Magazine article District Administration

5 Effective Steps to Solving the Bullying Epidemic-And the Tools to Get You There: Real-Time Incident Reporting Tools Can Provide an Opportunity for Early Intervention for Bullied or Suicidal Students

Magazine article District Administration

5 Effective Steps to Solving the Bullying Epidemic-And the Tools to Get You There: Real-Time Incident Reporting Tools Can Provide an Opportunity for Early Intervention for Bullied or Suicidal Students

Article excerpt

A District Administration Web Seminar Digest * Originally presented on January 24, 2013

PublicEngines[TM]

As the use of social media and mobile technology has grown at an exponential rate, so has the problem of bullying. To address this issue and keep up with federal and state anti-bullying mandates, administrators need a solution that utilizes student "insider" knowledge to prevent campus violence, drug use, and more. This web seminar addresses how crime reporting tools can be used to address these problems, as well as how to push user adoption and measure progress.

Paul Myer: Seventy-one percent of students today say that bullying is an ongoing problem in their schools. Today, bullying has been exacerbated by the use of social media and cell phones in the school environment. According to research by Dartmouth University, in 2008, about 61 percent of students used social media. Four years later, that number jumped to 95 percent. Today, it's not unusual to see fifth or sixth graders walking around with cell phones. Because the use of these platforms is so widespread, it's not surprising to hear that 50 percent of teens say they have been bullied online or via text.

There are funding and accountability challenges to the fight to prevent bullying in schools. Forty-nine states have passed anti-bullying legislation. There's also the federal requirements under the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA compliance requires schools to have bullying education for teachers and administrators. CIPA's curriculum teaches appropriate online behavior and use of social networking, as well as addresses cyber-bullying. To maintain E-Rate funding, administrators must be vigilant about maintaining CIPA compliance. In California, federal funding is based on attendance. With 160,000 students nationally missing school daily due to fear of bullying or attack, California alone could lose up to $8 million a day due to bullying-related absences.

I think the answer to this issue involves increased communication. The U.S. Department of Education sponsored a report after the Columbine tragedy. We learned from that report that in 81 percent of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker had prior knowledge, but failed to report it or the incident failed to get logged in the appropriate system. However, no one wants to be a snitch or wants to be targeted by a bully or attacker if the instigator finds out who reported their plans to authorities. All of these factors illustrate that schools need to provide students with a safe, confidential way to report what they know without fear of retribution.

Safe2Tell is an organization that started working with PublicEngines immediately after the Columbine tragedy. Safe2Tell is a nonprofit that provides a single platform that allows for easy access to students, teachers, and parents. Users can text confidential tips through the PublicEngines platform. We also recently announced a new mobile app that works on Apple and Android devices. Coupled with curriculum resources and awareness, since its launch, Safe2Tell has received 6,000 tips, intervened in more than 1,000 suicides, and prevented 28 planned school attacks.

Let's look at the five steps you should keep in mind as you implement your own anti-bullying efforts.

* First, you have to go where the students are. You have to leverage the technology they leverage. As part of our system, we have a provision for people to phone in tips. However, texting is still our number one mode. And even that is quickly being overtaken by our mobile application, which allows students to send in pictures or videos with their reports.

* Second, you have to have confidential reporting. You will lose the support of students pretty quickly if they see there are consequences for reporting bullying, cyberbullying, suicide threats, drugs, or violence on campus.

* Third is the necessity for a platform that is available to all parents and teachers, as well as students. …

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