The image above is a bit harsh, but I feel that is a fair word for cyber-bullying! Some other words I can think of: Harsh, cruel, savage, barbarous, ruthless, merciless, pitiless, relentless, unmerciful; severe, strict, intolerant, illiberal, iron-fisted; hard-hearted, heartless, unkind, inhuman, inhumane.
If there are any educators like me, I pursued a job in teaching so that I could make a difference. I wanted to be a teacher so that I could influence future generations and also ‘right’ some ‘wrongs’ that occurred in my own educational setting. Looking back at middle school and high school I still remember the wounds from being bullied.
According to Elizabeth Landau in her article, When bullying goes high-tech, the situation is not getting any better.
As many as 25% of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point, said Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He and colleagues have conducted formal surveys of 15,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States, and found that about 10% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last 30 days.
Cyber bullying is more of a pressing issue than homework completion or entrance into boarding schools. What do we do as educators to remedy the situation?
The article by Danah Boyd entitled “‘Bullying’ has little resonance with teenagers,” really helped me to think about our role as educators.
I am not sure there is a solution for meanness. They even make Hollywood movies promoting the “mean girl” phenomenon. It is exists and the roots of it are FAR beyond our control as educators; however we can extend an empathetic ear. And if we can’t empathize, I can imagine we can try to understand where that student is coming from. If we can’t do either of those,then we can at least educate ourselves about the resources for anti-bullying.I believe that we need to be empathetic, sympathetic and educated.
If you are like me, I can identify with students who have been bullied – I can empathize. I can do what I can to understand their situation and try to assure them that they are not alone.
If you have never been bullied, then count your blessings first, then try to understand where the student is coming from. Place yourself in their shoes whether they are the bully OR the victim. Try to hear things from their perspective and establish a rapport with them.
If the above two things just don’t work, make sure that you educate ourselves about the resources out there for anti-bullying. Brandon Turley, the founder of WeStopHate.org website is a prime example of a student making lemonade out of lemons.
Let’s promote an environment that follows the tagline below:
“Before you assume, learn. Before you judge, understand. Before you hurt, feel. Before you say, think.”