Silencing the Cyberbullies

The Final Stand

By: Rickard Jean-Noel

2020-0511 SWGS 6814

 

The question that we will be addressing in this paper and that we will also be creating an intervention/program for is: “Does parent/teacher online training courses that address social media and online video gaming help to reduce the effects of cyberbullying in adolescents ages 13- 17”. We will focus on the negative effects that cyber bullying has on the individual social, mental, and physical wellbeing, and how we can combat it by providing the parents, teachers, and caregivers with a better understand of the online platforms that their children spent so much time on. We will review the successes of current online courses for caregivers and discus strategies in order to aid both the victims and the parents facing this new age form of bullying and to provide them with support in order to deal with this new age pandemic. We will also focus on developing support and materials for teachers, parents, and caregivers so that they are better equipped in the prevention process, as well as the intervention process. If all of the intervention principles are applied correctly, we believe that there will be a recognizable change in regard to those suffering at the hands of these keyboard thugs.

Along with the advancement of technology came both negative and positive changes to the lives of man. One of the negatives that we can point out is cyber bullying. Cyber Bullying is described as an “electronic forms of contact, an aggressive act, intent, repetition, harm to the target” (Hutson, 2016). This new form of bullying has now allowed youths to bully others from literally the palm of their hands and even in the comfort of their homes. This new easy access to individuals to virtually abuse others has resulted in a world of bullying without boundaries. Events that were once occurring only on playgrounds and neighborhoods, has now entered into any entry that has an internet connection.

In the past children use to spend a great deal of time outside with friends, with little to no parental supervision. This would often provide the opportunity for the “weaker” individuals to be bullied by others. Because of the turn of the century and technological advances, children and youths are no longer spending long periods of time outside and are now spending long periods of time online. Because of the long periods of time spent online unsupervised, this provides an opportunity for the bullies to wreak havoc, and for the weak to fall victim.

Cyber bullies use several different avenues in order to afflict their victims. This includes but are not limited to the following: “personal websites, blogs, email, texting, social networking sites/apps, chat rooms, message boards, instant messaging, photographs, video games” (Feinberg & Robey, 2009). According to the CDC, “15% of high school students and 24% of junior high students were cyberbullied in the year 2015” (Center for Disease Control, 2015). This is because a large number of children and teens spend a great deal of time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Young children often use these platforms to obtain validation from their peers and put a great deal of emphasis on how others view and perceives them. This in turns leaves them victim to the judgement of others, allowing others to control their emotions and perceptions of themselves.

A popular place for children and young adult to interact with one other are online video game platforms. According to stopbullying.gov, “90 percent of teens gaming online. Many video games – whether they are on a computer, game console, cellphone or tablet – allow users to play with friends they know in person and others they have met only online. While gaming can have positive benefits like making new friends, socializing, and learning how to strategize and problem solve, it is also another place where cyberbullying occurs” (Kids on Social Media and Gaming Social Media Apps and Sites Commonly Used by Children and Teens. (n.d.). Www.Stopbullying.Gov. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/kids-on-social-media-and-gaming). It goes on to state that “Anonymity of players and the use of avatars allow users to create alter-egos or fictional versions of themselves, which is part of the fun of gaming. But it also allows users to harass, bully, and sometimes gang up on other players, sending or posting negative or hurtful messages and using the game as a tool of harassment. If someone is not performing well, other children may curse or make negative remarks that turn into bullying, or they might exclude the person from playing together”( Kids on Social Media and Gaming Social Media Apps and Sites Commonly Used by Children and Teens. (n.d.). Www.Stopbullying.Gov. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/kids-on-social-media-and-gaming). It conclusions by stating that “Because players are anonymous, they cannot necessarily be held accountable for their behavior, and their harassment can cause some players to leave games. Some anonymous users use the game as a means to harass strangers or to get their personal information, like user names and passwords” (Kids on Social Media and Gaming Social Media Apps and Sites Commonly Used by Children and Teens. (n.d.). Www.Stopbullying.Gov. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/kids-on-social-media-and-gaming).

According to Venturebeat.com “43% of teens aged 13-17 have reported an experience where they were cyber-bullied. But for video game players, that percentage could be significantly higher. In fact, 63% of female gamers have been sexually harassed (in digital environments), such as being asked to perform “virtual sex behaviors” in return for in-game currencies” ( Aaron, J. (2014, September 26). This is proof that both males and females are possible prey to the internet vultures.

