Schoolyard taunts certainly haven’t gone away, but the Digital Age has brought with it the advent of cyberbullying, a method of peer abuse that allows for more anonymity for the aggressors, not to mention giving bullies the chance to engage in these taunts at any time of day or night, not just during school hours.

There are many documented health and behavioral effects of traditional and cyberbullying, and parents, teachers, and librarians are in a position to do a lot to help teach kids to deal with bullying and to stop it before it starts. But some teens are taking things into their own hands, too. College student Emily-Anne Rigal, who founded the organization We Stop Hate in 2010, is petitioning Facebook to add a bullying button to its posts. The button would allow users to report suspected abuse to potentially build up a case against a user and either remove their posts or their entire account from the site. Given that Facebook is one of the major arenas for cyberbullying, this seems like a good place to start.

Currently, Rigal is seeking votes on for those who support having a method to report harassment. Proponents of the button say that this will help teens learn to recognize inappropriate online behaviors and monitor themselves. But possible drawbacks include teens using the button to incorrectly report behaviors that are not bullying. What side are you on?

We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Read More →
  • Skouts flirt screen facilitates, social and local gaming

    Skout Flirt Screen

    Social Media has been a positive force for youth. It lets them express themselves, helps them overcome social isolation and it gives them the ability to influence the world without the freedom granted by adulthood. There is a darker side to social media as well. The most evident in recent years has been cyber bullying, but it’s not the only issue.

    Read More →

    Terms of Service (ToS) are something lots of us encounter every day.’  Probably, few people actually read what these agreements actually say before signing up for a web site or installing a new piece of software.’  But, because of what happened last week, I’m wondering if perhaps we need to be more aware of what these agreements say and also converse with teens a bit about what it means when they agree to ToS for a web site or piece of software.

    The reason that this became something to consider over the past week, is because of the verdict turned in in the Megan Meier cyberbullying case. As readers might know, Read More →

    A couple months ago Linda Braun blogged about the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in May.’  Now, California appears to be following suit.’  Assemblyman Ted Lieu from Torrance has introduced an amendment that would allow school officials to punish students that use electronic devices to harass fellow students.

    The amendment is framed in terms of student safety, and considers cyberbullying to be behavior that would disrupt the “safe, secure and peaceful” school environment to which students are entitled.’  Specifically, the amendment would let school officials “suspend a pupil or recommend a pupil for expulsion for bullying, including, but not limited to, bullying by an electronic act.”‘  Bullying is defined in this measure as: Read More →

    A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the indictment of the woman who harassed teenager Megan Meier and in that post I talked about the importance of adults taking responsibility for activities teens take part in on the web. I was reminded of that post as I read about new legislation in Congress, The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Protection Act – H.R. 6123. This act states:

    Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

    Read More →

    Check out these bookmarks

    • Dealing with Cyberbullies
    • Safe blogging: Tips for Teens
    • Social Networking: Tips for Parents

    Can be downloaded from ILA’s site too:

    Way to go ILA!

    ILA has consistently stayed in the forefront of informing people about the positive values of social networking sites, thanks to the leadership of Robert Doyle, and the many librarians, educators, and teens and parents committed to staying safe online through education. Yet still, Illinois is one of the hardest hit states in regards to such legislation titled, ‘Social Networking Website Prohibition Act.’. What can we do to help?

    Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

    February 5-9 is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. Share what your library is doing to honor this week. There are a lot of discussions about cyberbullying on various list servs. This is one way that dating violence can start. What tools can we give teens so they know they have choices and they deserve to have healthy relationships? The School Library as Sanctuary by Lynn Evarts, VOYA December 2006, might be one place to start.

    Posted by Kelly Czarnecki