All stats indicate that our middle to upper class kids may soon experience the harsh reality of cyber bullying. Consider this:
- PH has 30% internet penetration rate to overall population according to ITU
- 90% of the internet population, according to comscore, are into social networking, with an average of 5.5 hours per visit; with 26x visits a month
- According to Socialbakers, 19% of Facebook users are 13-17 years old, age of our high school students.
The young people who can spend the most time on the internet are those who have web access at home, or have wifi/3G capable smartphones. And if private and upper tier schools will not take proactive steps, the effects of cyberbullying in advance countries may soon reach our shores. Teen suicide, invasion of privacy, social engineering resulting to sexual abuse.
But don’t be misled, cyberbullying is already here in the Philippines, albeit not as rampant and harsh compare to countries with higher internet penetration rate. Some private schools have recorded instances such as creation of hate pages, online stalkers, cyber boso, and online trash talks. There were probably “more” cases but remain unreported because the problem is either not yet recognized, or the school’s systems and processes does not reflect yet cyberbullying and other digital related offenses.
I discussed an ideal anti-cyberbullying program in an earlier post, but on this article, allow me to share with you how Reedly International School has taken a proactive approach.
I have a pleasant discussion with Ms. Thea Sordan, the Student Affair’s Head, together with Jane Santos, Life Coach Head for Upper School, and we discussed how the Reesians were honed to prevent cyberbullying. They said the campaign started three years ago with a seminar for the parents and the enhancement of the school’s anti-bullying policy to include “cyberbullying”. The enhancement included the following:
- Cyberbullying is defined to ensure parents, teachers, the school and students are in the same page
- A culture of openness is not only encouraged, but practiced. Thus, students freely report incidents of untoward behavior among them
- Since students to teacher ratio is small, teachers developed a trusting relationship with kids.
- Due process is defined
- Teachers played a nurturing role
Aside from these, according to Thea, they have a yearlong campaign on “kindness overdose” for the upper school and “bully proof” for the lower and middle school to inculcate kindness as a character trait.
Though the present program has plenty of room for improvement, they are in better position to deal with cyberbullying. In my observation, the program blended well with the school’s system because of the “caring culture”. As proof to that, our interview was disturbed several times because students come and go to her office. According to Jane, during break periods, kids are fond of hanging out in the student affairs and counselors office. With that kind of atmosphere, reporting an unwanted behavior, cyber related or not, will not be a problem.
The student affairs office is contemplating of holding another seminar for parents not only on cyberbullying but on cyber wellness in general.
For the info of everyone, Reedley International School is considered as one of the top tier schools in PH that stands out because they 1] keep the size of their class small, making it manageable for teachers to monitor development of pupils, 2] they do not just require competence among its teachers, but to be caring too and 3] the basis of excellence is not the traditional “ruler” type, but that of the a roadmap based on the kids skills and interest. 4] The school do teach kids life skills to discover their interests and pursue it.
Do you know of other school’s that already have anti cyber bullying program? Care to share the strategy?
It is sad that we have to have classes on cyber bullying to try to prevent this. Cyber bullying is a major issue in the United States and it is sad to think that it is now coming into play in other countries. I think it is great that The Reedley International School is making parents, teachers and students aware of the dangers with cyber bullying. Hopefully the bullies will think twice before posting.