One of the main reasons why cyberbullies uses online platforms is because they have the option of remaining anonymous. By remaining anonymous, the risk of being exposed or discovered becomes extremely limited. They are then able to perform their task in a shroud of secrecy. Cyberbullies are often times both male and female and they are often times older than their victims. They are individuals that would often be bullied in “real-life” but feel that they have a new form of courage online.  With the ability to cloak themselves online, they often times attack their victim anonymously then simply disappear by closing their laptops, tablets, or phones. The lack of ability to identify their attackers causes the victims to fell a sense of uncontrollability over the situation. They are unable to stop the bullying and are also unable to control who views what the bully post online about them. This results in a sense of panic and can cause a high level of hopelessness within the victim.

 

Often times individuals that are victims of cyberbullying end up with minor and serious mental issues. These include but are not limited to social anxiety, depression, a sense of loneliness, and even thoughts of suicide (Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014 ). The saddest part about cyberbullying and the most ironic thing about cyberbullying is that majority of the individuals that are cyberbullies are actually being bullied themselves offline and are only bullying others online out of revenge. The targets of the cyberbullies then cyberbully others in an attempt to get revenge, and therefore the cycle continues over and over again (Arslan, Savaser, Hallett, & Balci, 2012 ). Because they are not there together in person, they do not see the repercussions of their acts and therefore they continue over and over to bully others.  Cyberbullies also do not have to deal with any physical consequences if they are to remain anonymous (Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014 ).

There have been several intervention methods that have been attempted in helping to “lower the curve”. One intervention method that has been applied to prevent cyber bullying is providing youths, school officials, and parents with information on what cyberbullying is and how to avoid becoming a victim (Cassidy W, Faucher C, & Jackson M 2013). The more information that is provided, the more equipped the parents, teachers, and youths will be in preventing and avoiding the cyberbullying. This is this program/intervention that we will focus on in this paper. “Do parent/teacher online training courses that address social media and online video gaming help to reduce the effects of cyberbullying in adolescents ages 13- 17”?We believe that if the proper online educational training courses are provided to parents and teachers in regard to social media and online video games, we will be able to reduce the effects of cyberbullying in adolescents ages 13- 17.

The program intervention would include a series of online courses for parents and guardians, as well as social officials and staff. The course would teach parents about new platforms such as: Facebook, Instagram, Kik, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, Vine, WhatsApp, YouTube, as well as online gaming platforms such as PlayStation Online, Xbox Live, and Fortnite Online. Most parents are not well aware of all of these platforms because of the age gaps or are too occupied to even supervise their children during the times of which they are on these particular platforms. The program would also provide parents, care givers, and school officials with intervention methods to better assist their children/ student in situations where cyberbullying might occur or has occurred. The parents must also be the most involved because the school officials are unable to monitor the students once they reach home. Therefore, the parents must monitor the children and youth, but they must know what to look for and what support to provide.

The agency environment would be a fun and interactive one. There will be several computers for the participants to use. There will also be a recreational room for us to conduct group activities. The staff will consist of social service professionals including a social worker, a psychiatrist that works well with families, a nurse, a few caseworkers, maintenance staff, computer technicians, IT professionals, a recreational team, Website developers, and App developers. Since we are working with schools, we will attempt to get funding from the Department of Education and other government programs. Overall, it will be a great agency and a great learning experience for everyone involved. The agency’s fun and interactive environment will allow creativity to flow and for new ideas to be created.

We would base the organization of the company on the standard organization of majority of companies. We will have a board of directors. We will also have a structure of organization that would include a CEO, Co-CEO, Treasury, secretary, and such. There will also be employees such as the social service staff. Everyone will be working together in unity in order to reach the common goal. The common goal would be to assist the individuals that are currently dealing with cyberbullying and those that need relief. We believe that if everyone believes in the common goal, then we have a better chance at success.

Our theory of change will include several action steps. The first step would be helping parents, care givers, and school officials to recognize the signs of cyberbullying and better understand the online platforms where the cyberbullying takes place. Whether uncovering the victim or the bully, both must be identified in order for a change to take place. Once the parents and educators are able to identify both the victims and the villains, then we can begin to make the change. We will also provide the parents, guardians, and school official with information on all of the new online platforms, so that they are better equipped to navigate through the platforms and to take notice of particular things that might be indicators that cyberbullying is occurring. We are in an attempt to lower the curve of cyberbullying and ultimately lower the number of children and young adults in therapy for cyberbullying and to eliminate the rate suicides that result from cyberbullying.

