Working Together to Prevent Bullying


Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications – Privacy & Online Safety
 
As a large technology company with a significant online presence, Microsoft believes it’s our responsibility to help make the Internet a safer place for people, including children, to learn, communicate, play and grow. Of the risks facing children online, cyberbullying is a growing concern for both parents and educators.
 
Today, bullies have capitalized on the availability of much more discreet and efficient tools with which to badger their victims, going beyond the intended uses for which they were designed. Sadly, as we’ve seen in recent news reports, there have been a number of examples where youth who were victimized resorted to taking their own lives.
 
As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to help keep people safer online, I will deliver a keynote address at the International Bullying Prevention Association’s Seventh Annual Conference. At the time, I will also release new research highlighting the extent of this problem.
 
Microsoft conducted a survey of parents and educators across the U.S. Two in five parents report that their child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Parents and educators rank cyberbullying midrange among school problems, but ahead of issues like drugs, smoking and violence. Seventy-six percent of educators believe cyberbullying is a bigger concern than smoking or drugs.
 
Clearly, parents have a significant role to play in helping to address this issue — according to our research, 53 percent of parents and 40 percent of educators identify parents as the party primarily responsible for helping to keep kids safe from cyberbullying. Parents should be prepared to oversee their child’s online usage and communicate clear rules and consequences for bullying behavior. Ninety-eight percent of parents seeking assistance from parental-control software identify that technology as one of the most effective steps in helping to curb the risk of cyberbullying.
 
Educators must also play an important role. Those who have taken steps to address cyberbullying in their schools believe those steps have been effective.  Our research shows that among schools that do have policies in place to address incidents of cyberbullying, 89 percent of parents and 88 percent of educators believe they are effective. Training was seen as the most effective, but is often available only at schools where a formal policy is in place. 
 
More needs to be done to get teachers the training they need to help address this important issue. The organization iKeepSafe is preparing the rollout of “Generation Safe,” a new suite of tools for teachers, administrators, and other school staff, law enforcement, parents and students. We think efforts like these are a step in the right direction.
 
The technology industry also has a responsibility to work with parents, educators, governments, law enforcement agencies and children’s advocacy groups to help create a safer computing environment for children. For our part, Microsoft offers considerable resources for families and educators in our Online Safety, Security and Privacy Education Center at www.microsoft.com/protect. We also participate in industry coalitions and support child advocacy organizations like the Family Online Safety Institute and LOOKBOTHWAYS
 
Cyberbullying is really no different than the other online safety issues we seek to address at Microsoft.  No one company, organization or entity can resolve these challenges single-handedly.  What’s truly needed is a collaborative effort to pursue a combination of education, enforcement, policies and technology tools.  These issues are everyone’s responsibility, and everyone has a role to play to help end cyberbullying. 

Comments (2)

  1. Is it possable to prevent bullying? says:

    Is it Possible to Prevent Bullying?

    by Art Gib of Not All Prisons Have Bars (7-Sep-2010)

    Bullying has become a larger problem in recent years than ever before. Bullying is not only a physical issue anymore. Most children are verbally abused and the mental scars can last just as long and run just as deep as the physical ones. With social networking websites, like Facebook and Myspace, available, bullying has become even easier than ever before. Children can now be bullied over the internet, at school, or in sports teams. It is important to recognize the signs of bullying, even over the internet.

    We have all seen the most recent news stories outlining extreme cases of bullying. In recent years, as well as in past decades, bullying often does not end in simple bullying. Bullying most often leads to depression, fear, and feelings of hopelessness. After the bullying has ended, the internal scars may not have healed. Studies have shown that adults who were bullied as children have lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression than those who were not. Often times, bullying can even lead to serious or fatal injuries, or even suicide. It is more important now than ever before to try and find ways to prevent bullying before it is too late. Just as in coping with ADHD, identifying and coping with bullying earlier in a child's life gives them greater opportunity to overcome it.

    To avoid being bullied in the first place, one must do all they can to prevent being seen as a target. Things that a parent may find cute can be recognized as an easy target by bullies. For instance, “cute” beanies or hats may be cute for a parent, but will be an easy target for bullies to pick on. Avoid forcing your child to wear something to school that they know other children will make fun of.

    Using good posture, voice and eye contact can help show confidence and detract bullies. If your child is experiencing bullying, it is important that they avoid isolated places. Often times, they can also deflect bullies with humor or by changing the subject. Reasoning with a bully is not usually an option. It often makes bullies even more upset and can do more harm than good.

    In order to try to prevent bullying, first one must be able to recognize it. If your child says they are being bullied, then they most likely are. It is important to take your child seriously and alert the proper school authorities, as well as heavily monitor your children’s actions and behavior.

    Although bullying may not be completely preventable, it is important that you recognize the signs of bullying before it is too late. Bullying is a serious problem and should not be taken lightly.

  2. Ellena Smith says:

    We parents should pay attention with our kids if they are being bullied, every time our children get home from school and ask them such as "how was the school." Parents should sue the school or school district, and then the school district will look at the possible legal bills, settle and implement a zero tolerance bullying policy. I would like to share this article by anationofmoms about a service that can protect your children. You might find it interesting: anationofmoms.com/…/protect-your-family-giveaway.html.