Where Cyberbullying and the Efforts of the Barbados HIV/AIDS Commission Intersect

 

Much cyberbullying is sexual harassment.  Conduct does not have to be sexual in nature to constitute harassment.  It can also include demeaning a person because by spreading rumors of being HIV positive whether true or false will add to the stigmatization we see associated with HIV/AID.  Some examples include using cell phones or the internet to target students with sexual epithets like “He Has AIDS” or “She HIV positive” disseminating compromising photographs of a student, or spreading rumors about a student’s sexual activity or partners.  Conduct too often dismissed as just “boys being boys” or “mean girls,” when severe, can actually be prohibited harassment.  Additionally the internet has been used to create the unwanted HIV/AIDS stigmatization that exist today.

 

We recognize that schools comprise children of diverse backgrounds and our projects aims for inclusion and ensuring no child is left behind or excluded in getting this important messaging. Our interactive sessions directly confront behaviors which threaten by cyber predators and bullies but also seek to impress that language and actions which stigmatize, discriminate, demean and vilify are not language that should be acceptable in our cultural norms. 

 

Our Response to Cyberbullying & HIV stigmatization in Schools

Sexual harassment and HIV stigmatization can come in the form of cyberbullying—can make the school environment hostile for a student when it is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with the student’s education or life, with a raising number of child suicides each year globally.  We believe that all schools in Barbados have an obligation to take effective actions to ensure hostile environments caused by sexual harassment and HIV stigmatization, prevent the recurrence of such harassment, and remedy its effects.  In addition, as a matter of educational policy schools should respond to cyberbullying, because students cannot learn and succeed if they do not feel safe at school.  A positive, safe, and respectful school environment is critical to student achievement, so it is in everyone’s best interest for schools to do all they can to detect, swiftly address, and ultimately deter cyberbullying and other forms of harassment.

 

 

What Our COP Program Teaches Students & Teachers Related To Combating Cyberbullying

There are a number of key themes emphasized in our COP program which include:

 

  • Do not just ignore allegations of cyberbullying, or treat it as just "kids being kids." Many serious incidents can be prevented if victims' cries for help are answered or rumors of harassment investigated more thoroughly.

 

  • Be proactive. Instead of just dealing with individual incidents of harassment as they occur, provide education for students and staff about appropriate behavior.

 

  • Contact the parents of the perpetrators so they can be involved with disciplining their children; also reach out to the parents of the victim to make sure they are aware of the situation and what you are doing to address it.

 

  • Make sure that any response to the conduct is tailored to the school environment. Courts have held that responses to harassment that are objectively reasonable but which the school knows are ineffective can constitute deliberate indifference, for which the school can be held liable.

 

  • Consider both classroom-based and school-wide interventions, including positive behavior interventions and support.

 

  • Make sure the burden of any actions taken to correct and prevent the harassment falls on the accused, not the victim.

 

 

What We Teach Students and their Families via the Classroom and PTA about Combating Cyberbullying?

 

There are a number of key themes emphasized in our COP program which include:

 

  • Don't respond to cyber-attacks with bad or risky behavior of your own.

 

  • Keep evidence of the harassment. For example, print out copies of harassing text messages and emails, keep harassing voicemails, and keep a record of harassing phone calls.

 

  • Immediately report the harassment to school administrators, including the principal and your school's Title IX Coordinator. Make sure the school has actual knowledge of the harassment, and ask the school to address it and prevent it from happening again.

 

  • Be persistent. If the harassment continues, make sure administrators know the harassment is ongoing and that you expect them to intervene and protect you or, if a parent, your child.

 

  • Keep records of the school's response(s) to your complaint(s).

TH!NK     |     CL!CK    |    SURF! 

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