Monday, February 20, 2012

Students Leading the Way

One of the greatest challenges for young people must be to step fully into managing their own lives and taking responsibility for the things that directly affect them. It was for me. It is for my son. And I recall as a high school student government leader (many years ago!), my friends and I did exactly that. We lobbied school administrators, collaborated with school district trustees, and even took our issues (and grievances) to the State Board of Education. We learned it is one thing to have adults manage our lives for us and quite another to try to manage them ourselves...for ourselves.

Personal and collective empowerment.

And today, the world is very different than when I was a student. For many reasons. Especially because of the Internet.

I have written before about the cyber-bullying experience we had to manage that consumed our son and our family several years ago (as a seventh grader, he was the victim of a nasty and threatening on-line bullying cycle perpetrated by some classmates). Now that he has been accepted to college for the Fall term, this middle school nightmare seems so long ago! I am reminded of the impact of that experience, however, on a daily basis. I see the perpetrators of the bullying of my son in our small community. I work with the limitations of the restrictions placed on Internet accessibility resulting from the bullying incident and those that followed for other kids. I am saddened by the threat to innocence and easygoing social development because of the seductive vastness and anonymity of the virtual world.

Just late last week I received a letter from Mrs. Svensson, a school teacher in Colorado, whose 7th grade technology students found my website and resource links about cyber-bullying. She acknowledged that the students found my site of value and asked if I would help them continue to get the word out about the problem of on-line safety and cyber-bullying by posting the resource links they researched for their assignment. I am happy to do so!

Thanks, kids, for taking responsibility for your own lives and for trying to make the lives of your classmates who are bullied, harassed, ridiculed, teased, threatened, victimized, taunted, annoyed a little bit happier, easier to navigate by providing valuable resources from which to seek help, and helping to make your school environment and the lives of your classmates safer and happier.

Here are the valuable links provided by these courageous young people:

Bella Lyn
offers the website (although at the time of this posting, the website appears to be having some technological challenges; I'll update when possible):

offers this resource: On-line Security Guide for Parents and Kids

Ben M. offers the site:

Derrik offers resources from this guide:

Angela P. offers the site:

Sara offers more great resources to take from this research guide hosted by the US Marines:

And Mrs. Svensson provides some valuable tips in her e-mail signature:

Parents-Quick Cyber-Safety Tips

1. Make sure your child does not spend all of his/her time on the computer. People, not computers, should be their best friends and companions.

2. Teach them never to meet an online friend offline unless you are with them.

3. Teach them what information they can share with others online and what they can't (like telephone numbers, address, their full name and school)

The problem of cyber-bullying is not going away anytime soon, sadly. In fact, it may be getting worse. It is certainly more tragic with the increase in teen suicides resulting from cyber-bullying and other forms of bullying and harassment. Bullying today is meaner, more threatening, and creates a deeper despair and marginalization for these young people. While parents and educators can do extraordinary things to mitigate the problem, young people can also lead the effort for themselves.

Your lives depend on it!

P.S. There are more useful links on the sidebar of this blog and on this link to my website. Please call me if I can support you with your cyber-bullying challenges.