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Issues Assignment # 3 Cyberbullying

Georgia Southern University Summer 2011 FRIT 7330 Internet in Schools

Kali Alford

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Warwick School District. (n.d.). Bullying / Cyber-Bullying Policy. Retrieved July 5, 2011, from Warick County School District: http://www.warwick.k12.pa.us/orgmodule.php?deptid=107&schoolid=0007&mid=248

Summary Warwick School District in Lititz, Pennsylvania, has adopted a policy on cyberbullying that I thought exhibited a firm understanding of what exactly cyberbullying entails. The policy defines cyberbullying as the use of technological tools to harass, intimidate, or instill fear in a student or staff members in such a way that interferes with educational or professional opportunities. The district policy outlines the responsibility of students, staff, and school officials when confronted with a cyberbullying complaint and how that complaint should be presented to the school principal. Once a complaint has been received the policy outlines actions that the principal or his/her designee to investigate the complaint before disciplinary actions should be taken; at which point the action will correlate to the student discipline code. Strengths I felt that the strong points of this policy are the affinity that¶s paid toward procedure and responsibility. Warwick School District goes a long way to make everyone accountable for stopping cyberbullying when they¶re made aware of it. I think having a variety of channels can be of great benefit to victims of cyberbullying. Also I think involving everyone in deterrence helps a great deal in investigating cyberbullying again because of those same channels that are created. Weaknesses The aspect of this policy that I didn¶t like was the room left for interpretation. There are so many forms of cyberbullying I think that the policy would have gone the extra mile to identify some of the forms just to increase awareness if for no other reason. I also felt that the policy fell short by not outlining specific disciplinary actions or steps of severity.

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Bristol Board of Education. (n.d.). Memorial Boulevard Middle Schoool. Retrieved from Students - Bullying Cyberbullying: http://www.bristol.k12.ct.us/page.cfm?p=5730

Summary The Bristol Board of Education in Bristol, Connecticut has adopted a policy on cyberbullying that includes a definition of cyberbullying and the types of offenses that are encompassed. The policy begins by outlining the recommended uses of the districts computers. The district defines cyberbullying as the use of digital media to harass, tease, intimidate, threaten, or terrorize another person. The policy also distinguishes the fact that even though the form of cyberbullying may not have originated inside the school, but if it were brought into the school after originating somewhere else it still is subject to disciplinary actions by a school official. Strengths What I felt was the strong suit of this policy was that the district included the fact that if the form of bullying is brought to school from another source it is still considered cyberbullying. It is rare that forms of cyberbullying originate in school. They are more often based upon something that transpired outside the walls of school. The policy also goes further to acknowledge the fact the poster or sender of the materials is often hidden behind a pseudonym or screen name. However, the policy forewarns that victims should not erase the material, but instead should submit it to a school official. Weaknesses Unlike policy a, this policy I feel did not do a good job in including the staff in deterring cyberbullying. This policy outlined that the victims report their complaints to a school administrator. I think this lack channels is a major shortcoming and hindrance in preventing

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cyberbullying. Students will be fearful to report such misconduct, because their only channel to report it is in plain sight.
Lake County Schools. (2007, November 27). Lake County Schools. Retrieved July 5, 2011, from School Board Policies: http://lake.k12.fl.us/16511031094951697/lib/16511031094951697/Policy_5.33.pdf

Summary Lake County Schools in Tavares, Florida have created a comprehensive anti-bullying policy which also goes great lengths to include cyberbullying. The policy begins by defining cyberbullying, but also by defining the mediums through which cyberbullying takes places such as emails, blogs, websites, and text messages. In addition to this, the policy also outline types of harassment that may not usually be included in many cyberbullying policies such as mass texting, driving up phone bills, and altered photographs. To address reports of cyberbullying the policy is just as thorough in its outline of the actions that should be taken on part of the victim to report the act and the administrator or staff for investigating the act. Strengths The authors of this policy had a firm understanding of not only what cyberbullying is, but also difficult it is to deter and investigate. The policy did well to acknowledge that the perpetrators of various acts are not solely the person who originated the act. So often someone else who the act has been shared with privately shows it to someone else who then shows someone else, and so on and so forth. This policy acknowledges that is difficult to follow such a chain to the original link and still be able to identify intent. I mentioned in the previous summary that its policy lacked channels to reports wrong doing. Lake County schools not only include teachers, staff, and counselors, but in addition the county has a hotline for reporting cyberbullying.

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Weaknesses There were few if any weaknesses that I could point out, however I was made aware of another digital form of harassment which was cyberstalking. However, the policy merely defined the act and did very little to include it in the proceeding paragraphs as to further illustrate examples. In the case of myself I have rarely heard of cyberstalking, and as a result would be muddled if I had to identify acts as cyberstalking. I felt the district could have and should have done more to bring attention to it before an unfortunate incident does.

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My Policy It is the goal of our school system to expose students to the various resources that internet and technology have to offer and also to prepare them for an increasingly technologically driven world. However, if this is to be our goal then we must also shield students from the negative influence and defend them against hurtful misuses of that very same technology. It is the board¶s policy to investigate all misuse of technological tools and currently has a no tolerance stance on misuses such as, but not limited to cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and cyber-pranking. Cyberbullying is defined as the use of digital media such as email, blogs, websites, digital photographs, social networking applications, text messages, and mobile phone apps to intimidate, instill fear, embarrass, harass, coerce, or otherwise inhibit the educational environment or hinder the educational opportunities of a student or group of students. Cyberstalking is defined as the excessive use of unwarranted and unwelcomed words, language, or attempts of communication towards a specific person or group of persons which may cause them to feel fearful or otherwise cause emotional discomfort. Cyber-prankingis defined as the misuse of digital media such as email, blogs, websites, digital photographs, social networking applications, text messages, and mobile phone apps to or otherwise inhibit the educational environment or hinder the educational opportunities of a student or group of students through indirect and non-harmful means. The responsibility to deter and report these misuses of technology belongs to students, staff, faculty, administrators, and parents. Should a student, staff member, or member of the faculty feel that they have become a victim of or witnessed cyber-bullying, cyberstalking, or cyber-pranking they should not erase the act

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orattempt to confront the perceived originator, but instead immediately share the act with school staff, a faculty member, or school administrator so that an investigation into the matter may be carried out. The building principal or his/her designee should investigate into the matter by completing the following procedures: 1. Examine the evidence for wrongdoing and identify persons involved. 2. Interview the victim(s) as to examine why they specifically were being victimized and by whom. 3. Interview persons suspected of wrongdoing. 4. Interview persons who observed the wrongdoing. 5. Upon completion of the investigation the principal or designee should create a written report of the incident including written statements from all parties involved, evidence, and their methodology for the investigation. 6. Once the report has been evaluated by the principal or county committeeseparate meetings should beheld with the students involved and guardians to discuss the facts of the investigation and what if any disciplinary action will be taken as the act relates to the student code of conduct, the student(s) discipline record,and if applicable local, state, or federal laws and statues. Should it be determined that a student, staff, or faculty member failed to report incidents of technological misuse or attempted to conceal such misuse will result in disciplinary actions against all parties involved.