How Should Schools Handle Cyberbullying?

Carol’s Summary:
An estimated one in five middle school students has been affected by cyberbullying. Bullying has always been an issue that teachers and principals have had to handle. However, in middle and high schools lately, the problem has evolved to involve technology. Schools are now finding ways to cope with issues of cyberbullying, in which children are harassed through text messages and social networking websites.

Much of cyberbullying occurs after school and on weekends, when children are not under the guidance and care of the school system.

Cyberbullying can affect a child’s academic success, self-esteem, social skills and emotional growth. While this is a relatively new problem that students, school officials and parents must deal with, it is spreading fast and has proven to be dangerous.

Many school districts are conflicted with whether or not they have the right to inspect students’ cell phones and social networking accounts, unless the issue deals directly with a conflict within the school. There are legal issues involving privacy which makes many school officials either nervous or leery about doing so.

Many administrators are concerned about the possibility of looking through a child’s cell phone and finding compromising photos and text messages that could bring about child pornography cases. There is also the issue of how students should be punished if they are cyberbullying other students.

Cyberbullying is growing into a major conflict in today’s schools, and not only for the students involved. Teachers and parents are finding themselves concerned for the well-being of children, but are not always able to get involved since technology is the medium for these behaviors.

LifeBound’s Making the Most of High School, 2nd Edition and the accompanying curriculum shows students how to use technology in a beneficial and safe manner. To find out more about Making the Most of High School and other LifeBound materials, visit or e-mail

Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray
June 27, 2010

The girl’s parents, wild with outrage and fear, showed the principal the text messages: a dozen shocking, sexually explicit threats, sent to their daughter the previous Saturday night from the cellphone of a 12-year-old boy. Both children were sixth graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J.
Punish him, insisted the parents.
“I said, ‘This occurred out of school, on a weekend,’ ” recalled the principal, Tony Orsini. “We can’t discipline him.”
Had they contacted the boy’s family, he asked.

To read the full report:

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