As previously mentioned in our School Safety Information & Reminders article, Lauderdale County Schools will be communicating ways that all stakeholders can help. Improving school safety involves a strong stakeholder partnership between district and school administrators, school personnel, families, and students. This begins by raising awareness and educating our community on school safety risks and how they can be resolved.
One of the most prevalent causes of school safety concerns are instances of bullying, specifically cyberbullying. Cyberbullying takes place over digital devices (cellphones, tablets, etc.) and through various channels including text messages, apps, social media, and other platforms where people can interact and share content. Shared content that is negative, harmful, false, or mean about an individual is cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in several ways. First, it can occur persistently, as the use of digital devices offers continuous communication 24/7. Second, the shared information is not only public, but also permanent, despite what many social media apps claim. Because shared content is public and permanent, it can affect many future-focused opportunities, such as college admissions or employment. Lastly, cyberbullying is not as overt as traditional bullying due to its digital nature. This means that comments or actions often go unnoticed by adults and peers.
Bullying and cyberbullying are a growing national trend and are the cause of many instances of school violence. However, there are measures that families can take to stand against bullying. Families are encouraged to talk to their children about the importance of being kind and considerate of others. We appreciate you supporting and encouraging kind behavior and communication among students. Additional resources are provided below for families.
What Is Cyberbullying - https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it
Cyberbullying Tips from ConnectSafely.org
- Don’t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?
- Don’t retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.
- Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if it’s minor stuff, in case things escalate.
- Talk to a trusted adult. You deserve backup. It’s always good to involve a parent but – if you can’t – a school counselor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If you’re really nervous about saying something, see if there’s a way to report the incident anonymously at school.
- Block the bully. If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it’s in chat, leave the “room.”
- Be civil. Even if you don’t like someone, it’s a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other person’s level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
- Don’t be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That’s needed in this world.
- Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. It’s time to let bullies know their behavior is unacceptable – cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can’t stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.