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School Safety Topics

Digital Safety & Cyberbullying

The Internet offers a wealth of opportunities for education and communication, but with web-enabled devices now commonplace for our youth, issues of digital/Internet safety are growing concerns. It is necessary to teach them how to be safe, respectful and productive in a digital world.

Understanding the Issue

Kids tend to think they’re anonymous online, and they forget that what they post becomes public. At the same time, a child’s home is no longer a refuge from playground or neighborhood bullies, as students are turning to cyberspace to harass their peers using a new method of bullying—cyberbullying. Besides peer-to-peer issues, online stalkers and predators are additional concerns. Parents, educators and all who deal with our youth should familiarize themselves with these topics, and teach children safe and appropriate online behavior.

  • What is cyberbullying?
    Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.

    Examples of cyberbullying include: mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites or fake profiles.
  • How big of a problem are online predators?
    Sexual predators are a very real threat. According to the FBI, "online predators are everywhere", targeting boys and girls of all ages. Offline, predators seem like ordinary people, but online they can become master manipulators. They target tech savvy children who are emotionally vulnerable. They use empathy to befriend their victims and earn their trust.
  • How can children protect themselves online?
    First, it's important for children to understand proper online behavior. A general rule is, if you wouldn’t say it if in front of your parent or teacher, don’t send it. Parents should be sure to extend the idea of "stranger danger" to include the internet, teaching children that they should only accept social media friendships from people they know. It is crucial that children learn to notify an adult when something makes them uncomfortable or when someone is being cruel or hurtful. They should also be taught not to respond to bullying and never to share personal information.