In Week 3, my smile disappeared, and in Week 4, my frown still exists. However, the nature of my frown is due to the content in which I was exposed to. It was powerful, frightening, and motivating. This week was overwhelming as an educator and even more as a parent of young children. That being said, I continue to expand on my understanding of digital citizenship and dangers that present themselves when the proper supports are not in place. Week to week, I continue to model myself as a learner to my fellow administrators. I brought up many of the factors discussed in class that we do not have in place in our district. Once again, I continue to follow the theme that Curran (2012) found to be significant in creating a productive and safe learning environment. In this case, the safety is to preserve the integrity of our learners socially, emotionally, and physically from the dangers of cyberbullying.
Bullying is typically seen in schools, harassment can happen anywhere, but harnessing the power of technology has created a new way to invoke pain and suffering on others. Specifically, Hinduja and Patchin (2015) focus their attention on adolescents and their interactions with peers. This is important for me as I work in a K-6 environment. We must lay the foundation of safety and understanding to approach adults with concerns. The term cyberbullying has been described as willful and repeated harm on an individual. The key is that it is inflicted through the use of computers, cellular phones, and other forms of electronic communication.
As with most forms of abuse, there are multiple individuals involved in regards to whom a cyberbullying incident can affect. First, the victim is the priority during the healing process, but they also must have the knowledge to report concerns, no matter how small they may appear. One of the issues with cyberbullying is that the victim may feel they can handle it on their own, or that it will stop. This is a slippery slope and it creates more problems which affect the families of the victim as they experience guilt and regret for not noticing issues if something violent or drastic were to occur. Then you have the bully or bullies themselves. These adolescents need help too, and it is the job of schools to make them aware of the dangers and consequences of conducting yourself in such a manner online. With children, we need to prioritize our fight against cyberbullying in a proactive manner as opposed to only punishing the act.
During this week, I also faced a lot of challenges I see in my future as a parent. The case studies were difficult to read. Ryan’s story was especially painful to watch the videos presented on his website. Yet, his family has done a tremendous job to make a difference in this world for the future. The trauma that family, school, and community faced is one that I would hope to only read about and learn from. I find myself looking at my children and making sure they are educated. I will walk into my schools differently after this week. I find that to be powerful, and the most important aspect of this course. This week may not have been designed in the COVA model, but I certainly got what I needed from it and it will shape my mindset moving forward.
- Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from icitizen_paper_M_Curran.pdf
- Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.