Category Archives: Cyberbullying

Protecting Kids Most at Risk for Cyber Harm (Guest: Dr. John DeGarmo)

The Changing Behavior Network, Radio Style InterviewDr. John DeGarmo shares how some youngsters are more at risk for cyber harm than others because of their needs, insecurities, and histories of difficulty. Listen in to this program from our archives as he discusses the dangers of unmonitored internet access, the problems it can create, and ways to manage issues more effectively.

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Protecting Kids Most at Risk for Cyber Harm, Dr. John DeGarmoFor most folks, the internet has been a valuable resource and an enormous time-saver. The internet is virtually unlimited in its capacity to provide, in the blink of an eye, needed information and resources. Lives have been saved because of the availability and speed of the internet.

But, as we all know, lives have been burdened and even destroyed through use of the internet, and many of them were children and teens.

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, as are cyber predators looking for vulnerable young people. There are websites showing one how to make weapons and bombs, as well as sites that not only show a young person how to take their life, but convince them to do so. According to our guest on this program, Dr. John DeGarmo, these cyber dangers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Listen in as your host, psychologist Dr. James Sutton, interviews Dr. DeGarmo on the dangers of unmonitored internet access, the problems it can create, and ways to manage issues more effectively.

Keeing Foster Children Safe Online, Dr. John DeGarmoDr. DeGarmo also shares how some youngsters are more at-risk for cyber harm because of their needs, their insecurities and their histories of difficulty. Foster children are especially vulnerable to this sort of harm, deception, inappropriate contact through the internet, but non-foster youngsters can be affected, also.

Dr. DeGarmo provides training nationally to foster parents on how to keep kids safe online. He and his wife are foster parents themselves; they practice these interventions every day. They work!

In addition to a busy speaking and training schedule, Dr. DeGarmo is the host of a weekly radio show, Foster Talk with Dr. John. He also writes extensively on the topic of foster care. Today we are featuring his book entitled, Keeping Foster Kids Safe Online. (27:46)

http://www.drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com

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Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child’s Life? (Judge Tom Jacobs)

If a youngster breaks the law, does that mistake have to follow them forever? Not necessarily, says author and former juvenile judge, Tom Jacobs, as he offers insights into options for saving that youngster’s future. We present, “Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child’s Life?”

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Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child's LIfe, Judge Tom JacobsIn February, 2017, two fifth grade students at a California elementary school hacked into a classmate’s tablet. They posted graphic images and offensive language. The boys involved were both ten years old. There was an investigation by school officials.

Should this act affect their future college applications, employment opportunities, or military enlistment? No. Should it become a teachable moment? Of course.

A Serious Situation

This was the boys’ first offense, but one that could result in a criminal record. Hacking into someone’s computer and posting objectionable content may constitute a crime, depending on existing state laws. The act could be considered harassment, intimidation, cyberbullying, or threatening. Whatever category it fits into, the boys could be charged with a felony, misdemeanor or petty offense.

Diversion As An Option

The school district may have a policy of handling first-time offenses internally. The boys could face suspension or expulsion. Or the school could have a diversion program designed to educate students about the importance of being good “netizens” who practice netiquette every time they use social media. Considering their age, diversion is preferable to sending them to juvenile court for formal prosecution. The purpose of diversion is to “divert” the offense away from the criminal justice system. That way, a minor charge does not become a “record” that could follow the juvenile into adulthood.

Diversion is common across the country for first-time offenders charged with minor crimes. The majority of participants in a diversion program do not re-offend. Their brief brush with the law has a lasting impact.

Ask The Judge, Judge Tom Jacobs

Diversion generally involves community service, counseling, or a class about laws and one’s rights and responsibilities. Once the program is successfully completed, the case is closed and there’s no official record of the incident. There is no guarantee, but usually it would not appear in a background check done years or decades later.

Expunging a Juvenile’s Record

When a case is handled in juvenile court, and the court finds the juvenile guilty of an offense and imposes consequences, a record is created. All states have laws regarding expunging (destroying) a juvenile’s record. It’s a simple process and does not require hiring a lawyer. That’s a decision for the applicant and/or the parents to make. The application is a short form that, once filled out, is filed with the court the juvenile was in. A copy of the application is sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. The prosecutor notifies the court whether they agree with the expungment or oppose it. A judge ultimately decides to grant or deny the request.

