As children enjoy the numerous benefits of the Internet, they are also constantly faced with a number of challenges, including cyberbullying. However, AT&T*, iKeepSafe, D.A.R.E. and Symantec today announced the results of a recent study that demonstrates the effectiveness of an innovative educational program launched last year to provide children with the knowledge and tools to respond to a cyberbullying situation.
The study, conducted by online safety expert and Educational Technology Policy, Research and Outreach Director (ET-PRO) Dr. Davina Pruitt-Mentle, found that:
The number of students describing multiple effective responses to cyberbullying scenarios increased by more than 43 percent. The program helped students understand that their negative action - such as telling the cyberbully to stop - may serve to antagonize the cyberbully into continuing their behavior; or deleting the message, can eliminate a source of evidence and a means to track the perpetrator.
Student recognition that they should tell a trusted adult when someone else was being cyberbullied went up 77 percent.
Students recognized the 3 Keeps of Internet Safety (online safety lessons taught by iKeepSafe), including not giving out personal information; they were taught the dangers of revealing personal information through online communication.
Teachers found the content relevant and timely, D.A.R.E. officers' depth and breadth of technical knowledge valuable in answers to students' questions, and students highly motivated and engaged during the movie and with the follow up discussion and group work.
The curriculum is taught to children in grades five and six during the school year by D.A.R.E. officers in classrooms throughout the country. Students are taught by DARE officers how to identify cyberbullying and steps the students can take to prevent and to combat it. Students learn to protect their privacy and reach out for help if they--or friends--become victims of cyberbullying. To date, approximately 3,200 officers have been trained to provide the instruction.
Hancock also noted that the study showed teachers responded positively to the program, that it has "filled the gap in meeting their immediate training needs, and proved to be an effective way to bring up stimulating conversation about cyberbullying and kept students' attention and interest."
The study included a select group of more than 1,100 students from sixteen private and public schools in urban, suburban and rural areas. Nearly one-half of the students surveyed were considered minority, including African-American, Native American/Alaskan Native and Latino.