Youth Risk Online – Why Engage Youth in Bullying Prevention?

A prevalent view of education is that young people are empty vessels and schools simply open up their heads and pour in knowledge. Unfortunately this is a vision of education that is not serving us well in the 21st century. For a few students, this clearly works, but for many, this is a futile effort — made worse by an increasing focus on testing a few subjects at the expense of high-interest subjects like art and music.

By looking at students as objects to be changed, we lose many opportunities for students to be agents of change. Our society needs change agents — people who care about others, citizens, voters, creative imaginers and leaders. Where will they come from if we don’t allow young people to explore these roles?

Bullying prevention is an opportunity to engage youth in becoming change agents for an important cause, one that impacts them directly. However, lecturing them about rules or organizing pep rallies for kindness misses the mark.

To truly engage youth in bullying prevention, we must take the risk of turning some of the power over to them and allow them to be part of the solution. For example, some students can create their own presentations about bullying or participate in peer mediation. Students listen to other students much more about these subjects than adults, and identify information from peers as more truthful. Involving youth in solutions where they DO something important allows adults to steer youth towards the right answers and good behavior, instead of just lecturing. As adults and youth work together, learning and teaching merge, and youth find new empathy for others.

This kind of engagement requires long-term commitments and caring adults with talent in youth development. However, it pays off when youth develop real skills, compassion, and responsibility.


Next week I’ll be in Seattle presenting as part of a day-long pre-conference panel on Youth Risk Online: Issues and Solutions at the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) November 15-17 in Seattle, Washington. I was asked to contribute 300 words to a handout for the participants and thought I’d share them here too!


Cyberbullying event in Seattle

Next week I’ll be in Seattle presenting as part of a day-long pre-conference panel on Youth Risk Online: Issues and Solutions at the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) November 15-17 in Seattle, Washington. This is a in-depth look at a topic that’s both timely and important for everyone, not just technology using educators.

Last week I posted the details and the list of participants (I’m totally honored to be in this nationally known all-star lineup!).

If you are in the Seattle area, this is a must-attend event for anyone involved with school technology. The issue is timely and the answers aren’t simple. There is no “one size fits all” solution for building the solid policies and practices that reduce risk and expand opportunities for students in the 21st century.

Please consider attending – and if you do, say hi!


Youth risk online: International Bullying Prevention Conference – Seattle

I’ve been invited to participate in a day-long pre-conference panel on Youth Risk Online: Issues and Solutions at the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) November 15-17 in Seattle, Washington. This is a in-depth look at a topic that’s both timely and important. But I’m most excited about getting to meet the other panelists. These are some of the most respected names in this area, people who are on the front lines of making schools (and the world) a safer, better place for kids. (List below)

The focus will be on positive action and clear information – not scare tactics. Cyberbullying has become a hot topic with media and there is a lot of conflicting information for parents and educators to sift through. We hope to sort some of this out and release a document afterwards that summarizes the event.

The day will be broken up into sections covering:

  • The Challenges. The presentation of current research and on-the-ground insight into the risks being faced by young people online.
  • Positive School and Online Climate. Developing an all-school approach to interpersonal relationships that will support both a positive school climate and enhance positive online interactions.
  • Engaging Youth. Strategies to engage youth in developing the understanding and skills to ensure their competence in the online world and enlisting their assistance to others.
  • Investigations and Interventions. Addressing the specific concerns of investigating and intervening in youth risk online issues that are impacting schools.
  • The Larger Cyberworld. Expanding the discussion to include necessary insight on what is happening in other arenas including government, non-governmental organizations, initiatives addressing universal literacy, and the efforts of industry.

If you are a person responsible for your school or district’s policies in this area, this is a MUST ATTEND event.

The participants
I apologize for not linking all these names up, but it’s just too much work and they are all easily found!

Andrew Agatston is an attorney in private practice in Marietta, Georgia, whose civil trial practice includes representing crime victims, victims of bullying and other acts of aggression, and those who are otherwise intentionally harmed by others. He has also attempted to advise and assist those who have been targets of cyber bullying, encouraging non-litigation and dispute resolution as potential solutions.

