just to see what sort of response they can get (though even these instances are difficult to substantiate). I’ve seen videos of people holding phones playing a video in which the Momo image appears with threatening messages, but have not seen a link to a video on a platform that targets youth. Here is a “challenge” for you: if you know someone who has seen a Momo image in a video or have heard of someone who has participated in the challenge, ask that person who shared it with you if they directly encountered it. My prediction is they heard about it from someone else (who heard about it from someone else, etc.). That’s how these hoaxes spread: someone posts something online and then people share the heck out of it without consideration of its origins. If you have personally encountered a Momo threat on a YouTube video, please send us a direct link to the video immediately so we can investigate.

In the meantime, take a deep breath and take this opportunity to chat with your children more generally about what they are encountering online. Honestly, Momo is the least of your worries. There are many other potential threats that are much more real than this one. All of these, however, can be minimized through good communication. What I wrote two years ago about the Blue Whale Challenge is still very relevant today with this latest challenge:

Whether the Blue Whale Challenge/Game/App is true or not is mostly beside the point. There certainly are many pro-suicide websites and individuals or groups online who encourage others to commit suicide. Today it may be a Blue Whale, tomorrow it could be some other high profile provocation [edit: Momo!]. Take this opportunity to talk with your children about what they might encounter online (positive and negative) and foster a relationship with them so that they know they can turn to you if they run into trouble or are feeling down. Open conversations and frequent dialog are the best way to inoculate our kids from the variety of life challenges they are likely to confront, whether perceived or actual, online or off.

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Cyberbullying and helping youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-and-asd-youth https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-and-asd-youth#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2019 12:58:42 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=408 I’ve recently discussed the susceptibility of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be cyberbullied, outlining a number of reasons that contribute to such victimization.  When it comes to suggestions as to how we can help these kids, a few things stand out in my mind. First, it is really important to try to understand…

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I’ve recently discussed the susceptibility of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be cyberbullied, outlining a number of reasons that contribute to such victimization.  When it comes to suggestions as to how we can help these kids, a few things stand out in my mind.

First, it is really important to try to understand exactly what is wrong – why the child is being bullied, and how it makes him or her feel.  We also need to realize that what may seem normal to us – in terms of social interaction – is not normal to ASD kids.  We have to venture into their definition of “normalcy” to fully empathize with how they are struggling.  The traditional ways that we help non-AS youth may not bear much fruit when working with ASD youth, just like it is useless to implement multicolored lights on an instrument panel when the operator is color-blind.  As you perhaps know, they receive social signals but cannot decode their meaning with any beneficial level of reliability.  They have what could be considered subjective blindness, and it is not a fault of theirs – it is simply how they are.

Personally speaking, I have found that ASD youth tend not to ask for help, not because they prefer isolation or independence, but because it does not naturally occur to them that another person will have a different perspective, different experience/knowledge, and thus might find a different or better solution.  Encourage them to tell you how they are feeling, even though they may not respond.  If they can’t answer directly, perhaps they will share their thoughts on how the same instance of cyberbullying might make another person feel.  That might clue you in to the emotions they are wrestling with.

When you are trying to share advice or suggestions of prevention and response, repeat your message often for reinforcement and heavily use logical explanations.  It may be wise to create and use simple flowcharts to depict human behavior.  These can show actions, the way in which the actions affect others, and the way in which others’ responses then affect the subject, to aid their decision-making processes.  For example, “if I do X, it will cause effect Y on other people, which will cause them to respond to me with Z”.

Finally, when working with cyberbullying targets who have ASD, it may be useful to jointly analyze stories, characters, plots and motivation in fiction, to point out tropes and story cues, and to figure out why characters act as they do.  Also, try using comic books or comic strips – which often convey some of the story through characters’ emotion-laden expressions, but in simplified “cartooned” art that is easier to comprehend.  Comic strips with humor that relate to real life situations are especially good; they teach typical motivations, reading faces, understanding humor, decision-making, and coping/response mechanisms all at once.

Let us know of your successes and failures.  We are especially interested in this population of vulnerable youth, and want to all we can to help.

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Flash Mobs and Lip-Dubs to Combat Bullying https://cyberbullying.org/flash-mobs-and-lip-dubs-to-combat-bullying https://cyberbullying.org/flash-mobs-and-lip-dubs-to-combat-bullying#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 11:54:09 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21911 I was talking with an educator last week about enlisting students to help create a healthy, thriving, and fun school climate, and specifically brought up the idea of flash mobs and lip-dubs. Many of our students have talents and abilities which we should really tap in order to help us promote positive attitudes and behaviors…

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I was talking with an educator last week about enlisting students to help create a healthy, thriving, and fun school climate, and specifically brought up the idea of flash mobs and lip-dubs. Many of our students have talents and abilities which we should really tap in order to help us promote positive attitudes and behaviors across our campus. Unfortunately, we don’t do this often enough, even though student voice is such a powerful thing and can make way more of an impact than the efforts of well-meaning adults.

