01/11/12 When the decision was made for every student at Lincoln Junior High to have a computer to use throughout the school year, administrators knew teaching safety measures for use would be important.
Technology Integration Specialist at LJH, Amy Gerard, has been able to combine internet safety with an anti-bullying program. According to Gerard, the Bullying Academy of Miami, Florida allowed LJH to use their interactive program that was created to help students and educators recognize the dangers of bullying and cyber bullying free of charge. Gerard said, “Since Riverside Intermediate was awarded an honor last school year from an FBI internet safety program, the Bullying Academy contacted us for their program.”
As a part of the program, students test over the material that has been discussed in class. LJH 8th graders were so successful that the school is the recipient of the second contest cycle from the Academy, meaning that their scores were the best in the nation. For their strong showing, 8th graders will be rewarded with a $250 pizza party. Gerard said, “Mancino’s here in Plymouth is donating the extra pizza up and beyond the $250 limit for our 279 8th graders.”
The academy training was offered during instruction in a Social Studies class, according to LJH Principal Dan Funston. Areas covered included sexting (the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones), social networking, phone safety, computer safety, email accounts and Google Docs.
Bullying Academy Publicist Kim Morgan said, “Our primary emphasis is to inform students of preventative measures related to bullying as well as to develop effective communication strategies.”
Funston said bullying is somewhat different in this day and age. Referring to the use of internet social media, Funston said, “Kids don’t have to be brave anymore to be a bully.”
Indiana State laws define bullying as follows: Overt, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or writing communications transmitted, physical acts committed, or any other behaviors committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the other student.
The Plymouth schools have a section on bullying within their student handbooks.
Funston said the school does have an internet content filter on the computers and that they are continually screening computers for appropriateness, but feels strongly that parents have to monitor computer use. He said, “Parents have to know what their kids are doing online.”
Carol Anders Correspondent