Patricia Agatston is co-author of the book, Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age with Robin Kowalski, Ph.D., and Susan Limber, Ph.D. that was recently published by Wiley – Blackwell Publishers. She is also co-author of the Cyber Bullying Curriculum for Grades 6 – 12 and the Cyber Bullying Prevention Curriculum for Grades 3 – 5. Patti is a certified trainer and technical assistance consultant for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and a Licensed Professional Counselor and Prevention Specialist with the Cobb County School District’s Prevention/ Intervention Center in Marietta, Georgia. She is also on the board of the International Bullying Prevention Association.

Warren J. Blumenfeld, Ed.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa specializing in Multicultural and International Curriculum Studies; & Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies. He is co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice; Co-Editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States; Editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price; and Co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life.

Linda Burch leads Common Sense Media’s education, program and strategy development efforts and has been the architect of the organization’s digital media strategy. In this role, she is coordinating the efforts of researchers and risk prevention professionals, along with professionals in instructional design and parent education to create new resources to support universal education for students and parents on digital media literacy. Linda received her MBA from Stanford University and her bachelor’s degree from Yale University.

Anne Collier is editor of, co-director of, and founder and executive director of Net Family News. She co-authored with’s Larry Magid the first parents’ guide to teen social networking, MySpace Unraveled (Peachpit Press, 2006). She served as co-chair of the Obama administration’s Online Safety & Technology Working Group, which sent its report to Congress in June 2010; on the Harvard Berkman Center’s 2008 Internet Safety Technical Task Force; and currently serves on the advisory boards of several national and international nonprofit child advocacy organizations.

Det. Frank Dannahey is a 29 year veteran of Law Enforcement; assigned to the Youth Division of the Rocky Hill, Connecticut Police Department for the past 20 years. Frank holds a BS Degree and received numerous State/Federal training in Child Computer Crimes & Exploitation. He has done numerous trainings on Internet safety topics for the past 11 years; both locally and nationally. His expertise resulted in him being featured on several National TV Broadcasts and National Publications.

Stan Davis worked with abused and grieving children and trained Child Protective Workers. He designed and implemented training for rape crisis centers and collaborated with police to develop interventions for domestic abuse. Since 1985 he has worked as a school counselor at all grade levels. Since the mid-1990s, he has worked to prevent bullying. He has written two books: Schools Where Everyone Belongs and Empowering Bystanders in Bullying Prevention. In 1985 he became a school counselor. After working in High School and Middle School he moved to the James H. Bean elementary school in Sidney, Maine, where he continues to work three days a week. With Dr. Charisse Nixon, Stan is co-leading the Youth Voice Research Project, which has collected information from more than 11,000 young people in the United States about what works and what doesn’t work in bullying prevention.

Mike Donlin has been involved in education for over 30 years, having taught all grade levels from kindergarten through university courses. Mike was with Seattle Public Schools from 1980 until 2010. He taught in classrooms and supervised a variety of programs throughout the District. He was a Program Administrator with Seattle Public Schools, with the job title of “Senior Program Consultant.” His position was split between the Learning and Teaching and the Operations/Tech Services sides of the district. In that capacity, Mike managed Federal Title IID Enhancing Education Through Technology programs and worked in Prevention-Intervention bully prevention programs, with an emphasis on internet safety and cyberbullying. Mike has shifted his activities into research, consulting, and professional development related to youth risk online and educational technology concerns.

Elizabeth Englander is a professor of Psychology & the founder & Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College, which delivers free anti-bullying programs, resources, & research for the state of Massachusetts. A National Merit Scholar & Phi Beta Kappan, she is a nationally recognized expert in the area of bullying & cyberbullying & the author of “Understanding Violence” & more than 3 dozen articles.

Dr. Lance Gibbon is a 19-year public school educator in Washington State. Dr. Gibbon is a former music teacher in the Lake Washington School District, where he also served as assistant principal and technology staff developer. He moved to Anacortes in 2000, where he worked as an elementary principal for 7 years. Dr. Gibbon earned his doctorate in education from Seattle Pacific University in 2007 and has taught School Law for administrators as an SPU adjunct professor. Since 2007, Dr. Gibbon has been the Assistant Superintendent in the Oak Harbor School District.