If you are a teenager or pre-teen and you find yourself in court charged with a minor offense, it’s a serious event in your life. But, it’s not necessarily life-changing or the end of the world. Once you face the music, make amends, and comply with all court orders, the incident will become history and not affect your future. The U.S. Supreme Court commented in the famous Gault case in 1967 that “the policy of the juvenile law is to hide youthful errors from the full gaze of the public and bury them in the graveyard of the forgotten past.” When a juvenile court expunges a minor’s record, he or she can move out of the shadows of this cloud in their life.

 NOTE: Many courts have Self-Help Centers where the public has access to legal booklets and forms to assist them navigate the system without an attorney. Such may also be available on the court’s website. In addition, some family and juvenile law attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you contact one for advice, ask about this. A brief consult may be all you need to file for an expungment of a juvenile’s record. ###

 

Judge Tom Jacobs spent 23 years as a juvenile judge in Arizona. From his heartfelt concern for young people, Judge Tom, with assistance from his daughter, Natalie Jacobs, founded and moderates AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teenagers and the laws that affect them. It stands as a valuable site for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom has written a number of books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including “What Are My Rights?” Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, and a recent book he co-authored with Natalie, Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice.

 

 

Dealing with Media’s Effect on Our Children (Guest: Bill Ratner)

BTRadioInt

Here’s a posting of an earlier interview with Bill Ratner on a topic important to all parents. I appreciate Bill’s perspective on the matter, and I consider this interview to be one of the best on The Changing Behavior Network. We present, “Dealing with Media’s Effect on Our Children.” –JDS

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There is a very real concern that our children spend too much time online or with activities on computers, tablets, smart phones, and other digital devices. Opportunities for social interaction, family time together and even fresh air and exercise just aren’t there like they were before the digital age hit us full-force.

Dealing with Media's Effect on Our Children, Bill RatnerAnd, of course, there are concerns about internet and cyber safety. Predators are out there 24/7; they represent a valid concern to the welfare of our children. We obviously want our kids to be safe.

Digital Marketing Blitz

Our guest on this program, Bill Ratner, author and Hollywood voice-over specialist, suggests there is another presence that overwhelms our children through their digital devices: the media. Kids face a marketing blitz that’s supported by advertisers paying billions each year to target them specifically. In this program, Bill will give us an insider’s take on the problem, and what we can do about it to better protect our children and grandchildren.

Bill Ratner

Parenting for the Digital Age, Bill RatnerEven if you’ve never met Bill, you have likely HEARD him. He’s a leading voice-over specialist and voice actor in thousands of movie trailers, cartoons, television, games and commercials. Through his connections in advertising, Bill has been the voice of many leading corporations.

While raising his family, however, Bill realized his own children were being bombarded by media messages he helped create. This became a driving force behind the development of a program of media awareness for children and the writing of the book, Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It. This book is the focus of Dr. Sutton’s interview with Bill on this program. (35:19)

http://www.billratner.com/parentingbook.html

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Bullycide: When Cyberbullying Turns Fatal (Guest: Judge Tom Jacobs)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this radio-style podcast taken from our archives, Dr. James Sutton interviews Judge Tom Jacobs, a former Arizona juvenile court judge, on the topic of bullycide, youth suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

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Cyber Bullycide

As effective tools of communication and commerce, the internet and cyberspace have changed the way we live. For all the good and benefits they bring, there is a downside. This program addresses loss of life as a result of cyber abuse: Bullycide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe suicide of young people as a result of cyberbullying is a serious issue that is growing in its impact. Our guest on this program, Judge Tom Jacobs, studies cyber bullycide and the circumstances and events that affect the lives and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom will guide us through the issues of bullycide and how it happens, and he will share his research on legal implications and what we can all do to best protect our children and grandchildren from such a grave threat.

Ask the Judge

Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teen, tweens and the laws that affect them. His daughter, Natalie, assists him in making AsktheJudge.info a go-to resource. It’s also a valuable website for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people.

