Posts filed under ‘Cyberbullying’
We at OneSeventeen Media are joining the fight to prevent bullying and are so pleased to announce that MTV’s television network, Logo, is in search of some of the best anti-bullying public service announcements in what it’s calling “Logo’s Anti-Bullying PSA Contest”. The contest runs through November 28 and any U.S. resident can submit 25-second videos that convey messages of anti-bullying. The best part? They are looking for amateur filmmakers, everyday people like you and me to fulfill this order. Professional filmmakers are actually explicitly excluded from entering.
“Bullying is wrong. It needs to end. And you can help,” the tagline for the contest reads.
The hope is that, not only will people who may have not previously engaged with this topic enter into the discussion because they like the media aspect of it, but they will also discuss it with others, spreading the word about anti-bullying without overtly meaning to. The contest will generate buzz that extends beyond just those participating, not to mention the exposure that the actual aired PSA will get. People channel surfing with only the intention of being entertained will be hit with this all-important message. News stories and the “It Gets Better” campaign, among other recent coverage, has brought much-needed attention to the issue of anti-gay bullying, but people need to seek that out to some extent in order to learn about it. A television spot could be the most successful way to reach more passive consumers of media.
The study of the “Ethics of American Youth” released Tuesday surveyed more than 40,000 high school students. The survey reported that half of all high school students say they have bullied someone in the past year, with nearly as many saying they have been the victims of bullying.
A study by the non-profit Josephson Institute of Ethics also found that one-third of all high school students say that violence is a big problem at their school, and nearly one in four say they do not feel very safe there.
The issue of harassment gained prominence this year after a spate of suicides by students who were being bullied. President Obama has even stepped forward, calling for greater awareness of the bullying epidemic, saying the nation must “dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.”
This past Tuesday also featured The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, holding a national press conference announcing guidance to schools on handling bullying and discriminatory harassment.
Earlier this month, Duncan released a statement about anti-gay bullying in response to to a trend of recent suicides — particularly Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who took his life in September:
“This is a moment where every one of us — parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience —needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it’s students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop.”
Duncan’s statements and planned press conference also comes at the time that the local story of Cassandra Morris was published. Morris dropped out of Ogemaw Heights High School earlier this month because she said she couldn’t handle the bullying from students for being a lesbian. Her bullying went beyond the walls of the school.
So with all these cries for justice, cries for help, occurring this week, the question remains: will something actually be done? Bullying is a crisis that is always discussed, but never really tackled. Maybe now that the harsh spotlight of the media is highlighting every painful angle progress might actually be made? The White House has even gone as far as to say that it would host a conference next year on preventing bullying and harassment. But is this soon enough?
Forty-two percent of teens use social networks daily. This statistic, and a slew of other useful ones, come from the most recent presentations released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project: Teens and Social Media (pictured above), Social Network Usage in Teens vs. Adults and Cyberbullying. Check them out; they tell us the teens + tweens continue to increase in their interactive connectivity. EMarketer also shares that 15 million teens + tweens are going to be in virtual worlds by 2013. To reach kids parents, organizations and companies have to meet them where they are — in social media!
“Most of what teachers hear from students outside of the classroom might be answerable by students’ parents if only youth felt comfortable asking them. Teachers get asked about learning in general (e.g., “Why should I care about Shakespeare anyhow?”). They get asked health and sex-ed questions (e.g., “When will I get my period?”). They get asked for relationship advice (e.g., “How do I ask Alex to go to prom with me?”). They get asked about the future (e.g., “How do I get into college?”). Teachers get asked about the serious and the mundane, the personal and the abstract. But most of it has nothing to do with harm or abuse. Youth turn to teachers because they trust them, because they need advice from an adult and because they think that a trusted teacher might be honest with them. While some teens have other adults they can turn to, this isn’t the case for all teens. And for those teens in particular, it’s absolutely crucial that teachers are able to be there.”
As someone who has had valuable interactions with my own students through social media, I agree with Danah. Unfortunately, there are kids who also don’t feel like they can talk to their parents or teachers. We’re excited to provide a safe space for these kids to come to find accurate information about the big deals and little deals in their everyday lives.
At OneSeventeen Media, we often talk about providing kids tools to survive their youth. We firmly believe that social-emotional learning, crisis intervention, relevant content and experience sharing are keys in helping our young people navigate the choppy waters of adolescent life. Two stories stuck out to me over the last week as examples that our collective youth are in desperate need of resources to help them survive and overcome the challenges of growing up; too often our teens seek out extreme, self-destructive measures as a means of emotional release.
