Archive for Christopher Burgess

Over the last several months, there has been a great deal of coverage in the news and other media about the increasing incidents of cyber bullying. In the wake of many tragic events , such as the bullying/suicide of Phoebe Prince, there’s been more attention directed on this topic. Author, speaker and security expert Christopher Burgess frequently writes in his blog about the need to do something more about the problem, and described Seattle Public Schools efforts along those lines.

I’m glad to see people are taking this seriously: they should. What worries me is the approach.  Frankly, it’s just more of the same thing we are doing with regards to stopping “traditional bullying.”

What I mean is, we’re approaching the problem of cyber bullying like it’s some new and different form of bullying. And fundamentally, it’s not. It’s bullying. Full stop. It’s just another “tool” to conduct bullying, but it’s the same thing.

Sure, there are some distinct features that make it potentially more troublesome than other forms of bullying. For example, because of the ubiquitous nature of the Internet or electronic media, you have a much easier way to spread rumors, hate-speech and other anti-social communication — it’s a shot-gun approach, not a rifle.  It can also be spread virally, as the damage can be propagated Also, in a lot of cases, the communication can be done anonymously.  So the bully, theoretically can do his/her damage and not be revealed or held accountable.  Further, cyber bullying can be done 7/24/365, from literally anywhere, and the impact can be permanent. Not only is information on websites frequently public, it is stored.  Who knows when awful false claims about someone might resurface?

But underlying it all is the same basic root cause as other bullying: lack of respect, compassion, empathy for other people and their feelings. Yet there is a huge call for programs and initiatives to specifically address cyber bullying.  Again, it’s using the bandaid to deal with another “surface” problem, but who is really looking at what CAUSES it in the first place?

In Mr. Burgess’ blog, he outlines a nine-lesson approach Seattle Public Schools is adopting.  Of those nine lessons, the first is about Respect and Responsibility…the balance of the lessons are specific to cyberbullying, with one lesson on bullying in general; two cover “what to do and where to get help.” We’re spending more time on management and mitigation than we are on prevention. Read More→

Categories : cyber bullying
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