Earlier this week, I introduced you to leading Cyber crime experts, Jeff Floreno and Rosalind Jackson.
Jeff Floreno serves as Director of Operations and Security Strategy at Wren Solutions, where he serves as a subject matter expert on school security and delivers solutions that create safe learning environments. With over 25 years of developing violence prevention strategies, Floreno is particularly interested in the transition of bullying from the schoolyard to the workplace.
Rosalind Jackson is owner of Train Intervene Prevent™, a consulting business that caters to proactive organizations focusing on workplace violence prevention strategies. Jackson, with 20 years of developing violence prevention strategies, is passionate about minimizing the occurrence and impact of violence and bulling in today’s society.
They have been considering the questions you sent in this the month via Twitter and the blog, and have done their best to provide us with answers and advice on this critical topic.
I have included the entire interview below:
1. Besides the means of communication and/or technologies involved, what are the major differences between cyber bullying and traditional bullying?
“The act of cyberbullying is really an extension of traditional bullying, but it’s different in many ways. Because of the means of attack, cyberbullying provides a level of anonymity that traditional bullying does not. This makes it easier for an aggressor to bully someone without having direct, face-to-face contact. Unfortunately, this removes inhibitions and perhaps encourages more perpetrators who may not otherwise be courageous enough to confront victims in person.” - Rosalind Jackson
“Thanks to the Internet, computers and cell phones, cyberbullying can be relentless, occurring on a 24/7 basis as opposed to traditional bullying, which is done primarily on campus during school hours or on the bus. Bullying, by nature, is limited by physical location, whereas cyberbullying reaches into every aspect of the child’s life and offers no break from the humiliation, even at home and after hours. This often makes cyberbullying even more devastating to the victim than traditional bullying.” - Rosalind Jackson
“The reach of cyberbullying is much greater than traditional bullying. Traditional bullying may occur in front of a small group of kids, whereas insults, rumors, and unwanted photos can be spread to hundreds or even thousands in an instant using the Internet and social media outlets, exponentially increasing the damage and humiliation associated with the attack.” - Jeff Floreno
2. How prevalent is this problem? What are the emerging areas of research on cyber bullying? What are the biggest misconceptions around this issue?
“The biggest misconception about cyberbullying on the part of the perpetrators and their peers, is that it is not a big deal. Like traditional bullying, the perpetrators of cyberbullying realize that they are being mean and hurtful to the victim, but they think it is fun and that it makes them look ‘cool’ to their friends. Too often, they do not truly understand the consequences of their acts or realize that they may even be committing a crime. The tragedy of cyberbullying is the failure to understand the extent of the devastation, up to and including suicide by the victim, and a jail sentence for the perpetrator. Parents are also guilty of underestimating the gravity of cyberbullying. Many believe that it’s just ‘kids being kids’ and don’t realize how it can impact the life of their child.” – Jeff Floreno
3. Is there a particular demographic that is most at risk? Who is most likely to be a cyber bully? Who is most likely to be a victim of cyber bullying? Is there a typical “profile” ?
“In the ‘Fight Crime; Invest in Kids’ survey, 17% of 6-11 year olds and 36% of 12-17 year olds reported that someone said threatening or embarrassing things about them in e-mails, instant messages, web sites, chat rooms or text messages. Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age, a book by Kowalski, Limber and Agatston concludes that more girls engage in cyberbullying than boys. But victims span all ages, races, beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. Because there are so many motivations behind cyberbullying, there is no single profile for a victim. A child might become a victim based on jealousy of friends or other students - or because of their race, their beliefs, their size, their weight. Kids can choose to cyberbully other kids based on countless factors.” - Rosalind Jackson
4. Is there anything educators can do to prevent cyber bullying from occurring? What can school personnel do to intervene in cyber bullying?
“Awareness is a critical first step. Schools should implement anonymous reporting channels and investigate all reported incidences. Teachers, administrators and parents should work together to look for signs of kids being ostracized or withdrawn. It’s very important to treat information confidentially. Administrators, the SRO, counselors and the school nurse may all be resources for victims, providing advice and support.” – Jeff Floreno
5. If you or someone you know is being harassed, bullied, embarrassed or bothered online, what do they need to do first? What rights do "victims" of cyber crime have?
“The first step for victims is to let someone know what is happening. Resources from parents to teachers, administrators and law enforcement can help victims get the support they need and know what action can be taken.” – Jeff Floreno
To whom should parents, teachers, individuals report suspected cyber bullying, and under what circumstances? What sort of documentation should be kept, if any?
“Communication is key!!! Parents and victims should advise their School Resource Officer (SRO) of any cyberbullying attacks. It is advisable to print or download the information to share with the SRO. This information should not be deleted until the SRO or school representative has had an opportunity to assess the situation.” – Jeff Floreno
6. What are the important legal issues surrounding cyber bullying?
“Although it can be difficult for school administrators and SROs to successfully discipline students for cyberbullying that takes place off campus without the possibility of lawsuits for exceeding their authority or violating the students’ rights, it is possible for schools to work together with law enforcement, students, parents and staff to address cyberbullying. The legal challenges are obvious: the fact that bullying is taking place in cyberspace as opposed to on campus makes it difficult to assign jurisdiction. In addition, since bullying is being done in words in many cases, there is potential for ‘freedom of speech’ arguments to be made. Administrators should stay informed about state and federal laws surrounding cyberbullying, which are constantly changing due to the prevalence of the issue.” – Jeff Floreno
7. What is the best way to prevent this crime from happening? At what grade to you advocate for the implementation of cyberbullying curriculum?
“The best plan for preventing cyberbullying is threefold:
Teach respect for others. All children, starting a very young age, should be taught to show respect for others. These values should be taught presumably in the home, in a family setting and then fostered through school and other social settings. However, specific programming for kids teaching them about respect for others has been successful in some settings and helps them relate to the experience of the victim.
Share the consequences. Once students realize that their ‘fun’ can result in humiliation, devastation and even suicide, they may be less willing to commit acts of cyberbullying. In addition, if they realize the potential consequences as an attacker, such as incarceration, they may think twice before doing it.
Maintain an open-door policy – Schools that keep an open door policy and encourage anonymous reporting of incidences from victims or even bystanders, can understand the level and type of cyberbullying and other bullying at their school and can implement disciplinary and educational programming.”
– Jeff Floreno
8. Can you suggest resources or programs that would be helpful for teachers and parents in supporting these conversations and lessons?
There is some great information available online.
HRSA’s Stop Bullying Now website has a good site for parents and teachers and some good statistics.
The National Crime Prevention Council has some good information on cyberbullying
Cyberbullying Research Center
Thank you for all that you are doing to combat this issue in your own schools and communities. Please keep the dialogue going. Silence is a cyber-criminal's best weapon.
Together We Are Smarter. What's Your Take? Comment Here.