We understand that the program will not be successful without the full participation of parents, guardians, school officials, and the children/youths.  We will also need the full cooperation of the children and the youths are who we are trying to assist, and prevent them from becoming victims of cyber bullying, or becoming cyberbullies themselves. In order for us to do this, parents, guardians, and school officials must be properly educated on what is occurring online, be provided education on the many online platforms, and the warning signs in order to assist the children and youths. There must be solid online courses that are able to effectively deliver this training and provide substantial results. We will measure results by interviewing all parties, such as students, parents, guardians, school officials and staff, school social workers, and therapists. We will keep daily logs of the student’s progress, as well as the amount of time they spend online and the hours of counseling they require. Parents and guardians will also monitor the moods of the students and track their behaviors. Both victims of cyberbullying, as well as the bullies will be interviewed to see if there was a change in the patterns of behaviors and moods. Additional result will be continued, due to the fact that technology is ever changing, and the forms and platforms of cyberbullying will continue to change. Therefore, the preventive measures will have to change as well.

The logic model that we will use will be an amazingly simple one, but yet a very affective one. Our resources will consist of the online courses, which will be created by a dedicated team of social workers and computer software engineers. We will also develop anapplication that will be able to track the progress of the parents, guardians, and school officials as they navigate through the course. There will also be a separate an application for students as well to comment on how they feel and to record their progress as well. We will apply the use of smart phones and tablets to get a better understanding of the online platforms. We will conduct weekly meeting via the Zoom meeting app, and we will do weekly online courses through the online training courses. There will also be a monthly group meeting with students, parents/guardians, and school officials to have open discussions on their progress, moods, and feelings. This will help create a safe zone for an expression of collective ideas.

Our literature review consisted of information found on the websites of government agencies and private companies already conducting the same program as the one that we are purposing. We believe that because of the success of these currently existing programs, this can foreshadow the success of ours as well. The majority of the websites also drives the point that the parents/ guardian must be fully involved in order for the intervention to be successful. Online sources include: https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/training-center/bullying-prevention-training-course, which is a government website that provides information on bully prevention. The also provide information on cyber bullying athttps://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it and there is, https://www.teachereducation.com/Cyberbullying-10-239.html Online course for bully prevention. We believe that these companies are missing an app that would be interactive for the students. With the addition of an interactive app, it will be able to engage both parents, school officials, and students, while making the learning experience so much more fun.

According to https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/cyberbullying-prevention-and-support/, the following actions by parents will help with bulling :

  • Monitor children’s online activities.
  • Take away children’s mobile devices if they are caught mistreating people online.
  • Teach children how to use technology responsibly.
  • Find out whom children are speaking to, and making friends with, online.
  • Understand the signs of someone who is a bullying victim.
  • Learn how to use the technology that children are using in order to get a perspective of their online world.

Our Aims will include the following:

  • To lower the amount of students being cyberbullied.
  • To lower the amount of children in therapy for cyberbullying in the control group.
  • Lower the amount of suicides as a result of cyberbullying.
  • Decrease the number of cyberbullies online.
  • Create a safe online environment for students using online platforms.

And our objectives will include the following:

  • To enroll parents, schools, and students in an online cyberbullying course.
  • To have everyone enrolled to successfully complete their online training course.
  • To obtain the right individuals that will create an interactive app and website so that the users of the course can navigate the them with ease.
  • To hire the right mental health professionals and clinical staff to help us to obtain this task at hand.
  • To successful record data collected as proof of success of our program.

The population of our study will include the following:

  • adolescents ages 13- 17 that have been victims of cyberbullying or has partaken in cyberbullying.
  • Parents and/or Guardians of adolescents ages 13- 17 that have been victims of cyberbullying or has partaken in cyberbullying.
  • Teachers and other school officials that work with adolescents ages 13- 17 that have been victims of cyberbullying or has partaken in cyberbullying.

We will recruit the participants from the local school districts. We will enlist the help of the study therapist and counselors to identify the students with and without the cyberbullying issues to create both control groups in order to come and contrast the effects of the program.