The Today Show shared the story of Jesse Logan, the promising Ohio teen who hung herself as an escape from the torture she endured as part of a sexting breakup scandal. My heart aches for the Logan family, and I see two opportunities for communities of youth and adults to learn from their tragic experience. We’ve got to work on teaching kids to be savvy digital citizens and drive home the potential long-term ramifications of their short-term digital decisions. Secondly, we must improve and innovate upon the opportunities and resources we provide kids for coping with their emotional distress. In Jesse’s situation, her school administration and mother were both tuned in to her struggles, but Jesse still found herself unable to fully disclose her distress and find the help she needed.
This week, the New York Times did an intriguing piece on the young adult novel, Thirteen Reasons Why and its quiet rise to bestseller status. In full disclosure, I have not read the book (but will be reading it soon!). The NYT explains that Jay Ashers debut novel,
is made up of the transcripts of audiotapes that 16-year-old Hannah Baker recorded before committing suicide, interspersed with the reactions of a high school classmate who listens to them. Each tape reveals an anecdote about another classmate whose actions the girl blames for her death.
While this simplistic description may sound morbid, the story obviously resonates with its youth audience evident in its number three spot on the NYT Bestseller List. One student shared his takeaway after finishing the book,
“I think the whole message of the book is to be careful what you do to people, because you never know what they’re going through,” said Christian Harvey, a 15-year-old sophomore at Port Charlotte High School in Port Charlotte, Fla. “You can really hurt somebody, even with the littlest thing.”
Harvey’s understanding shares a powerful learning opportunity for students, and whether youth identify with Asher’s work as the victim, bully or bystander, their interest is evidence that relevant content carries tremendous weight. Students are hungry for information about the struggles of teen life, and as adults it is our responsibility to make sure we provide them the life-saving resources they need.
(Screenshot found here)
UCLA’s study citing that 71% of 12-17 year olds have been cyberbullied in the last year is indeed concerning, but most worrisome to me is that only 1 in 10 kids reports the bullying to parents or adults, citing several reasons for their hesitation:
The most common reason for not telling an adult, cited by half the bullied participants, was that teens believe they “need to learn to deal with it.” In addition, 31 percent reported that they do not tell because they are concerned their parents might restrict their Internet access. This concern was especially common among girls between the ages of 12 and 14, with 46 percent fearing restrictions, compared with 27 percent of boys in the same age group. One-third of 12-to-14-year-olds reported that they didn’t tell an adult out of fear that they could get into trouble with their parents.
What are parents to do? Being proactive is the best way for parents to prevent their children from being victims of continual cyberbullying. Teaching your kids practices and expectations for safe internet surfing and online interactions is the best way to prevent the kids you love from becoming victims. One of the many content areas we at OneSeventeen Media are excited to address is digital citizenship. We look forward to partnering with the PlumbBrain community to tackle tough topics like cyberbullying and provide practical, useful solutions and resources for kids and parents.
An idea I find appealing is to create an Internet User Policy for your household, with adults and kids contributing in the process. Schools, libraries, community centers and most any public access points have Internet User Polices, and maybe your home should too.
Creating a policy would be a great way for parents to share their knowledge about digital citizenship, as well as provide strategies for dealing with cyberbullies. Be sure to make this process a conversation with your kids and solicit their input for what they think is fair and helpful to them. As part of the conversation, I would definitely include for kids (on an age appropriate level) concerns about cyberbullying. Consider phrasing it in a way that affirms their abilities to deal with negative influences/comments correctly, but points out how cyberbullying can quickly escalate out of control. Also make sure that your kids understand what cyberbullying is so that they aren’t perpetuating the cycle.
In regards to cyberbullying reporting, outline for kids some possible options/outcomes if they were to present you with a case of cyberbullying. You can address some of the concerns of teens who don’t report problems to reinforce for your child that you’re a safe place to turn. This requires parents to be a bit tech savvy, but depending on the circumstances, have some options available. If kids think reporting online problems to you means they’ll get internet privileges taken away, they’ll stay mum to protect their online social standing. Suggestions include (but aren’t limited to, and not all are appropriate for various situations) changing passwords, changing user names, blocking individuals, adjusting privacy settings, avoiding problematic sites, reporting abusive behavior to site administrators and the ones your kids won’t like — talking to the bully’s parents or school administrators. See if you can’t find some common ground with your kids to set guidelines you can both live with.
Other areas to consider addressing in your home user policy — hours for computer usage, content, visibility, parent oversight and privacy. We’d love to hear from any parents or youth who have home user policies, or suggestions for what to include in a policy. We look forward to being able to provide more resources, templates interactive activities, and member content addressing digital citizenship and cyberbullying through PlumbBrain.
(Image found here)