Before the state Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive anti-school bullying bill Tuesday, Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) noted that bullying extends to cyberspace.
A bullying expert says a study in the Journal of School Health shows the number of kids who’ve been the victim of insults online, mirrors those who’ve dealt with face to face insults, “It’s the same experience but just in a new venue,” says Amy Bellmore, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at UW-Madison.
Bellmore says young people report knowledge of methods to prevent cyber bullying, such as changing screen names or concealing their online status; but don’t take advantage of these things.
Bellmore also says kids are reluctant to tell their folks about cyber bullying out of fear they’ll lose their cell phone or internet access. She suggests parents take a proactive role by monitoring kids’ internet activity or asking if they’ve been harassed online.
Meanwhile the Department of Public Instruction has been recognizing the need to address cyber bullying. “Cyber bullying is already a component of the anti-bullying curriculum DPI has created, and was a major piece of the update from the original curriculum released in 2007,” says spokesman Patrick Gasper.
The Senate bill requires DPI develop a model policy on bullying, including reporting and investigation. The legislation also requires school districts to develop some type of plans to deal with bullying.