Parents, teachers, schools, and communities have a role to play in helping kids deal with cyber-bullying. But what role does the government have?
I have a short peer-reviewed comment paper, published this month, proposing a different way of thinking about the cyberbullying problem. We need to make sure that governments, in their zeal to tackle bullying, do not limit the social learning that is crucial to child development.
First, cyberbullying is not a new form of social activity but rather one new form of bullying. Second, how we conceptualise cyberbullying in relation to traditional bullying will affect our policy approach. Such a subordinate categorisation helps us to direct the possible policy and social responses away from technological or legal responses, which focus on the characteristics of new technologies, and towards the relationships of children in as much as out of school. It also helps to avoid a false sense that by targeting specific forms of expression the bully problem is being tackled. Finally, this approach has the advantage of clarifying the costs of anti-cyberbullying policies, and underlines the importance of respecting the rights of children both to be protected from bullying as well as to develop their identities.