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Cyberbullying: If You See It, You Own It
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Cyberbullying: If You See It, You Own It

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Should educators be responsible for addressing incidents of cyberbullying that occur outside of school?

Should educators be responsible for addressing incidents of cyberbullying that occur outside of school?

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  • 1. CYBERBULLYING: IF YOU SEE IT, YOU OWN IT Michelle Grant migrant@upei.ca
  • 2. DEFINING THE ISSUE According to CyberSCAN (2013), “bullying is when someone repeatedly tries to hurt another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation, or property. Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to bully someone else…bullying messages can be text messages, e-mails, social media posts, or embarrassing photos or videos.” Source: Office.com Clip Art
  • 3. RESPONDING TO CYBERBULLYING • Most educators would agree that any instances of bullying that occur at school must be dealt with by teachers and administrators. • But what about when the bullying happens outside of school hours and/or off school grounds? Are educators obligated to address these cases? Source: Office.com Clip Art
  • 4. SOME SAY NO “When the mother of a seventh-grade boy in Fairfax County, Va.,… sent his principal the savage e-mail messages and Facebook jeers that six boys posted about her son, the principal wrote back that although the material was unacceptable, ‘From a school perspective this is outside the scope of our authority and not something we can monitor or issue consequences for.’ ” (Hoffman, J., 2010). Source: Office.com Clip Art
  • 5. WHY NOT? More often than not, laws and policies around the issue of cyberbullying are unclear, incomplete or simply non-existent, especially when educators are faced with incidents that occurred outside of school. This ambiguity leaves school officials uncertain about what authority they actually have, making them hesitant to take action. “I have parents who thank me for getting involved,” said Mike Rafferty, the middle school principal in Old Saybrook, Conn., “and parents who say, ‘It didn’t happen on school property, stay out of my life.(Hoffman, J., 2010).
  • 6. BUT FOR ME, THE ANSWER IS YES • In 2013, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to pass legislation that protects victims of cyberbullying and makes cyberbullies accountable under the law. • This legislation included amendments to the Education Act, making it clear that it is the duty of school staff to report known incidents of cyberbullying and that administrators must investigate and respond to these incidents, including those that occur after school hours and off school grounds, if they impact students or school climate. • In other words, if we see it, we have to own it.
  • 7. WHICH IS GREAT, EXCEPT… • This new legislation erases the doubts about whether or not school officials have the authority to deal with cyberbullying that takes places outside it’s walls, empowering educators to take definitive action. • However, school officials can only own what they are aware of, and since teachers and administrators have little access to the places where cyberbullying occurs, they have few opportunities to witness incidents firsthand. • The implication is that we must effectively encourage students to come forward and report cases of cyberbullying.
  • 8. FINAL THOUGHTS • It is every educators’ responsibility to ensure a secure and positive learning environment for their students. The act of cyberbullying might not occur at school, but if it’s impact is felt at school, then it becomes the school’s problem. To take a hands off approach to cyberbully is unethical. “ ‘Educators are empowered to maintain safe schools...The timidity of educators in this context of emerging technology is working to the advantage of bullies.’”(Hoffman, J., 2010).
  • 9. REFERENCES CyberSCAN, (2013). Nova Scotia Cyber Safety. Retrieved from http://cyberscan.novascotia.ca/#first_blue Government of Nova Scotia, (2013). Cyber-safety Act. Retrieved from http://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/61st_5th/1st_read/b061.ht m Hoffman, J. (2010). Online Bullies Pull Schools into the Fray Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/style/28bully.html?pa gewanted=all&_r=0