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Solution to help quell the bully climate on campuses: Look first to yourself

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Recently, YourSphere, a Davis enterprise devoted to cyber-safe social media solutions for youth, released a new social networking classroom platform for educators. Citing studies and surveys of educators struggling with a bully climate wherein they have become targeted by students and parents via verbal and physical aggression, cyberbullying, and damage to physical property, this solution is aimed at helping educators create a constructive environment for students and teachers to interact on-line.

According to the YourSphere announcement, this bully climate is the result of a lack of respect between educators and students because of the familiar way in which students interact with teachers – more like peers. It is recommended that teachers do not “friend” students until they have graduated, and that parents monitor their child’s social media posts for civility.

Lisa Ford-Berry, founder of BRAVE Society, a Carmichael non-profit dedicated to peer abuse awareness and prevention, observes that this bully climate is primarily a matter of adults not holding themselves and then others accountable for uncivil conduct. “I speak with a lot of teachers and I am told consistently that depending on the climate and culture of their school and or district that they see or have been on the receiving end of peer abuse by their own peers,” she said. “I also hear consistently from students and parents that in far too many cases teachers bully their students and they are powerless to stop it.”

Related reading: When high school drama becomes bullying and what to do about it

According to Ford-Berry, in many cases the bully experience is an abuse of power, whether it is a permissive or defensive parent and cyber communications that make it easy for students to avoid feeling responsible for their speech and actions, or teachers and administrators in positions of power to impact the experiences of the students and teachers, absolute power corrupts absolutely. “Any time you are in a position where you hold power over another how you wield that power says everything about you more so than what it says about the one without power,” she said.

Ford Berry also observes that the definition of what is rude, disrespectful, hateful and so on has changed. “I believe the biggest issue with peer abuse in any form is a lack of leadership and consequences,” she said.

Related: How ‘parental control’ can stop the bully

Thought leadership question for parents: How do you communicate and demonstrate to your child the standards for civil conduct on and off line?

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