AskTheJudge.info, bullycide, judge tom jacobs

Judge Tom Jacobs

Judge Tom is a retired juvenile judge from Arizona, having spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including the book that covers our topic in this program: Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. (28:04)

http://www.AsktheJudge.info

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Conduct Disorder: Controlling the Uncontrollable, Part 2 (Guest: Ruth Herman Wells)

BTRadioInt-300x75The youngster diagnosed as Conduct Disorder is, without question, the most difficult child or teen to raise, teach, understand and manage.

RuthWellsphotoThese kids don’t think like we do, and therein lies our biggest challenge. Appealing to a sense of right or wrong with this youngster, or attempting to address remorse for harm done to others, doesn’t work. They don’t relate to the pain and suffering of others. In fact, they don’t relate at all.

Unfortunately, these youngsters can steal, hit, manipulate, bully, defy, torment and hurt others, resist rules and laws, and torture and kill animals … and it doesn’t bother them, at all.

This is the MOST unmanageable youngster you could possibly encounter. Effective interventions matter a great deal.

RWellsCDbookRuth Herman Wells, our guest on this program, has spent her career perfecting techniques to use with CD kids. On this program, she will share some of the best answers that exist for successfuly managing unmanageable children and teens. Ruth perfected these interventions in the trenches where the problems were. So, when we use what she shares, the ideas work.

Ruth is the Director of Youth Change Workshops, out of Oregon. She has managed programs for deliquent, troubled and problem youth. She’s the author of dozens of books, including All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Anti-social Youth and Conduct Disorders. (22:35)

(NOTE: Click on “Free Materials From Our Experts” tab above to access a two-part article by Ruth entitled, “What Every Youth Professional MUST know about Violent Students.”)

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Conduct Disorder: Controlling the Uncontrollable, Part 1 (Guest: Ruth Herman Wells)

BTRadioInt-300x75The youngster diagnosed as Conduct Disorder is, without question, the most difficult child or teen to raise, teach, understand and manage.

RuthWellsphotoThese kids don’t think like we do, and therein lies our biggest challenge. Appealing to a sense of right or wrong with this youngster, or attempting to address remorse for harm done to others, doesn’t work. They don’t relate to the pain and suffering of others. In fact, they don’t relate at all.

Unfortunately, these youngsters can steal, hit, manipulate, bully, defy, torment and hurt others, resist rules and laws, and torture and kill animals … and it doesn’t bother them, at all.

This is the MOST unmanageable youngster you could possibly encounter. Effective interventions matter a great deal.

RWellsCDbookRuth Herman Wells, our guest on this program, has spent her career perfecting techniques to use with CD kids. On this program, she will share some of the best answers that exist for successfuly managing unmanageable children and teens. Ruth perfected these interventions in the trenches where the problems were. So, when we use what she shares, the ideas work.

Ruth is the Director of Youth Change Workshops, out of Oregon. She has managed programs for deliquent, troubled and problem youth. She’s the author of dozens of books, including All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Anti-social Youth and Conduct Disorders. (22:35)

(NOTE: Click on “Free Materials From Our Experts” tab above to access a two-part article by Ruth entitled, “What Every Youth Professional MUST know about Violent Students.”)

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

Dealing with Media’s Effect on Our Children (Guest: Bill Ratner)

BTRadioIntThere is a very real concern that our children spend too much time online or with activities on computers, tablets, smart phones, and other digital devices. Opportunities for social interaction, family time together and even fresh air and exercise just aren’t there like they were before the digital age hit us full-force.

And, of course, there are concerns about internet and cyber safety. Predators are out there 24/7; they represent a valid concern to the welfare of our children. We obviously want our kids to be safe.

Our guest on this program, Bill Ratner, author and Hollywood voice-over specialist, suggests there is another presence that overwhelms our children through their digital devices: the media. Kids face a marketing blitz that’s supported by advertisers paying billions each year to target them specifically. In this program, Bill will give us an insider’s take on the problem, and what we can do about it to better protect our children and grandchildren.

BRatnerbookEven if you’ve never met Bill, you have likely HEARD him. He’s a leading voice-over specialist and voice actor in thousands of movie trailers, cartoons, television, games and commercials. Through his connections in advertising, Bill has been the voice of many leading corporations.

