The routine use of social media among staff, students and the greater community has posed new issues for school districts to address. There have been stories of schools accessing student social media accounts to research cyberbullying issues. And, as of January 1, 2015, schools in Illinois can require students’ social media passwords when certain circumstances, including evidence that a student violated school policies – even if that violation occurred after school hours. The intent of the law is to help thwart incidents of cyberbullying, but critics say it is a slippery slope and can be an invasion of student privacy.
Proactive efforts from schools are an attempt to reduce or prevent escalating online. Cyberbullying negatively impacts its victims, as those who are bullied can experience depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and suicidal thoughts, and be more likely to use drugs, skip school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, and even act out with violence.
“The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative,” conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, found that many students who committed acts of targeted violence at school “felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others.” Additionally, the report said these incidences were rarely impulsive acts and that prior to most events, “other people knew about the attacker’s idea and/or plan to attack” and “most attackers engaged in some behavior prior to the incident that caused others concern or indicated a need for help.”
Learn more about what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) terms “electronic aggression,” and what schools can do to prevent it. Or, email us to add our Bullying Prevention course to your staff training, or obtain one of our two 5-minute videos for students, Beat Bullying and Tell Someone.