A flash mob is a large group of people who suddenly break into synchronized song or choreographed dance — sometimes both – in a public place for the purposes of entertainment, artistic expression, or to bring attention to a cause. A lip-dub is a music video where a group of individuals are recorded lip-syncing a song, after which the original audio of the song is dubbed over the video in post-editing. Many students (including myself!) have grown up in dance – whether it’s hip-hop, jazz, ballet, tap, or a similar style – and have be inspired to create flash mobs or performed at their school or other locations. And many students (including myself!) absolutely LOVE music of all kinds – so many songs become the soundtrack of our lives as we grow up – and are highly skilled at video recording and editing.

So, it makes perfect sense to marshal the interests, aptitudes, and creativity of students at your school to share an uplifting message that can then be used as a springboard for conversation and intentional efforts to accomplish certain major goals: more kindness and less bullying, more acceptance and less prejudice, more inclusion and less exclusion. Heck, many times the news channels want to know about it so they can have cameras at the ready – and it will bring some positive attention to your school and community to counter the negative stories that typically make headlines.

The best part about flash mobs and lip-dubs at your school is witnessing the pure JOY in the faces of students who participate. I mean, just look at the students involved in the videos below! They are having a blast, and it is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. These are the moments we want to create at our school. These are the moments that matter when it comes to connecting and bonding students together, improving morale, fostering cooperation and teamwork, inspiring positive thinking, and promoting school spirit.

Here are some of my favorite flash mobs involving students:


Here are some of my favorite lip dubs involving students:

Finally, the educator I was chatting with wanted to know my favorite songs that would be ideal for a flash mob or lip-dub. Apart from the songs in the videos above, I recommend these:


Panic at the Disco – High Hopes
Katy Perry – Firework
Sia – Never Give Up
Sara Bareilles – Brave
Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
Andy Grammer – Keep Your Head Up
Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful
Rachel Platten – Fight Song
Christina Aguilera – You’re Beautiful
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
Demi Lovato – Skyscraper

Hope this helps! Find just one student on your campus who absolutely adores dance and/or music, and talk to them about they might be able to do with their friends. It’s very likely that you’ll be blown away by what they come up with!


Image source: https://bit.ly/2X6Dcl3

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Cyberbullying Victimization Rates by Race, Sex, and Age https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-victimization-rates-2016 https://cyberbullying.org/cyberbullying-victimization-rates-2016#respond Mon, 07 Jan 2019 16:05:32 +0000 http://cyberbullying.org/?p=21411 Our 2016 survey involved a large enough sample of American middle and high school students that it allows us to extrapolate rates of victimization for various demographic subgroups. For this particular chart, we examined cyberbullying victimization within the last 30 days for three characteristics: race, sex, and age. Even with a sample of more than…

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Our 2016 survey involved a large enough sample of American middle and high school students that it allows us to extrapolate rates of victimization for various demographic subgroups. For this particular chart, we examined cyberbullying victimization within the last 30 days for three characteristics: race, sex, and age. Even with a sample of more than 5,500 respondents from around the United States, some of these subcategories got a bit small (subsample sizes ranged from 29 to 1,191), so we should take care not to over-generalize the results. With that caveat in mind, it is interesting to see that multiracial females, both in high school (209.5 out of 1,000) and middle school (186 out of 1,000) are most at risk for experiencing cyberbullying compared to other demographic subgroups. While females occupied the top three spots for victimization risk, males weren’t far behind with the next five spots. Asian and Hispanic students were near the bottom for risk. There doesn’t appear to be a clear pattern with respect to age, which surprised me a bit since usually we find that middle school students are involved in cyberbullying more often. It total, we looked at nineteen different subcategories (for which we had a suitable subsample size).

When I set out to create this chart, I did so because I was simply interested in how race, sex, and age were related to cyberbullying victimization. After reviewing the results, a few thoughts occurred to me. While almost all of our research papers include controls for race, we (like others) are usually forced to dichotomize race as white or nonwhite. We are therefore only examining whether white students are different from nonwhite students. As a result, we generally do not see significant relationships by race. That is, our research would suggest that there are no differences based on race when it comes to experiencing cyberbullying. In looking at the different subgroups in this chart, we can see why: white students are generally in the middle, while nonwhite students occupy the upper and lower ends of the continuum of risk. When the nonwhite students are averaged, their experiences end up looking a lot like those of white students. Indeed white students overall had victimization rates only sightly higher (175.3) than nonwhites (144.7), but this relatively small discrepancy belies the true differences among those who fall in the nonwhite category: multiracial females and black and multiracial males have significantly higher victimization rates, while Asian and Hispanic students have lower victimization rates compared to their white counterparts. The takeaway message for me is that more cyberbullying research needs to focus on under-represented racial groups. That requires collecting larger samples from the general public to ensure large enough numbers of minority groups, or to purposely oversample these groups (or even focus exclusively on them).

It is also true that there is disagreement in the academic literature regarding whether boys or girls are more likely to experience cyberbullying. We’ve even seen differences in our own research over time. Much of the difference across studies can be attributed to the different ways that cyberbullying is measured. For example, if a survey asks about rumor spreading or hurtful commenting behaviors, then girls are more likely to be involved. Whereas if a survey includes questions about mistreatment in videos or via online gaming platforms, boys are more frequently involved. The broader the measure of online victimization, the fewer discrepancies are generally seen. We discuss these issues in depth in our book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard, but I think can do a better job of acknowledging the varying experiences of different groups, and of examining them more thoughtfully in our research.

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