While raising his family, however, Bill realized his own children were being bombarded by media messages he helped create. This became a driving force behind the development of a program of media awareness for children and the writing of the book, Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It. This book is the focus of Dr. Sutton’s interview with Bill on this program. (35:19)

http://www.billratner.com/parentingbook.html

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Teens, Cyberspace and the Law (Guest: Judge Tom Jacobs)

BTRadioIntThere’s little doubt that cellphones and the internet have created convenient and lightning-quick ways to communicate in a complicated world. Many lives have been saved because these tools were available.

But it’s also true that irresponsible, even unlawful, use of cellphone communication has cost people their dignity, their reputation, their livlihood, and even their lives.

???????????????????????????????Although the inappropriate use of cellphones and the internet is not just a problem among young people, evidence points to the fact that these tools in the hands of our children can be concern. Parents should monitor their use and take action, when needed.

But what sort of action? Overreaction can damage relationships, completely shut down communication and drive the problem even deeper. So the question remains: What are the potential problems (ranging from excessive calling and texting to sexting and cyberbullying), and what can parents and educators do to address them effectively?

Our guest today, Judge Tom Jacobs, has some thoughts on the matter, thoughts, suggestions and interventions compiled during the 23 years he spent as a juvenile judge in Arizona. As they say, Judge Tom has “been there.”

From his heartfelt concern for young people, Judge Tom founded and moderates AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teenagers and the laws that affect them. And, of course, it’s a valuable site for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people.

Judge Tom has written several books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including “What Are My Rights?” and Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. (28:20)

www.AsktheJudge.info

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

BULLIED TO DEATH: Bullying, Cyberbullying and Youth Suicide, Part 3 (Guests: Judge Tom Jacobs & Dr. James Sutton)

BTSpReportThis special report, done in interview format, is presented in three parts. It addresses issues of bullying (traditional and cyber) and resulting instances of suicide in young people. Suggestions for intervention are also offered.

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JacobsSuttonIf a suicidal youngster is being seen by a counselor, therapist or clinician, what is the focus of treatment?

(Sutton) I can only outline an approach I would take. First of all, it’s critical I keep in the front of my mind the one thing most capable of preventing a youth suicide: the presence of at least one positive, meaningful relationship. It’s a sobering thought, but true, that I might be that one relationship, at least until I can help the youngster re-attach to others.

To this end, the development of a genuine and caring rapport with this child or teen is paramount, as would be my expectation of the youngster that they would not take their life while I am trying to help them. (This might sound a bit egotistical on the surface, but, if a youngster has little or no regard for his/her life, thoughts of the effect of their suicide on others, certainly including family members, could be an excellent, short-term deterrent.)

One of the first questions I would ask of this youngster is one I borrowed from my psychologist friend in Virginia, Dr. Doug Riley: “Do you want to die, or do you just want the pain to go away?” That one question might stop them in their tracks because they’ve always felt that death is the only way for their pain to stop.

Early on, I would want to assess the degree and depth of the youngster’s sense of hopelessness and their level of impulsivity in the face of their distress. It would also be important to address the causes of this youngster’s difficulties and obtain some sort of immediate relief where and when possible. (One example might be a schedule change at school. It’s not a total solution, but it is a start, and it signals to the child or teen our willingness to act on their behalf.)

Although treatment approaches will vary from one youngster to the next, my primary goal would be to help them with the insight and skills for regaining control in his/her life. I would give them “homework” and expect them to comply, especially since their resulting actions, or lack of them, can be therapeutically significant.

(For instance, I told one young man to take a lap around the football field before he walked home after school. My intent was twofold. First of all, some kind of activity almost always helps with depression. Second, a willingness to follow well-intended directions is an investment in one’s own healing.)

At some point, this youngster might be a good candidate for group work, if I can arrange it.

What is the parent’s role in this phenomenon? What can they do to minimize the bullying (traditional or cyberbullying)? 

(Jacobs) Parents need to build trust with their children from an early age regarding all things digital. The child needs to understand they can go to their parent anytime something they read or see on the screen upsets them. Once trust is built and ingrained in their psyche, monitoring their cyber life in later years won’t become a major issue.