The Method that we will use will be the Cross-Sectional Research Method and the use of Surveys. This will allow us to compare the difference in those that took the course and those that did not. The surveys will help us measure the satisfaction of the people involved. We will be using it for the following reasons:

  • Relatively quick and easy to conduct (no long periods of follow-up).
  • Data on all variables is only collected once.
  • Able to measure prevalence for all factors under investigation.
  • Multiple outcomes and exposures can be studied.
  • Good for descriptive analyses and for generating hypotheses

Source of points were found at https://www.healthknowledge.org.uk/e-learning/epidemiology/practitioners/introduction-study-design-css.

For measurement, we will be measuring the effects of the educational courses and trainings provided and its effectiveness to lower cyberbullying in a controlled cross study.  We will then compare the results to that of a group that had not been receiving the courses. The school therapist and teacher will mentor the student’s behavior in school and the parents and guardians will keep a log at home.  At the end of a 90 days period, we will compare the changes in the two groups of students. We will be measuring the effects of the educational courses and trainings provided and its effectiveness to lower cyberbullying in a controlled cross study.  We will then compare the results to that of a group that had not been receiving the courses. The school therapist and teacher will mentor the student’s behavior in school and the parents and guardians will keep a log at home.  At the end of a 90 days period, we will compare the changes in the two groups of students.

We will maintain fidelity by allowing the participating parties to keep their logs and data confidential until the end of the 90-day trial period.  The teachers, therapist, and parents/guardians will not sure logbooks or data. All data will be input into the system electronically and only certain people will have access. All the data will be displayed and shared with participants only at the termination of the course. The control group that is not receiving the course will not be aware of the course materials.

In the short term we will attempt to sign up schools, parents, and students. We will track how many of them are registered for the course and that have downloaded the app. We will also attempt to hire social workers and therapist that would best with children and teens. We will track the parents/guardians, and school officials progress in the app to see who is actually completing the courses. The success of the course will highly depend on the participation of all parties, especially the parents. In the medium term, we will compare the moods and behaviors of the students at the current time to when they first began the program. We will also test the online and social media knowledge of the parents and the school officials and staff to see if the information is being retained. The ultimate impact will be measure further down the line when the students are more matured into the program. We will check the status of the student’s grades, their interactions with their peers, their behaviors at home and at school. We will also track their progress with the social workers. Parents/guardians and school officials and staff that have successfully completed the program will receive a certification of completion.

In conclusion, Cyberbullying is a profoundly serious social and mental health issue that is in particularly affecting children, teens, and young adults. It has serious mental health implication on this class of individuals. With the ever-changing times, we must adapt to them and resolve any negative issues that come along with the changing of the times, such as cyberbullying. We believe that if our intervention program is applied correctly and is carried out efficiently, there will be success across that board and we will not only be able to improve the lives of these adultescent victims, we will also be able to possibly save a life.

 

References:

  1. Hutson E. Cyberbullying in Adolescence: A Concept Analysis. ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 2016;39(1):60‐70. doi:10.1097/ANS.0000000000000104
  2. Feinberg, T., & Robey,  N. (2009). Cyberbullying: intervention and prevention strategies. National Association of School Psychologists, 38,  S4H15-1–S4H15-4. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-1923303221/cyberbullying-intervention-and-prevention-strategies
  3. Youth Risk Behavior Survey. (2015). Trends in the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to violence. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/trends/2015_us_violence_trend_yrbs.pdf
  4. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: a critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological bulletin, 140(4), 1073–1137. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035618
  5. Arslan, S., Savaser, S., Hallett, V., & Balci, S. (2012). Cyberbullying among primary school students in Turkey: self-reported prevalence and associations with home and school life. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 15(10), 527–533. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0207
  6. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: a critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological bulletin, 140(4), 1073–1137. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035618
  7. Cassidy W, Faucher C, Jackson M. Cyberbullying among youth: a comprehensive review of current international research and its implications and application to policy and practice. Sch Psychol Int. 2013;34:575–612
  8. Kids on Social Media and Gaming Social Media Apps and Sites Commonly Used by Children and Teens. (n.d.). Www.Stopbullying.Gov. https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/kids-on-social-media-and-gaming
  9. (Aaron, J. (2014, September 26). Cyber-bullying and video games. Https://Venturebeat.Com/. https://venturebeat.com/community/2014/09/26/cyber-bullying-and-video-games/).

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