Parents, Administrators Must Keep Watch

Published February 1, 2006

Since cyber bullying is a relatively new practice for adolescents, parents and school administrators seldom know exactly when it occurs.

“Many schools have good filtering systems, helping prevent cyber bullying from within the school building,” said Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists, while acknowledging experts are not yet certain about where cyber bullying originates most frequently. “But kids are becoming more and more skilled at bypassing systems, and frankly, there are some schools not prepared to handle this type of discipline problem. It is thought at this time, though, that most cyber bullying originates from community or home computers.”

Both Feinberg and Dr. Justin Patchin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire who co-wrote a survey on cyber bullying in 2004, advise parents to be as involved as possible in their children’s computer activities. Patchin noted most adolescents in his study said they concealed cyber bullying from their parents.

“Many parents are not as knowledgeable about computers and the Internet as their kids and therefore find it difficult to supervise their online activities,” Patchin said. “Parents need to be proactive and learn about the Internet. They need to go online with their kids and talk with them about what they see and with whom they communicate online. Parents must recognize when their children’s proficiency and use reach a point where a discussion concerning cyber bullying is warranted.”

— Kate McGreevy