As the child matures and is allowed greater use of digital devices, parents should monitor all of their accounts closely and regularly. You can’t protect your child if you don’t know what they’re exposed to. Communication about cyberspace should be ongoing while encouraging the child to report any and all cruel messages or anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Regarding sexting, the “sext” talk should be done while in middle school and continue throughout high school. This isn’t like the sex talk that many dread and can’t wait to get over. It should be ongoing.

Because kids have access to smart phones and other mobile technologies earlier in life, is cyberbullying a problem among elementary-age children? 

(Jacobs) Although not a major problem, elementary schools are addressing the issue by teaching and practicing tolerance and kindness. Books and posters are available to K-5 students and teachers from children’s publishers. I am not aware of any court cases or prosecutions of elementary school students for cyberbullying.

 What are the legal options open to youngsters who are severely bullied? 

(Jacobs) The victim and his or her parents can and should take action. If the bully is known, the parents may attempt to discuss the situation with him and his parents. The parents should also notify the principal with a request that the school’s bullying policies be adhered to. Schools have addressed cyber-bullying of classmates and teachers through suspension and expulsion in the appropriate case.

Schools are charged with providing a hostile-free learning environment and failure to do so may have legal consequences. Some recent cases have resulted in civil lawsuits brought against the bully, parents, school districts and administrators. Depending on the facts of the case, a variety of legal theories may be pursued including negligence, physical or mental harm, invasion of privacy, defamation of character, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Another way to deal with a cyber-bully is to seek an Order of Protection from a court. Sometimes referred to as a restraining order or injunction, a violation of the order may result in contempt and possible jail time. The order can restrict a person from all contact with another person or set limitations on the type of contact, frequency and location. Once in place, a protective order will last a specified period of time but may be renewed if necessary.

Finally, if the acts of the bully constitute a crime under relevant statutes, the police may become involved. Criminal charges including intimidation, threatening, harassment, stalking, or impersonation may be filed against the bully in juvenile or adult court. Penalties for conviction include probation, community service, counseling, jail, or prison.

Do you have any recommendations, legally and socially, regarding action against bullying of all sorts?  

(Jacobs) Generally, regarding cyberbullying, don’t respond or engage the bully, make copies of all messages and block further messages.

Then, if the bullying continues, see the legal options discussed above.

(Sutton) I would only add that bullying, like poverty, disease, hunger and other issues that affect people’s lives, is very much a social problem. We all have a responsibility to deal with it, not only for the sake of a bully’s victims, but for the sake of decency in society as a whole. ###

 Tom Jacobs spent twenty-three years in family and juvenile court before retiring in 2008. He moderates AsktheJudge.info with his daughter, attorney Natalie Jacobs. AsktheJudge is a free, interactive resource for teenagers, parents and educators about the laws that affect teens and youth justice issues.
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A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet blog and radio-style podcast dedicated to the positive growth of children, teens and their families.

BULLIED TO DEATH: Bullying, Cyberbullying and Youth Suicide, Part 2 (Guests: Judge Tom Jacobs & Dr. James Sutton)

BTSpReportThis special report, done in interview format, is presented in three parts. It addresses issues of bullying (traditional and cyber) and resulting instances of suicide in young people. Suggestions for intervention are also offered.

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JacobsSuttonWhat’s new in cyberbullying? What are teenagers and young adults doing online that constitutes cyberbullying? 

(Jacobs)Videotaping friends and classmates at social events is common. However, the line is crossed when an embarrassing incident is filmed and broadcast for the world to see. This happened to Tyler Clementi who was 20 years old when he jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in New York after a video of him in his dorm room with another male went viral; or to 14 year-old Matthew Burdette in 2013 when he was taped masturbating in a bathroom at school. After two weeks of torment by classmates and students from other schools, Matthew ended his life.

There have also been incidents of videotaped sexual assaults of teenagers  placed on YouTube to the humiliation of the victims. Some have led to suicide  as in the case of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia, Canada and 15-year-old Audrie Pott of California.

Rehtaeh was raped by classmates at a party when she was 15. The incident was filmed and photos were released on social media sites. After a year and a half of torment, Rehtaeh hanged herself at home. Audrie suffered a similar fate. She was 15 when she was assaulted at a party by three teenage boys. Photographs of the assault went viral and Audrie hanged herself a week later in 2012.

