Online Program

Social media and cyberbullying: Implementation of school-based prevention efforts and implications for social media approaches

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:15 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Shari Kessel Schneider, MSPH, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
Erin Smith, MPH, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
Robert Coulter, MPH, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
Lydia O'Donnell, EdD, Health and Human Development Division, Education Development Center, Inc., Waltham, MA
BACKGROUND: Legislators are increasingly requiring schools to take action to reduce cyberbullying, even though it most often occurs outside of school. Our study aimed to understand efforts to address cyberbullying in the school environment in response to recent legislation, and their implications for social media approaches to encourage positive use of digital media. METHODS: A systematic review of school anti-bullying policies and programs was conducted in 25 MetroWest Boston school districts recently affected by state mandates requiring schools to address cyberbullying. Twenty-four individuals responsible for school anti-bullying initiatives were interviewed, and 106 parents and youth participated in in-person and online focus groups. FINDINGS: The anti-bullying legislation mobilized schools to develop more systematic and comprehensive anti-cyberbullying efforts and justified the use of classroom time and staff resources to address cyberbullying. It also placed burden on school administrators to respond to increasing reports of incidents, educate parents and students about new policies, and train staff. Despite increased responsibility by schools, youth are reluctant to involve school staff in handling cyberbullying incidents. Parents and schools would benefit from additional information, support, and outreach from social media sites to keep up with the evolving and expanding role of social media in teens' lives and promote its positive use. CONCLUSIONS: School-based cyberbullying prevention efforts have strengthened in response to recent legislation, but ongoing support and training is needed to keep up with changing technology. Social media sites can play an important role in educating schools, parents, and youth to prevent cyberbullying and foster digital citizenship.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe school-based efforts to address cyberbullying and encourage positive use of social media; Discuss strategies schools, parents, and social media sites can use to promote digital citizenship.

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Throughout my career, I have studied trends in adolescent risk behaviors, including school bullying and cyberbullying. I was first author on an American Journal of Public Health article that examined the association of cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress. I was the Project Director for the grant to study school-based cyberbullying prevention efforts and have directed a longitudinal study of adolescent risk behaviors, the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, since 2006.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.