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Schools Focus on Cyberbullying Awareness

Tucson school districts are placing a bigger focus this year on educating students about appropriate online behavior. Under the federal Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, schools must update their codes of conduct to include cyberbullying awareness and response, as well as instruction on interacting on social networking sites.

Representatives from the schools say that they have already been integrating internet safety into their everyday lessons, and that they have done so informally, such as discussing Facebook in career counseling. Cyberbullying awareness for both bullies and victims are addressed, as well as the consequences of misuse. Any form of bullying or harassing is considered a Level 3 offense; consequences can include parent conferences, suspension, detention, and even notifying law enforcement.

The Tucson Unified School District has teamed up with the Attorney General’s Office, which will provide free instruction to students about what is covered in the protection act regarding bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment. Another district, Sunnyside Unified School District, has updated their code of conduct to include sections on sexting, bullying, and cyberbullying. They also offer workshops for parents on how to monitor their children online. Assistant Superintendent, Jeannie Favela, says, “We work with parents and law enforcement if there is suspicion about cyberbullying on social media.”

Principals and staff at 17 schools in the Marana Unified School District are now required to complete annual bullying and cyberbullying awareness training, and counselors are required to conduct bullying awareness lessons in the classroom.

There are incentives, such as funding, for these schools to comply with new requirements. E-rate funding, which covers about 75-80% of the cost of internet access, requires that districts update their policies and states that schools risk losing funding if they do not comply.

Source: Huicochea, Alexis. “Tucson-area Schools Take Aim at Online Bullying.” Arizona Daily Star. N.p., 30 July 2012. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://azstarnet.com/news/local/education/precollegiate/schools-take-aim-at-online-bullying/article_3c775650-b45e-523d-91f7-df5d09a3def4.html>.

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