Bullying has become an epidemic that the educational system has been campaigning to cease through the establishment of school wide anti-bullying policies. In recent years the federal government has implemented the National Safe Schools Framework and the Civil Liability Act of 2002, to assist educators with diminishing schoolyard bullying (Campbell 64). Since the development and rise of technological resources, cyber-bullying has expanded the opportunity for the act of bullying to take place; bullying is no longer isolated face to face. Students’ abilities of escaping to a safe haven, away from their harasser, are almost nonexistent. The use of the internet and cellphones has extended the capability of students to be targeted in private places, such as their homes. Due to the extremities and serious effects of cyber-bullying, school policies concerning bullying need to address and incorporate cyber-bullying. ” The effects of cyber-bullying on a victim are similar to those effects of school bullying. Mathew Campbell, author of ”School Policy Reponses to the Issue of Cyber-Bullying agrees, victims of cyber-bullying expressed feelings of depression and anxiety, thoughts of and attempts of suicide, self-mutilation, lower self-esteem, and a hatred of school (63). It can also be said that these effects can be more severe in cases of cyber-bulling because there is no escape for the victim.
The internet and use of cell phones has enabled the harasser to intrude into the victim’s home and eliminate places of security. This has also allowed anonymity of the harasser which in turn, increases the likeliness that cyber-bullying will take place over the confrontational, school yard bullying scenarios. Although the acts of cyber-bullying may not always take place during school hours or on the premises of the school, research shows that there is a direct correlation between cyber-bullying and school yard bullying. After interviewing 20,000 students, it was found that approximately 26% of students are victims of bullying that took place during school hours (Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, and Coulter 173). This same research documented that in addition to school bullying, approximately 16% of students are victims of cyber-bullying. When researchers compared students being bullied at school to those being cyber-bullied, it was found that 59% of those victims being cyber-bullied were also victims of school bullying and 39% of students being bullied at school were also cyber-bullied (Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, Coulter 173). It is evident that there is a correspondence between school bullying and cyber-bullying. Currently, most schools have a non-tolerance policy concerning acts of bullying taking place during school hours or on school grounds, but have yet to incorporate the aspect of cyber-bullying. With the use of technology in schools, the act of cyber-bullying is taking place more often in school than just outside of school. The internet use in schools allows students to access social-networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, because of their educational purposes, but these sites are some of the origins where harassing comments and intimidating posts are being seen. Along with the internet, the increase in the use of cell phones in school, whether it is against school policy or not, has created another outlet for students to be bullied. These technology sources are eliminating the physical or confrontational aspect of bullying and allowing it to be less visible and easily feasible. Educators are not always aware of what is taking place in schools and less likely to be able to prevent it without victims reporting it, and because there is no policy against cyber-bullying victims are less likely to report it.
An educational system’s sole responsibility is to provide a quality education for all students. In doing so, it has taken on the role of creating a safe learning environment which includes preventing students from being harassed and/or intimidated by their peers. Some questions have been raised on whether the jurisdictional boundaries put limitations on what a school may actually do to prevent cyber-bullying without intruding on the legal rights of students. Campbell states, “Legally a school does not have any responsibility for the care of students within the home… However, a social responsibility of schools is to ensure that their students are cared for beyond that which is legally prescribed” (66). Therefore, any act of bullying that may eventually disrupt a student’s ability to learn or feel comfortable at school, is still the school’s responsibility to prevent. Educators and administrators need to educate students and parents on identifying acts of bullying, as well as the effects of bullying. Parents and students must also be encouraged to report acts of bullying. To ensure that the prevention of cyber-bullying and school yard bullying, the school
needs to enforce cyber-bullying rules and set consequences for those who break those rules.
The traditional scenario of a child being verbally or physically intimidated in the school yard is no longer the only form of bullying. Technology has opened the doors to a new and less apparent form of harassment. Its emotional and psychological effects are just as severe, if not more lasting. Children have lost the security and comfort of their homes and can no longer escape their harasser. With cyber-bullying being increasingly wide-spread, it is essential that schools incorporate cyber-bullying prevention into their anti-bullying policies.
Campbell, Matthew. “School Policy Responses to the Issue of Cyber-Bullying.” Journal of Catholic School Studies 83.2 (2011): 62-69. Print. Schneider, Shari K., Lydia O’Donnell, Ann Stueve, and Robert W. S. Coulter. “Cyberbullying, School Bullying, and Psychological Distress: A Regional Census of High School Students.” American Journal of Public Health 102.1 (2012): 171-177. Print.