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SWCS educates parents on cyberbullying
The South-Western City School District held a parent workshop on cyberbullying on Dec. 12 at Norton Middle School.
The workshop provided information on trends, terminology and the psychological effects of cyberbullying on the victim, bully and bystanders.
Heidi Stevenson, presenter and assistant principal at Pleasant View Middle School, gave examples of cyberbullying and explained the ramifications and potential side effects.
Cyberbullying can take on the form of a threatening email or text message, a website set up to mock others, pretending to be someone else while posting messages and forwarding private messages, pictures or videos to others.
“We don’t necessarily know when a child is on the Internet how they are responding to what they are seeing,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said society is seeing an increase in cyberbulling due to the prevalence of technology.
Statistics provided by i-Safe, a non-profit foundation with the mission to make Internet experiences safe, shows in a survey of 1,500 students ranging from fourth to eighth grade, 42 percent were bullied online, with 58 percent not telling their parents or an adult something mean or hurtful happened online.
“Online actions have real world consequences,” Stevenson said. “It is very important if you are online to friend your child so you know what they are doing.”
“We want kids to take on responsibility, but they’re still kids,” Norton Middle School Assistant Principal Tresa Davis said. “You want them to be responsible, but we have to remember not to let go.”
Stevenson said teachers should communicate with students to ensure they come to an adult with their concerns. Parents should watch for signs of bullying and look at emails as well as children’s behaviors to determine if there is a problem.
“The grades are a great indicator,” Stevenson said. “Asking your student every day to name something good, something that didn’t go well and something to change for tomorrow can help to keep the lines of communication open from early on.”
The presentation addressed online risks and how to address potential problems from the use of technology.
“Sometimes parents have to understand that the school cannot do anything but have a conversation,” Stevenson said. “When it doesn’t happen at school, while it is important to share, we are unable to intervene in those cases that do not continue on school property.”
Stevenson said students are the key to solving cyberbullying problems and encouraging children to speak to adults can make the Internet a more positive experience.
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