Sameer Hinduja is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University and Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center ( He works nationally and internationally with the private and public sector to reduce online victimization and its real-world consequences. His research has been featured in hundreds of print and online articles around the world, as well as on radio and TV. Sameer has written two books, his latest entitled Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (co-authored with Justin W. Patchin), and his interdisciplinary research is widely published in a number of peer-reviewed academic journals.

Lisa Jones is a Research Assistant Professor of Psychology at UNH. She has over 10 years experience conducting research on child victimization and evaluating national, state, and community-level responses to youth. Lisa recently received a grant from NIJ to conduct a process evaluation of Internet safety prevention education programs. She is author or co-author on several papers on Internet crimes against children as well as numerous papers on other aspects of child victimization.

Rebekah Sills Lamm is a Youth Education Specialist at Texas School Safety Center. She trains a variety of community stakeholders including parents, educators, administrators, counselors, law enforcement, and students on the issues surrounding Internet safety, cyberbullying, and the importance of cultural inclusion. Rebekah believes that every student deserves safe, quality, equitable education, and has dedicated her career to making that a reality for Texas children. In order for our youth to do their absolute best, they need the healthiest, safest schools possible. Rebekah has worked with youth in some capacity since 2002. She received her M.A. in American Studies from Baylor University in 2007 and taught at the college level prior to joining TxSSC in 2008.

Larry Magid. Ed.D., is a technology journalist and an Internet safety advocate. He serves as onair technology analyst for CBS News, is co-director of and founder of He writes columns that appear on CNET News,, Huffington Post and the San Jose Mercury News. Larry has written or co-written numerous books including MySpace Unraveled: A parents guide to teen social networking. He’s a board member of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and a member of the of the Obama administration’s Online Safety & Technology Working Group, where he chairs the education sub-committee.

Sylvia Martinez is President of Generation YES, evangelizing student involvement in education reform through technology integration and service learning. GenYES students use their digital age knowledge to make their schools better places for learning by helping teachers, peer mentoring, and doing tech support. Prior to joining Generation YES, Sylvia developed video and educational games and was an aerospace engineer. She holds a Master’s in Educational Technology from Pepperdine and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UCLA.

Donnel Nunes is a behavioral health specialist in Hawaii. His focus is exploring ways to incorporate technology and media into mental health practice. He regularly uses film, music, and other creative software to foster engagement, increase disclosure, and collect data. Recently, he published a paper titled, “Technology and the Adolescent: Pairing Modern Media and Technology with Mental Health Practice.” He is currently a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Hawai‘i.

Justin Patchin is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He has presented on various topics relating to juvenile justice, school violence, policy and program evaluation, and adolescent Internet use and misuse at academic conferences and training seminars across the United States. His most recent book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (coauthored with Sameer Hinduja), examines the ways adolescents use technology to cause harm to their peers (and what adults can do about it).

Kim P. Sanchez, Sr. Audience Marketing Manager, Microsoft Corporation. Kim Sanchez is a Senior Audience Marketing Manager in the Trustworthy Computing group at Microsoft Corporation. She is responsible for strategic communications to worldwide consumer and government audiences on Microsoft’s work in computer privacy, security and online safety.

Robin Sax is a former LA County Prosecutor. Robin authored six books, including “Predators and Child Molesters.” Robin is a sought after speaker on child & internet safety, cyberbullying, and the criminal justice system – to name a few topics. Robin has appeared on dozens of national shows, including: Dr. Phil show, Tyra Banks, CNN Larry King, HLN Nancy Grace, Today Show and many others! Robin is now an NBC Legal Analyst.

Nancy Willard has degrees in special education and law. She taught “at risk” children, practiced computer law, and was an educational technology consultant before focusing her professional attention on issues of youth risk online and effective management of student Internet use. Nancy is author of two books: Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats and Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, numerous articles, and professional development videos.


This is going to be one amazing and informative day!

If you are a person responsible for your school or district’s policies in this area, this is a MUST ATTEND event. Hope to see you there!