Cyberbullying and the School System


Today in the New York Times, reporter Jan Hoffman wrote a lengthy and direct article about the issue of online bullying and what role schools should play in these issues. The article is titled “Online Bullies Pull Schools Into The Fray”.

Since this bullying is happening online, but usually with classmates involved, it is a difficult subject to tie back to school control. In the article, Jan Hoffman discusses the difficulty schools have with the current bully trends:

Schools these days are confronted with complex questions on whether and how to deal with cyberbullying, an imprecise label for online activities ranging from barrages of teasing texts to sexually harassing group sites. The extent of the phenomenon is hard to quantify. But one 2010 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center, an organization founded by two criminologists who defined bullying as “willful and repeated harm” inflicted through phones and computers, said one in five middle-school students had been affected.

Affronted by cyberspace’s escalation of adolescent viciousness, many parents are looking to schools for justice, protection, even revenge. But many educators feel unprepared or unwilling to be prosecutors and judges.

Often, school district discipline codes say little about educators’ authority over student cellphones, home computers and off-campus speech. Reluctant to assert an authority they are not sure they have, educators can appear indifferent to parents frantic with worry, alarmed by recent adolescent suicides linked to bullying.

Whether resolving such conflicts should be the responsibility of the family, the police or the schools remains an open question, evolving along with definitions of cyberbullying itself.

The article cites current examples of issues happening to children today and the difficulty schools have in deciding how best to handle them. To read the entire article, click here.

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