Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cyber Bullying

As a teacher, I believe in opening up the lines of communication with students.  Most of my students do not have home support in terms of completing homework or understanding how to access basic information about the school system, so I share my phone number and e-mail address.  This year my phone and e-mail have been extra active as I have fielded questions about homework, applying to high school, parent meetings and lunch forms.  Over the weekend, I received an e-mail from one of my students who claimed to be a victim of cyber bullying by two of his classmates.

The report of cyber bullying did not surprise me.  After all, it is 2015 and schools have been dealing with this issue for years.  What did surprise me was the fact that the three students involved in this incident are my highest performing and best behaved students. The alleged victim sent me screen shots of the text messages that he received from two of his classmates.  As an English teacher, I was pleased to see that the students used the correct forms of your, you're and too in their messages (as well as correct capitalization).  As a morally intact adult, I was appalled to see the other language that was used throughout the conversation.  I cannot recall teaching many of those words in class and even had to Google some of them.

The ideas conveyed in the text messages have the potential to impact the school climate, which means that I will have to refer this to the eighth grade administrator.  I will most likely be involved in the investigation.  I have dealt with many issues when the students were issued ample warnings to cease certain behaviors.  The standard follow-up conferences with the parents were predictable.  The students involved in this incident have no known disciplinary record, so I imagine that the conversations with their parents about this are going to be awkward and difficult.  As an added bonus, this will be how I start my final full week before spring break.  Here's to hoping that this has a happy ending.  If not, let the countdown to spring break begin.

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