Schools Adopt Cyberbullying Policies, Stemming Global Trends

To address current trends in social networking and the use of online services in education, many schools — like the Maryville City School in Tennessee — have revised their anti-bullying policies, updating their rules to include cyber-bullying.

Director of Schools Stephanie Thompson said that changes are needed to expand policies on cyberbulling – the use of telephone, Internet or email intimidation – beyond school property. But she says that enforcing it will require parents' involvement, writes the Tennessean.

Chris Michaud at Reuters reports that more than 10 percent of parents around the world say their child has been cyberbullied and nearly one-fourth know a youngster who has been a victim, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

The report showed that awareness of cyberbullying was relatively high, with two-thirds saying they heard, read or had seen information on the phenomenon.

"More than three-quarters of people questioned in the global survey thought cyber-bullying differed from other types of harassment and warranted special attention and efforts from parents and schools."

Keren Gottfried, of the global research firm Ipsos, which conducted the poll, said:

"The data clearly shows an appetite among global citizens for a targeted response to cyberbullying."

60 percent of participants in the poll believed that social networking sites likes Facebook are the most likely vehicles for cyberbullying. While 40 percent though mobile devices and online chat rooms were more likely to attract cyber-bullies.

Gottfried described the survey as the first global study of its kind and a benchmark to where assessments of cyberbullying vary, writes Michaud.

"The key to this study is that it measures parental awareness of cyberbullying, not actual rates of the behavior," Gottfried said.

"While we can't speculate on what actually happens, it is quite possible that the proportion of children actually being cyber-bullied is in fact understated, since we are speaking with the parents, not the kids."

The Maryville City School board will vote on the second and final reading in February.

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