In the article, “Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric” by Danah Boyd, it raised some interesting points about language used to discuss bullying. Boyd stated that many students may not identify themselves as being bullied, or being a bully, because of the language used by educators and parents may not resonate with students.
If language used to talk about bullies and their victims are not registering with students, then maybe it’s time to try a different approach. Many students may not be aware that one negative comment on the internet, is an act of bullying. One of my classmates (Thanks, Milly!) brought up the issue that there are so many “gray areas” of bullying.
One of those gray areas is to stand by and watch bullying happen without speaking up to stop it. By watching your friend harass someone online, you are part of the act as well. Many students may not be attacked by cyber bullies, or may not be a bully either. By creating this bully vs. victim language, students who fall somewhere in between may not feel the need to listen or take responsibility within their school culture.
One way to create effective change, would be to have an event in the library. Showing positive ways to interact online, through social media, and to extend that to the physical school, can be empowering rather than a negative “don’t do this” message.
For my event, I would first have a week long cyber bullying awareness program at the library. My event would be held at a middle school. During that week, I would have “ambassador” volunteers, who will have the option to use their social media accounts to send positive messages to classmates. I would also have post it notes that act as “twitter” messages to emphasize the act of sending kind messages. In those messages, students would use the hash tag and then in 140 characters or less, write something positive about a classmate, friend, or student activity group (soccer team, debate club, etc.) and stick those notes on people’s lockers or in the bathroom, and places around the school, etc. Throughout the week, there would be books that discuss bullying, and helpful information displayed in the library.
At the end of the week, there would be a final event. At that event, there would be a talent show. Before the talent show, I would show a video or have a speaker come in and talk about cybe rbullying and what to do if you are bullied. The talent show would be a way to emphasize how each student has something special to share, and as a school we should be building people’s talents up, and making them feel good about themselves, instead of cutting them down. At the end of the event, people will go around the room and either write down or verbally share a positive comment about someone’s performance.
Here’s a video I saw on the Today Show that shows a student in Iowa City using social media to empower his classmates. This helped inspire my idea for my event. Enjoy!