On-line bullying has been a concern as long as the web has been around. Yet only now, with the proliferation of social networks, is it really getting its due. Today’s New York Times has an outstanding article on cyberbullying and the confusing and inconsistent ways that schools are being asked to respond. I highly recommend this well written piece.
The central conundrum is that cyberbullying almost never takes place on school sponsored networks and equipment. Yet the bullying clearly has a direct impact on students, their interactions in the building, and their academic performance.
In old fashioned bullying physical presence was required. Because kids spent most of their day at school a great deal of it happened in the building. That gave schools a clear and well defined role in intervening and managing bullying – even if many didn’t do a great job of it. At least the law and the expectations were clear.