Stop CyberBullying Day: Some Advice and Inspiration from the Blogosphere

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First off, I want to thank Andy Carvin for organizing this day and the ning site and leading by example - showing us how to take an issue and integrate the use of new social media tools!  Also, hats off to Lisa, Jory, and Elisa (as well as to my fellow CE editors) for posting such brilliant thoughts about this topic. 

Andy's post yesterday describes how he is experimenting incorporating the use of Twitter into this campaign.   He hasn't neglected the traditional tools either - yesterday he and I as well as Elisa Camahort were interviewed on the BBC about this issue.

This issue is so massive that it is going to take an ongoing effort from many different angles -- educatiing young people with help from teachers and parents as well as everyone who is using the Internet now - to model good behavior and continue to the dialogue around this.   I also think that those who make the tools need to have awareness of this too. 

As I think about my own children getting to the age when they will use the web, I'm trying not to get too depressed about what educators have said about this growing problem of cyberbullies over at the Stop CyberBullying site.  Yet, I have only to click over to Vicky Davis and I'm inspired.

Here's her advice for educators, students, and parents on how to stop Cyberbullying Today!:

  • JOIN the Stop Cyberbullying networkto
    create a central repository of information that is rated and reviewed
    by educators and to discuss what works. View it like the front lines
    establishing a form of communication. (If the network is blocked, I've
    got a template on my blog
    that you can mail your IT person to ask for it to be unblocked.) After
    joining, post hyperlinks or review and comment on the resources of
    others, join the conversation.
  • SHARE -Plan to show this video to your students
    during the next several weeks and talk about the importance of telling
    someone when they are being harassed online. (You can also see a wealth of other videos collected at the Stop Cyberbullying Network)
  • REPORT - Every little BIT
    helps. When you see someone inappropriately attacking another blogger
    either on comments on or a blog, say something! (Often we DON"T see it
    because of comment moderation.) We often don't say things because we
    are afraid. Afraid that some "nut case" is going to come after us.
    However, if we agree that we will all band together and speak up. If we
    are afraid to "stand up," Wired Safety has a Cyber 911 tipline that you can also use.
  • SPEAK - Use a badge from Scott McLeod on your blog and hyperlink it to http://stopcyberbullying.ning.com, or just copy the link and image from the picture.  Post and share the facts from the experts and tag it <a
    href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/stopcyberbullying"
    rel="tag" >stopcyberbullying</a>. Speak up in your sphere of
    influence: the classroom, the PTO, the civic group, the government
    agency, the educators organization. Make sure this is a topic that your
    teachers learn about and understand. We must become a cacophony of
    voices speaking out about how to be wise, civil, and successful online.
  • BE AN ADVOCATE FOR WISDOM - When the leaders of the Dark Ages became afraid of thoughts and dissension, they burned books.  We cannot afford to burn blogs (as ill-thought out DOPA would do) and the trail we have blazed into a new, more productive society through the Internet's new communication tools.  The Human Genome project
    shows what amazing things can happen through collaboration. If we want
    important breakthroughs to happen faster, we must promote effective
    techno-personal and collaborative skills in the classroom. We cannot
    walk away and ignore the fundamental change in our society:
    Internet-enabled communications. Those who are vicious and hateful will
    not walk away from the Internet. It is imperative that the level headed
    and wise should not abdicate their responsibility to civilize the
    Internet and make it a safer place.

Some advice on what's needed on the Web/Blogopshere for the here and now for adults .... about civility!

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Created by Scott Mcleod

David Weinberger wrote about the lack of norms of behavior on the Web.  He has suggested that we create a No Bullies Pledge - that is self-regulated similar to Creative Commons licensing and that clarifies the codes (or "rules of engagement") people already have on Web.  He started a list of items that people wouldn't tolerate, although admittedly it is complex because of all the shades of gray and people's different levels of tolerance.

Here's a start:

1. Threats of physical harm.
2. Violent imagery.
3. Name calling.
4. Targeting a single person.
5. Ethnic, racial or gender slurs.
6. Bad language directed at a person.
7. Violent or threatening images.
8. Arguments directed at the person rather than at the ideas.

Marianne Richmond over at Blogher, comments

Online and off, we seem to have lowered our standards of civility.
Perhaps we all need a good hard look in the mirror. Can we make our
points, based upon their merits without  using a label or an
insinuation to discredit those who disagree; can we listen to an
oposing point of view without feeling the need to silence the voice of
disagreement?

The discussion thread on civility reinforces the complexity of this topic.   As noted, there are people's difference tolerances levels as well as people's difference levels of self-awareness.  There is also the fact that we're using text and we loose the body language that provides more context and meaning.  One person's typed remark could be taken as a slur even if the person didn't intend it in that way or lacked some self-awareness in writing and self-control in posting it.

I also really appreciate how some bloggers have posted their own code of ethics.   Liz Ditz shared her blogging principles and pointed to her inspiration from Lisa Williams.  I've been struggling with writing something for this blog and I'm glad I have two excellent role models.

There is also a distinction to be made between cyberbullying and online sexual harrassment as Elana points out on BlogHer.   Lisa Stone has reposted a piece she wrote several months ago about ignoring words that hurt. She also provides
resources for reporting threats to police, where appropriate.  She asks "Now, after the events of this week, what would you add?" 

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