Helpful bullying and cyberbullying model policies and resources from Washington State

The State of Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has a very helpful website on resources for schools around the issues of youth online safety and bullying.

  • Resources on bullying and harassment
  • Slideshows useful for staff training
  • Model policies and procedures
  • Helpful links and reports

Of course these resources conform to Washington State laws, but might be a helpful starting point for any district looking for guidance in these matters. OSPI has recently updated these resources to reflect the latest legal advice for schools and a balanced view of bullying, cyber and otherwise, without scare tactics. Their approach is a cycle of “prevention, preparedness, response, recovery” rather than waiting for a crisis to strike. Good advice!

This link is courtesy of Mike Donlin, a program supervisor with the OSPI School Safety Center focusing on bullying & cyberbullying prevention and intervention. Previously, Mike was a consultant to the Seattle Public Schools’ prevention-intervention services, and spearheaded creation of a new cyberbullying curriculum for Seattle teachers.

It’s great that Washington’s OSPI is acknowledging that student’s digital lives are important and schools need policies that teach and inform, not ban and vilify.


Survey reveals disconnect in online safety education

Survey reveals disconnect in online safety education (eSchool News)

  • 81% of school administrators, including principals and superintendents, said they believe their districts are adequately preparing students in online safety, security, and ethics
  • 51% of teachers agree
  • 33% of teachers said they believe their school or district requires a cyber safety curriculum be taught in the classroom setting
  • 68% administrators said they believe the same thing


I think what this shows is that the devil is in the details. Blanket policies about teaching online safety, security, and ethics get lost by the time these policies get to the classroom level. Now stir in the fact that 36% of teachers in this survey say they have received zero hours of district-provided training in cyber security, cyber safety, and cyber ethics with an additional 40% receiving between one and three hours of training in their school districts. Add a dollop of confusion about laws, policies, and the ethics of situations that didn’t even exist a year or two ago. Sift in parents who believe all sorts of different things about what school should allow kids to do online, and bake in an oven of stress about standardized testing in core subjects with no time for “extras” like citizenship, digital or others.

In fact, last year, Julie Evans of Project Speak Up said that students reported to her that teachers who get training in Internet safety restrict Internet access even more out of fear and confusion.

This is a recipe for confusion and confusion leads to paralysis.

I think the answer is evolving towards shared decision-making at all levels (including students), accepting that this is a rapidly changing situation and can’t be “finished”, and moving towards including these lessons into larger programs that address ethics, safety, civics, and community norms of behavior. The more we ghettoize “cyber” safety and ethics, the more likely it is to be misunderstood and dropped for lack of time.


The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia

This video is a talk given by Dr. David Finkelhor, is the Director of the Crimes against Children Research Center, Co-Director of the Family Research Laboratory and Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, entitled “The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia”

Is the internet really an amplifier for youth deviance, bad behavior, and risk? Or is it just the opposite? Are we simply applying age-old paranoia about youth (juvenoia) to the newest technology and coming to all the wrong conclusions? Could the Internet be in fact promoting better, healthier culture, identity exploration with less risk, and increased accountability for personal actions? Dr. David Finkelhor takes on these questions with research, facts, historical perspectives — and connections with the fields of child development, human behavior, and psychology.

This talk is well worth watching – especially if you are dealing with parents or colleagues who take it on face value that the Internet is making children stupid, cheapening culture, and is the onramp to deviant behavior and predators.

The Internet, Youth Deviance and the Problem of Juvenoia on Vimeo on Vimeo

This video provides a lot of food for thought:

  • Why do we label and blame kids for normal behavior?
  • Is a fear OF children masquerading as a fear FOR children?
  • Is the Internet similar to other technologies that caused social changes (like cars, TV, phones, etc.)? Or is it vastly different?
  • Is “stranger danger”, sexting crackdowns, and technophobia really about protecting kids or is it political grandstanding and a way to sell fear-based products?
  • Why do we ignore the many indications of better, healthier, connected, smarter youth and believe all too easily that children today are narcissistic, alienated, and addicted to techno-drivel?

Love your thoughts!


Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project

The Eisenhower School Internet Safety Project began with Tech Team teachers, Angelo Bonavitacola, Marc DeBlock and Harold Olejarz, joining forces to develop a sixth-grade Internet course to address these issues and to encourage students to be active learners by using the latest technology to learn about the latest technologies. To produce the videos, the students view online videos, visit web sites and discuss Internet safety topics. The students begin by developing a storyboard in ComicLife, a MAC OS program designed to create comics. Students then use digital cameras to capture images that are added to their comics. When the comics are completed the pages are exported to iMovie. In iMovie the students add voice-overs, sound effects, titles and transitions to complete the Internet Safety project.

Many of the student videos have been or will be shown on ETV, Eisenhower’s morning TV show. ETV is broadcast to the entire school and the town of Wyckoff, NJ. In addition, the videos are posted on a resource web page that includes links to sites with information and other videos on Internet safety. This Internet Safety web site was also used in a presentation to seventh-grade parents. During the presentation it was suggested that parents watch the videos with their students and use the experience to begin a dialog on the issues raised in the videos. (via LearniT-TeachiT)

This is a great example of the “technology ecology” that I’ve been talking about. Sure the students could have learned to make cartoons in Comic Life or how to use iMovie. They could have gotten lessons on Internet Safety. Parents could have been invited in to hear a lecture from an expert on cybersafety.

But instead, all these came together in a way that is greater than sum of the individual parts. They used an authentic problem to build internal capacity and learn how to learn.

In this school, students learned about Internet Safety AND how to communicate it to others, reinforcing the lessons and making them more relevant. They learned to use a technology tool for an authentic purpose – to teach others and engage the whole community in the complex issues of Internet safety. They learned that they have the power to learn new things and transform their community. They learned that their voice is important and that their parents and community will listen to them if they know their stuff.

Way to go Eisenhower!