Blackmail has also been used by online perpetrators against teens who have sexted photos to others (sometimes referred to as “sextortion”). The perp demands additional, more graphic photos or money with a threat of public disclosure for failing to comply. If this happens to you, report it to your parents as soon as possible. A crime has been committed and you need to be protected.

How big a problem is cyberbullying compared to other criminal behavior committed by juveniles? 

(Jacobs) Comparatively, cyberbullying is not a major problem in the juvenile justice system in the United States. Other low felony or misdemeanor crimes take up the bulk of the juvenile court’s workload. Crimes including shoplifting, minor drug offenses, truancy and runaway incidents account for higher delinquency and incorrigibility statistics than cyber-crimes.

Recent studies indicate that 25% of students have been cyberbullied while 16% admit to cyberbullying someone else. (www.cyberbullying.us) Most of these incidents were handled within the school system as opposed to being referred to juvenile court for processing.

Is the law keeping up with cyberbullying? What are the consequences imposed on our youth for engaging in cyberbullying? 

(Jacobs) Because of the nature of digital technology and the speed with which new apps and platforms evolve, the legal system is unable to keep pace with cyberbullying and its aftermath. The legislative process is slow and not necessarily the best method of addressing all social ills.

Laws regarding communication exist in all states. Those who harass, threaten, stalk or intimidate others may be prosecuted under local criminal laws. There may not be a need to create a cyberbullying classification to cover behavior that is already proscribed by law. Consequences for juveniles adjudicated guilty of cyberbullying range from participation in a diversion program to detention at a juvenile facility or prison.

It is not uncommon for a juvenile to be placed on supervised probation for a period of time with specific conditions. That may include a restriction on internet use, contact with the victim and victim’s family, and possibly restitution to the victim for counseling undertaken as a result of the bullying. Judges tailor penalties to the crime committed and injuries sustained by the victim.

What’s the connection between cyberbullying and actual physical bullying? Is there usually in-person contact between a cyberbully and his/her victim at school? 

(Jacobs) Online bullying gives the perpetrator the opportunity to anonymously target his or her victim. Cyberbullying from home, for example, allows the bully to hide behind a computer or cell phone without risk of being identified in a face-to-face meeting in public. Consequently, most cyberbullying eliminates the need for real-time traditional bullying in the school hallway or elsewhere on campus. In addition, the bully can invite others to join in, thus creating a cyber-mob. There is also some evidence of bullying victims becoming bullies behind closed doors: an easy way to vent without detection.

(Sutton) The whole cyber-mob mentality is especially devastating because, although a victim might be able to handle the abuse of one or two bullies, the damage created by many classmates (a cyber-mob) can be, and has been, deadly. It’s easy for a suffering child or teen to perceive it as a message from the whole world.

How are schools typically dealing with the bullying issue? 

(Jacobs) Many states have laws that require anti-bullying programs and education for all students. Schools are complying through a variety of measures. Some address bullying at the beginning of the school year at assemblies and individually in classrooms. Bullying posters may be placed throughout the school including the gym, classrooms and cafeteria. Schools have also included their bullying policies in the Student Handbook, Code of Conduct and on the school’s website.

Following either state law or district policy, reports of traditional or cyberbullying are investigated and appropriate action is taken. That may include meetings with the parents of those involved, disciplinary action by the school (suspension or expulsion), or referral to law enforcement when a crime has been committed.

(Sutton) Judge Jacobs is on the mark. I would add that there is also a movement to teach potential victims the skills for dealing with bullies when they encounter them. Here’s the premise: If a potential victim can learn to refuse to be bullied, they gain a life skill, bullying is reduced, and a victim mentality is avoided. Although it’s not a solution for every case and situation, it’s an idea that’s gaining traction.

Another idea that’s catching on in some schools is the active practice of social inclusion. One way of accomplishing this is through the use of daily peer circles. The concept is built around proven Native American restorative practices whereby every member is brought into and included in the events of the tribe or culture. I have never done peer circles in the schools myself, but I have done something very similar with young adults in drug and alcohol treatment. The overall results were nothing short of phenomenal.

This concludes Part 2. The third and final part of this interview with Judge Jacobs and Dr. Sutton will appear in the next post.