Educators discuss ways to tackle cyberbullying

From writing mean comments to sharing compromising pictures without someone’s permission, our devices have opened a whole new portal for cyberbullying. Parents and educators at Katy ISD spent Wednesday evening discussing ways to combat cyberbullying within their schools.

A snarky comment may take two seconds to post online but the effects it has on kids on the receiving end can last much longer.

Former teacher and counselor-in-training, Meg Blitch said she hopes to find ways to better help her 6-year-old daughter, after her now college-aged daughter dealt with bullying for years.

“Some of the things that were said were so hurtful and it caused certain people not to want to go to school, not to want to come out of their room,” Blitch said.

In fact, a survey last spring of 42,000 students at Katy ISD from 3rd grade through 12th grade revealed an uptick in cyberbullying, according to Edie White, the coordinator for bullying prevention.

“The results of that survey indicated that 8% of our elementary students, 13% of our junior high students, and 14% of our high school students have experienced some form of cyberbullying,” White said.

White said the district focuses heavily on intervention like relaying consequences and helping kids understand the other person’s perspective.

“We're not hard wired with empathy. It's something we have to teach. So using examples and sometimes their mistakes, is a good way to have them instill empathy, if they're able to step into that other person's shoes,” White continued.

“Helping junior high students understand that when you took that embarrassing photo of a friend and you send it to a bunch of people, and it embarrassed them, that it hurts them but it also doesn't really go away, it's still there,” said junior high principal, Dr Kris Mitzner. ​

Apps like Instagram have rolled out new, anti-bullying features that help encourage positive interactions. Using artificial intelligence, Instagram will pop up an “intervention filter” that asks cyberbullies—“are you sure you want to post this?”