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I thought of an intervention to cyberbullying…

Ryan received special education services from preschool to fourth grade because of his speech, language and motor skills development.  After years of getting bullied by this specific boy from fifth grade to seventh grade, he and Ryan became friends.  Ryan felt comfortable with her.  Ryan shared an embarrassing personal story with this girl who he thought was his friend.  He was clearly not.  The bully started a rumor that Ryan was gay.  Her and her friends had a “pretty and popular” girl instant message Ryan and pretend she had feelings for him.  This led Ryan to share more embarrassing, personal information with her.  The bully copy and pasted the AIM messages with the rest of her friends.  On October 7, 2003 Ryan hung himself.  Later a folder of the AIM exchanges was found on his computer.  Since there was no criminal law catered to protecting the victim, there were no criminal charges to the bully.  Seven months later Vermont’s Governor signed Vermont’s Bully Prevention Law and Vermont’s Suicide Prevention Law.

Ryan’s case is a really good example of how large of an impact cyber bullying can have.  My intervention is education based.  All throughout middle and high school students are required to take health.  This is in attempt to teach safe sex and how to properly do something that will inevitably occur.  Technology is so prevalent in this day in age.  It is everywhere.  Now that it is so important, teens who grow up using it, should also grow up learning how to use it.  I do not mean coding or graphic classes.  I mean just as teens are taught how to practice safe sex, they should be taught how to properly use the internet and technology.

My educational intervention targets students in middle school.  This is when people tend to be most impressionable.  This is also the age where social media begins.  If my educational program was hands on and showed very specific examples, like Ryan’s, this would have a stronger impact.  One of the main issues around cyberbullying is that people are always told to not do it, but they are not informed of the effects that could actually be brought about from cyberbullying.  If these students heard actual stories, they would put emotions to the cause, more than just showing facts.  Actual experiences are the only true way to show what can actually happen.  Seeing videos and hearing these stories would allow students to related themselves to similar situations.  Key issues with cyberbullying is that kids can say “that would never happen with me”.  Showing them real-life examples would alleviate this thought from their minds.

This intervention also will prevent direct bullying.  Seeing what can happen in these educational programs, will hopefully resonate with cyberbullies.  Direct cyberbullying consists of people intentionally threatening or bullying others.  This intervention would linger in people’s heads and the horrible stories would come to their mind and they would opt to not intentionally bully someone.  In my opinion, direct bullying is the first place we need to stop.  This is because direct cyberbullies strategically do their bullying.  So stopping this first would result in a lot less instances.  I think that you have to target a specific group to actually make a difference, not a broad group.

In say “Preventative and treatment strategies are most likely to be beneficial when they are integrative (multilevel), that is, combining system-level and more individual-targeted approaches that tackle risky online behaviors while, in parallel, addressing potential pre-existing vulnerabilities,” Pingault and Schoeler agree with my intervention.  Having these classes throughout middle school, just as the health classes are dispersed, would teach students throughout three different years of their lives.  This time period is also right during development.  So it would stick with them and they would have many years of exposure to the situation to assist in helping them stop it.

I understand that there have been many attempts at stopping cyberbullying in the past.  However, my ideas about it are that it is nearly impossible to stop it.  But if we can get less kids to participate in it, the better off.  My intervention would not completely end cyber bullying.  Health classes are mandated, yet there is still teenage pregnancy and unsafe sex practiced.  But through the help of health classes, there is less teenage pregnancies and unsafe sex practices.  This is the key to eventually ending cyberbullying.  Life really revolves around a ripple effect.  If a few less students in middle school cyberbully, this will then influence less students in the following generations to cyberbully.




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