Pilot program helps districts tackle cyberbullying

Dive Brief:

  • A pilot program in California is offering administrators and school officials a hotline to call when they are dealing with potential instances of cyberbullying or online harassment.
  • The program, called #iCANHELP, is modeled on a British helpline, with a small staff working with district officials to review social media sites and with companies to remove offending posts.
  • Founder Anne Collier also plans to build a database of peer-reviewed studies to help institutions navigate the often-confusing information available.

Dive Insight:

Teachers often struggle to address bullying, and in the increasingly complex teaching world, new forms of bullying can feel overwhelming to take on. But one expert told eSchool News that the helpline can help alleviate that feeling

“Educators have so much on their plates already, so when these challenging social media issues pop up, it can be pretty overwhelming,” said Patricia Agatston, author of the book "Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age."

“And even though teachers get technology training, having a trusted, accessible source to turn to for cyberbullying and related problems can really make a difference.”

It also provides an alternative to legal intervention, which can be complicated and ineffective. Several states have tried to tackle cyberbullying with legislation and policy, but Collier says many efforts aren’t rooted in the needs and struggles of the educators who deal with the bullying directly.

“Policy making in this country around social media and youth has been driven more by fear than by research,” Collier told District Administration. “It’s really time to ground policy making — be it at the school, community, state, or national level, in actual experience.”

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Filed Under: K12 Technology Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: Flickr user J_O_I_D