What is the principal’s responsibility with regards to cyber-bullying and sexting?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 | Learners, security

Principals know how to handle cases of unacceptable behaviour of learners in their schools.  Cyber-bullying and sexting are just different forms of misbehaviour.  Of course, they have just recently appeared on the radar of taboos in a school, made possible by technology, but they are merely contemporary manifestations of age-old problems.

The following suggestions may be of use to you while you’re grappling with these new challenges:

Recognize the reality of cyber-bullying and sexting.

These vices are more than likely already practiced in your school.  You could hide your head in the sand like an ostrich, but that will not make the problem go away.

You must understand exactly how cyber-bullying and sexting work.

How do learners use technology for these practices?  What are the various forms they take?  What tools do they use? What are the social networks available to them?  This implies that you must have a solid understanding of the use of different technologies, such as cell phones and social networking tools.

Let them know what you know.

It is important that your teaching staff, parents and learners know that you are aware of what is happening in your school.  You must be one step ahead so that you’re not caught by surprise.

Establish and enforce policies for acceptable behaviour.

You need to convince all stakeholders in your school to establish policies regarding cyber-bullying and sexting.  Call these vices by name in your document.  Publish the policy.  And don’t hesitate to enforce it!

Accept the fact that cyber-bullying and sexting are not technology problems.

Technology is only used as a convenient medium.  Don’t blame the technology.  Some principals feel that they should ban the use of cell phones in the school and curb the use of other forms of technology.  If you hope that such restrictions will stop the problem, you are mistaken.  Children will smuggle cell phones into school, or simply continue to use them at home.

Don’t despair about the way in which technology has complicated your life – think about the ways in which it has made your life easier.

For more tips for principles, click here.

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5 Comments to What is the principal’s responsibility with regards to cyber-bullying and sexting?

craig
Tuesday, 26 October, 2010

The suggestion that Principals and staff become proactive around the issue of sexting is a good one. One can envisage this topic being handled in a Life Orientation class.

Kobus van Wyk
Tuesday, 26 October, 2010

Excellent suggestion Craig, thanks.

Mark C
Tuesday, 26 October, 2010

While I agree with the proactive idea of what principals should do, I think it is an opportunity for all teachers discuss cell phone protocol. Over the weekend while teaching Physics learners noticed I had a Blackberry and soon we had a discussion on what can be done on it. I explained what and how I used it. My next question is…how do you use it and why? This allows me to preach a little. I did it before as a teacher in class to deal with other issues such as sexuality, bullying, etc. Coming to Physics was not only about Physics but other things too. Of course some of the things I discussed back-fired, but at least I dealt with it.

As for my teenager, he came to tell me what he saw on his friends cell phones. Instead of giving him a tongue-lashing I used the opportunity to discuss why it was not appropriate. He understands, but I won’t put it past him not to be curious or be involved “illegal” activities. I remind him all the time.

Also, the school he is going to has banned cell phones. They explained the issue and I agree with them. The problems which you have mentioned they discussed, but their issues lie more around digital intrusion, theft of electronic goods and children being robbed on or off school grounds while they are in school uniform.

The weak link in the whole discussion around the digital nastiness is….people.

[...] principal is responsible for establishing and enforcing policies to contend with cases of cyber-bullying and [...]

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