Cyberbullying Prevention and Response: Expert Perspectives
reviewed by Billie Gastic - February 23, 2012
Title: Cyberbullying Prevention and Response: Expert Perspectives
Author(s): Justin W. Patchin & Sameer Hinduja (eds.)
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0415892376, Pages: 224, Year: 2011
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Nearly 1 million youth between the ages of 12 and 18 have been cyberbullied (Robers, Zhang, & Truman, 2010). This anthology, co-edited by two widely published and recognized experts in online safety, is an ambitious compendium of the latest research and resources related to cyberbullying.
Early chapters describe how the generational technology gap between many adults and youth magnify the challenge in educating adults about what cyberbullying is and how it can be addressed. In Chapter 1, Anne Collier depicts a modern, living Internet where young people (and others) contribute and consume both informational and behavioral content in a social space that youth do not perceive as being separate from their real life off-line. The dynamic nature of the web is one of the reasons why Collier recommends creating cultures of self-regulation [emphasis in original] which include critical thinking and respect for others at home and school (p.3) as a strategy to protect youth from cyberbullying and other online risks.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 present perspectives drawn from extant research, the law, and youths own experiences with cyberbullying. In Chapter 2, Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja review dozens of recent studies on cyberbullying. They address the implications of differences in how cyberbullying is defined on estimates of its prevalence. They identify three core attributes of cyberbullying: the use of technology, the presence of harm, and repeated occurrence. Patchin and Hinduja describe the forms that cyberbullying can take and provide data on trends by race/ethnicity, sex, and grade in school. They also provide detailed summaries of the research on the socio-emotional and behavioral consequences of cyberbullying, and its relationship with other forms of victimization, among other topics.
In Chapter 3, Nancy Willard outlines the school-related legal issues that pertain to cyberbullying, including search and seizure, free speech, and district liability. One of the central questions in determining many of the issues regarding students privacy is whether schools are to be considered public or private places. While Willard remains agnostic on this issue in this chapter, she does urge schools to articulate policies that clarify this determination. The chapter concludes with a checklist for school officials to use when developing policies related to cyberbullying. Recommendations include standards for a personal digital device search and seizure policy and for taking pictures or other digital recordings at school.
Youths views on cyberbullying are the focus on Chapter 4. Patricia Agatston, Robin Kowalski, and Susan Limber draw on data from their own interviews and focus groups with adolescents, as well as findings from other research studies, to depict youths experiences with cyberbullying (as victims, perpetrators, and bystanders). Youths experiences fall into five categories: harassment, denigration, outing and trickery, impersonation or masquerading, and cyber-stalking. Youth acknowledged that sharing passwords with friends increases the odds of being impersonated online (or being misled by an impersonator). Relatedly, Richtel (2012) recently described the popularity of sharing passwords as a romantic gesture among youth and young adults.
Youth admitted that most incidents of cyberbullying are not reported to adults. Some of the reluctance to report is due to youths concerns about having their access to technology restricted or being admonished by their parents for wasting time online. However, many youth also reported that they do not come forward about cyberbullying because they do not think that most adults know how to respond, especially when the perpetrator is difficult to identify. For their schools, youth seek trustworthy adults who are willing to listen as youths describe their experiences before responding. At home, youths want their parents and guardians to be active and engaged in their use of technology, but as supervision and not snooper vision (p. 68).
The second half of the book contains chapters that provide specific, practice-oriented guidance and recommendations for various stakeholder communities. In Chapter 5, Russell Sabella provides practical advice to school counselors about their role in combating cyberbullying. He describes how school counselors can inform school and classroom culture and policies and highlights several specific counseling and therapeutic techniques and strategies that clinicians can use when working with youth and their families.
In Chapter 6, Stan Davis and Charisse Nixon emphatically state that [t]elling youth not to tattle is one of the most harmful things an adult can do when dealing with peer victimization (p. 98). Peer and adult bystanders can have a profound and positive influence in the lives of (cyber)bullying victims. In many cases, positive bystander action can thwart attempts at harm. However, bystanders can also provide critical support by spending time talking to, listening to, and encouraging victims through their experiences.
The next three chapters offer suggestions to educators and parents. In Chapter 7, Mike Donlin reflects on his experiences collaborating with Seattle Public Schools to develop a cyberbullying curriculum that embodied a three-tiered approach of prevention, prevention-intervention, and intervention. Readers will find an exhaustive, annotated list of resources to consult in their efforts to promote the safe use of technology in Jenny Walkers Chapter 8. The list includes print and digital media and instructional materials. When choosing curricula, Walker recommends that schools look for materials that include a focus on relationships, behaviors, and the role of bystanders and peer and adult mentors, link to national standards, have applications across grade levels, and encourage youth to be leaders for positive change.
Parents and educators are the audience for Chapter 9, and Elizabeth Englander offers targeted advice to both groups. Educators are guided through ways to assert jurisdiction in cases of off-campus cyberbullying. Englander also addresses the concerns of parents of cyberbullies and their victims, providing tips on how to respond appropriately to the needs of their children. Hinduja and Patchin end the book with a description of the varied roles of school resource officers (SROs) in curbing and responding to cyberbullying among students. The books appendices include a summary of the status of states current (cyber)bullying laws and another list of recommended cyberbullying curricula.
The volumes ten chapters cover considerable ground, providing an overview of what the research says about the forms and consequences of cyberbullying and the applicable legal landscape, and several annotated inventories of best practices for school adults, such as school principals, guidance counselors, and school resource officers. The writing is accessible, making it a valuable primer for a wide range of interested readers.
Richtel, M. (2012, January 17). Young, in love and sharing everything, including a password. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com.
Robers, S., Zhang, J., & Truman, J. (2010). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2010 (NCES 2011-002/NCJ 230812). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.