Cyberbullies

The National Crime Prevention Council defines cyberbullying as: “When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” The increasing use of these technologies by children has led to an increase in the occurrence of cyberbullying, with often devastating and violent consequences. Cyberbullying is a problem that can’t be ignored. Research indicates that almost half of all teens have experienced cyberbullying. One in four have had it happen more than once. And 35% of kids have been threatened online. In many cases, cyberbullying can be more extreme and damaging than other types of bullying because of the anonymity on online personas and the prevalence of the Internet in children’s lives. Bullies can feel protected by the Internet, and may therefore be more vicious. The bullied students may not know the attacker, and may feel powerless to fight it. In addition, cyberbullying can occur 24 hours a day, anywhere, without the protection of home or school walls.

Types of Cyberbullying

  • Flaming. Online fights using electronic messages with angry or vulgar language.
  • Harassment. Repeatedly sending nasty, insulting messages.
  • Denigration. “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his/her reputation.
  • Impersonation. Pretending to be someone else and sending/posting material to get that person in trouble or damage their reputation.
  • Outing. Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.
  • Trickery. Tricking someone into revealing secrets/embarrassing information then sharing it online.
  • Exclusion. Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone.
  • Cyberstalking. Repeated, intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.

Best Practices for Preventing Cyberbullying

1. Create policies and educate users. As part of their policies for acceptable use of the Internet and other technologies, schools should address cyberbullying. In addition to educating students and faculty on what cyberbullying is and why it will not be tolerated, specific guidelines for acceptable communication and clear consequences for cyberbullying behavior should be laid out.

2. Prevent the use of inappropriate sites or the sending of inappropriate messages. Some sites, such as unmoderated chat rooms, have been shown to be particularly prone to cyberbullying. By blocking, or limiting access to such sites, cyberbullying from the school network can be prevented. Also, blocking access to sites with inappropriate content and blocking messages that contain inappropriate words can help prevent cyberbullying. Because students are often adept users of technology, it is also important that Internet filters employ sophisticated means to prevent users from bypassing Internet filters with proxy tunnels.

3. Monitor adherence to policies and adjust as necessary. To ensure that policies are being adhered to, it is important that suspicious browsing, emailing, attachments, and instant
messaging be regularly reviewed. When inappropriate behavior is identified, policies and filters should be adjusted to stop that behavior.

4. Preserve the evidence. In order to investigate instances of cyberbullying, schools should keep records of inappropriate behavior and archive email messages. This information can help school officials talk with students, as well as inform legal authorities, should they need to be involved in serious cases.

Preventing Cyberbullying with BorderLAN

BorderLAN is committed to helping schools maintain the safety and security of their networks, in order to create an effective 21st-century learning environment. Our solutions help schools address the issues that impact the use of the network and the Internet while ensuring a balance between safety and learning.

To prevent, identify, and address cyberbullying issues in your school, BorderLANoffers best-of breed solutions with essential features for filtering, monitoring, and reporting on user behavior.

Prevent

Preventing certain communications and browsing behaviors can reduce the possibility of cyberbullying on your school network. With BorderLAN you can prevent behavior that could lead to cyberbullying:

  • Keep users from bypassing your filter and accessing blocked sites with multiple layers of secure, unsecure, and anonymous proxy detection and blocking
  • Block web sites categorized as containing adult and pornographic subject matter, and web sites categorized as promoting violence, hate, and weapons
  • Block web sites categorized as containing unmoderated forums, instant messaging services, web mail services, chat and dating services, as well as personal and social networking services.
  • Block web sites promoting and/or supporting illicit and illegal network intrusion and infiltration
  • Filter mobile users of school computers with the Guide Mobile Filter, which provides filtering protection – without a VPN, from any location with any type of Internet connection
  • Filter email content to ensure that communications do not contain offensive material or keywords

Identify

Early identification of cyberbullying can minimize the impact and consequences of the behavior. With BorderLAN, you can monitor user behavior and identify possible cyberbullying with:

  • Comprehensive and customizable reporting and alerts for suspicious activity on the network
  • The ability to drill-down to investigate the browsing and messaging behavior of individual
    users
  • Searching on specific keywords related to hate, violence, or other inappropriate content

Address

Should cases of cyberbullying be identified, documentation and adjustment of policies can allow school officials to effectively address the situation. With BorderLAN, you can be equipped to address cases of cyberbullying with:

  • Archival of inbound and/or outbound SMTP traffic, AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) and MSN Messenger, and attachments (including documents, programs, and multimedia files)
  • Message file storage with indexing parameters for: From, To, Subject, Date, Keywords, and Body Text
  • The ability to modify policies for specific users
  • The ability to integrate your BorderLAN solution with your Student Information System (SIS) for a complete view of individual student activity and progress