Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying
By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
Corwin, 2008, 254 pp.
Teacher Book Club Dates: Oct. 25-28, 2011
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"Even though the vast majority of cyberbullying behaviors take place off school grounds, they very often make their way back into the school. In fact, many adolescent problems these days either begin at school and progress online or are initiated online and continue at school. Like it or not, educators will frequently have to deal with repercussions of disagreements or problems that began or escalated a great distance from the school house doors."
Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard
Cyberbullying, defined as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices," is a complex form of adolescent aggressionand a force that nearly every educator today will have to reckon with, according to criminal-justice experts Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin. In their book Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, Hinduja and Patchin give a thorough introduction to this pervasive and often misunderstood educational problem. They detail the ways teenagers are using technology such as email, social networking sites, and smartphones to engage in online bullyingby, among other things, spreading rumors, altering photos, and bombarding victims with threatening messages.
The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating. As Hinduja and Patchin, who’ve spent much of the last decade researching adolescents’ online behaviors, explain, cyberbullying can lead to "school problems such as tardiness and truancy, eating disorders, chronic illness, self-esteem problems, aggression, depression, interpersonal violence, substance abuse, and other forms of delinquency." And since 2006, there have been several high-profile cases in which teenagers who experienced cyberbullying committed suicide.
While the media have picked up on the impacts of cyberbullying, there’s been less definitive information on what to do about it. Hinduja and Patchin’s Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard is an attempt to bridge that knowledge gap. The authors argue that taking away technology when cyberbullying occursthe well-intentioned response from many parentsis ill-advised, akin to sheltering students from learning opportunities such as field trips for fear they could be dangerous. The authors contend that school staff can play a major role in decreasing and alleviating the effects of Internet misuse. In the book, they lay out the ways teachers and administrators can identify bullies and victims, help prevent online harassment, navigate the complicated legal terrain, and step in when harmful behavior occurs.
"Many youth are embedded in an online culture that is largely inseparable and indistinct from their offline world, and most adults cannot comprehend this lifestyle practice," write Hinduja and Patchin. With first-hand accounts from cyberbullying victims and perpetrators scattered throughout the book, along with the statistics and findings from their research, the authors elucidate young adults’ experience of the 21st-century online environment.
Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard was published three years ago, but many in the education field agree it remains a timely and authoritative text. (Sales of the book are still on the rise.) During the four-day online discussion, Hinduja and Patchin will address both the book and their most recent cyberbullying research.