Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from MSTA Staff Attorney, Kyle Farmer.
Bullying has once again jumped to the forefront of the American consciousness as this video of a television news anchor responding to a mean email continues to make the rounds.
The video has sparked plenty of debate regarding not only how to respond to bullying, but also what actually constitutes bullying. This particular incident also puts the concept of cyberbullying into perspective for many adults. The newscaster was not approached on the street and called fat. Instead, she simply received an email in her inbox. Most parents and teachers understand the traditional form of bullying that occurs on the playground, in the hallways and on the bus ride home. It is easy to see a child getting pushed around or verbally abused by a classmate, but cyberbullying can be a foreign concept for individuals that spend little to no time online.
For our students cyberbullying is a real and scary thing. No longer can a child “escape” his/her bully once they get off the bus and into their homes. Instead, children are still subject to harsh and hurtful actions through a number of different mediums. Whether it’s a private email, a public Facebook post or a text message sent to an entire class, bullying can exist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Cyberbullies often inflict their pain anonymously. As the newscaster in the video clip pointed out, she has no idea who sent her the hateful email. She has probably never met the man. But that did not prevent him from using technology to reach out and attempt to hurt her. Technology is a great thing that can be used to open our students up to things they could have never imagined otherwise. But it can also be a tool used to spew vitriol and attack our kids in new and devastating ways.
The Missouri State Teachers Association recognizes the important role teachers and school employees can play in reacting to and preventing bullying of all shapes and sizes, including cyberbullying. That is why MSTA has put together a number of resources for teachers in an effort to assist you as you struggle with all of the issues that surround this topic. Call us at 800-392-0532 to schedule an in-school presentation from MSTA’s Legal Services Department today.
Missouri School Violence Hotline