Bullying is not a new phenomenon and, unfortunately, it continues to occur whether we like it or not.  Remember the good ol’ daysYouTube Preview Image when most parents viewed this type of personalized “terrorism” as part of growing up?  This was an era when adults generally dismissed this abhorrent behavior as simply kids being kids.  Moreover, the “moral majority” mistakenly asserted there was no real reason for concern so they sat passively on the sidelines or ignored the issue altogether.  It was the golden age of adolescence ,  where a mean prank or an insulting word on the playground would hopefully fade over time.   Unfortunately, as technology has improved and access has become easier, we are also witnessing the birth of “digital” bullying. Kids are posting videos on You Tube and starting “hate” clubs on Facebook.  In the 20th Century, incidents of bullying were dealt with immediately and, if we were lucky, did not escalate beyond childish immaturity.  However, the 21st Century bullies bring an entire new issue to playground – permanency.  While we examine our digital footprints, we must not forget that some footprints contain the “bully fungus” that will not go away – it’s now a product of cyberspace!

“The student is victimized publicly over and over again.”

When pondering the question regarding who is responsible for educating our youth on this topic, I believe we cannot stand idly on the sidelines and watch it happen any longer.  Ironically, in a discussion with a group of grade 7 students, 25/40 did not believe it was their parent’s responsibility to teach them about cyber-bullying.  The students asserted that since their parents are not “tech savvy”, it excuses the parents from this responsibility.  Even more surprising,  these same students contend that they (the students) are responsible for dealing with the bullying issue themselves – they just have to deal with it.  Amazing.   Would a parent buy a 12 yr old a car and then let them drive it without teaching them how?  No, absolutely not!  So, why do parents buy students a computer and assume no responsibility regarding its proper use?  Personally, I believe we are all responsible – no required – to ensure students understand the power of social networking and the consequences of how it’s used.  It is imperative that parents and educators play a role in modeling proper behavior and expectations when driving on the super-highway.  It is not “us” or “them” – it’s we.