Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Anti-Social Media: Educators and Parents Take on Cyberbullying for "Spirit Day"

Ken Ellis

Former Executive Producer, video , Edutopia

Facebook and Twitter are turning purple today in support of "Spirit Day," an initiative of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Facebook and Twitter are turning purple today in support of "Spirit Day," an initiative of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The purpose is "to honor the teenagers who have taken their own lives in recent weeks," and "to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them." One can only hope that community support and the focus on cyber-bullying will remain after the social media mega sites return to their true colors tomorrow.

It is a sad irony that Tyler Clementi left a suicide note on his Facebook page after his roommate used a Twitter account to expose a private encounter in a dorm room at Rutgers University. Rutgers is home to the prominent Social-Emotional Learning Laboratory, headed by one of Edutopia's distinguished bloggers, Maurice Elias.

For many years Dr. Elias consulted with another one of our bloggers, Tony Bencivenga, former principal of Ben Franklin Middle School in upstate New Jersey.

Ten years ago, we documented Ben Franklin's comprehensive social/emotional efforts. Thanks in large measure to digital technology, a lot has happened in a decade, and not all of it has been positive.

Earlier this year, Ben Franklin's new principal, Tony Orsini, shot an email to parents that made national headlines. In response to several cyberbullying incidents at the school, he wrote: There is absolutely NO reason for any middle school student to be part of a social networking site. He suggested to parents that if their children were targeted by cyberbullies, they should "IMMEDIATELY GO TO THE POLICE!"

While banning cell phones and calling in the cops might be options of last resort, they won't do much to improve a school's culture. Instead, organizations like CASEL believe that teaching and evaluating SEL skills - lessons for the heart - are as important, if not more so, than lessons for the mind. And, no surprise, a positive school environment leads to higher test scores.

"We need to teach the Three 'Cs,'" says motivational speaker, Dr. Michael Pritchard. "Connectivity, community, and compassion." Pritchard is often flown in to schools, to pick up the emotional pieces after a suicide or other school tragedy. "We need to stop focusing on test scores, blaming teachers and parents, and start teaching kids how to love and care for each other."

What's the most effective way to deal with cyberbullying and/or teen suicide in school? Edutopia has some resources for teachers and parents; we hope you'll share what has worked for you.

Cyberbullying and Teen Suicide Resources

Articles

Videos

Group Discussions

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

blog 2014 Nerdy Teacher Holiday Shopping Guide

Last comment 16 hours 38 min ago in Technology Integration

blog What Edtech Can You Trust?

Last comment 1 day 14 hours ago in Technology Integration

Discussion 10 Tips for Assessment: #NaNoWriMo and Beyond

Last comment 2 days 1 hour ago in Project-Based Learning

Discussion Ideas for a single iPad classroom?

Last comment 4 days 16 hours ago in Technology Integration

Discussion BYOD: Can it be a reality??

Last comment 1 week 2 days ago in BYOD

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.