Monday, April 18, 2011

Journal 8: Point/Counterpoint: Should Schools Be Held Responsible for Cyberbullying?

Bogacz, Renee, and Miguel Gómez Gordillo (2011). Point/Counterpoint: Should Schools Be Held Responsible for Cyberbullying? Learning and Leading with Technology, 38(6) retrieved from

Bogacz and Gordillo's article goes well beyond addressing anything specifically digital. The article explores the prevelant societal problem of bullying in general in American culture, including schoolyard bullying. In addition to emphasizing the importance schoolteachers, administrators, and students themselves who witness or are victims of cyberbullying, the first half of the article, namely Bogacz's portion, stipulates that parents closely monitor and check everything that their children do in the online world. Bogacz places the onus of responsibility on the schools to deal with cyberbullying, while Gordillo's response in the second half of the article is to place the onus of responsibility on parents, because children who bully, either in the digital world or the real world, tend to do so because they have not been taught how to respect others. The root of that problem is how their parents, or whoever has raised them, has taught them how to behave. Schools can only do so much. Parents and students themselves have to meet them halfway.

Question 1: What can someone like me do about cyberbullying in my future classroom?

When my students use the Internet to carry out class assignments--such as having them having engage in online discussions or write responses to prompts, I may deduce points if they are disrespectful to me or their fellow students. Or, I may simply ask them to keep redoing the assignment until they behave. And whether I am dealing with cyberbullying or live bullying, one thing I have had in thr back of my mind for a long time now is that when I catch my students being rotten, I will simply ask them to write letters of apology, as well as ask the two parties--the bully and the victim--to honestly express their feelings to each other, ie for the one who is bullied to tell the bully how the latter made him/her feel while asking the bully themselves to write maybe a semi-essay on why they acted the way they did and why they will never do it again. As an English teacher, getting my students to embrace written and spoken language as a means to improve human relationshsips is what it's all about, for me.

Question 2: What should parents do about cyberbullying?

I am of the opinion that Bogacz's stipulation that parents closely monitor and check everything that their children do in the online world is indeed overkill. If parents cannot even trust their own children with phones and computers than they shouldn't let their offspring have them at all. Before letting their children have access to electronic communications, however, parents should emphasize to their kids about being careful and watchful of people they run into tin the online world, just as parents should caution children when dealing with people in the real world. Parents can't wrap their children in woll forever; they need to prepare them for dealing with unpleasant and potentially dangerous people in life and teaching their sons and daughters how to behave responsibly and how to avoid undesirables is the key to giving adolescents the tools to function on their own.

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