I do have one observation that has surprised me about this experience. It seems that cyber-bullying is not just a problem for teens sending text messages, but also for people who write on newspaper blogs! I’m surprised by the number of anonymous posters who threw rocks at my family. While I understand you may not have liked my use of words like “hip” or you may have disagreed with my opinion in general, I don’t think that warrants some of the insults spewed here. I am, however, appreciative of the many readers who shared thoughtful insights about this issue and parenting in general. Thanks for taking the time to join the discussion. (posted 4/1/09)
I could not agree with Debbe more!
Now, as for the issue that I mentioned early. Last week, three of my students came in during recess to tell me about an incident that happened a few weeks ago. My three students said that they had recently watched a grade 5 student take the cell phone of her friend, another grade 5 student, to crank call a grade 7 student. The cell phone owner did not take her cell phone from her friend who was making the calls nor did my three students leave to get an adult or leave to simply walk away from the situation. As my three guilt riddled grade four students confessed the error of their ways, I was overcome with the uncanny fact that just minutes before my students arrived with their tale, I had been reading through a lesson plan from Common Sense Media. org about cyber bullying and teaching kids about being a "bystander" vs. an "upstander". I'm not kidding! It was minutes earlier that I'd been reading through this lesson.
What responsibility do I have as a teacher when it comes to children and digital citizenship? Like all things children, I feel that parents and teachers need to work as a team at all times. In grade 4, we read There's a Boy in The Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar and we have a character education program around the book from Steps to Respect. How clear it is that this new world of children having email accounts and cell phones has led to another form of communication and hence another form of possibly using that communication to hurt. Classroom teachers must absolutely address digital citizenship issues and make it extremely clear to kids that bullying is bullying no matter the media used. Yet, I close with thoughts about Danah Boyd's article, which my fellow Coetailer Matt Kelsey articulately addresses. Both the Boyd article and Kelsey's blog about it have left me feeling that I need so much more than a lesson plan, but I also need a place to begin...