Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “Cyber-bullying”

Teach children to be trustworthy

Two articles about digital citizenship caught my attention today.

The first was on the Mindshift blog and asked how schools and parents should be involved in kids’ online lives.

The author, Matt Levinson, acknowledges the blurred lines between home and school information when that information is online.  He asks whether schools should be involved in what students do online when they are not at school and concludes that there is enough overlap between the school and home online worlds that it is reasonable for schools to involve themselves.

His focus in that post is on open social media sites.

He advises that instead of instilling a stranger-danger-type fear into children, schools and parents should encourage children to ask themselves some questions about what sort of contact with strangers is appropriate and what sort of response to make if contacted online by a stranger.

What can we do to stop cyber-bullying?

What can we do to stop cyber-bullying?

The second article came from the Sunday Mail.  Cyber bullies turn web into the superhighway to hell by Kylie Lang explores three disturbing cases of teenage suicide after cyber-bullying.

Ms Lang concludes that there is valuable advice to be found on protecting children through the use of filters and monitoring but asks whether there is a bigger question that we are not asking…

doesn’t our children’s use of technology also come down to how they are taught in the first place to respect themselves and others?

Ms Lang goes on:

Social media might be a new form of communication but the old rules apply: treat others as you’d like to be treated; if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t say it at all.

The best way to deal with a bully is to ignore them, and if you can’t, report them.

Cyber-bullying expert Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell, of Queensland University of Technology, says it is essential for teachers, parents and students to “create a culture of reporting”.

In other words, let’s teach them to be good digital citizens.

We can’t assume that children will act in a trustworthy and respectful way if we haven’t taught them how to do so.

photo credit: <a href=””>Dia™</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;


Trust Story 3 (Student-Teacher)

Tom used to miss a lot of school, was often tired when he did come, sometimes didn’t smell too good, rarely completed his homework, had big holes in his socks and didn’t have strong social skills.  He had at times been the target of bullies.

One day he said to me, “Mrs K, you’re my favourite teacher”.  I replied, “Oh, I bet you say that to all your teachers”.  He responded “Well, yes I do but I like them all”.

This conversation was pretty early in the school year so it obviously doesn’t take long for Tom to decide that he likes his teacher.   It’s against the law of averages for Tom to have had an equally caring teacher every year of his school life so I think it’s his way of expressing that he trusts us and feels comfortable with us.  School is the predictable and reliable part of his life.

In Tom’s household there is a changing procession of inhabitants.  Not much is constant or predictable.  He is fed and clothed and given some attention but that’s about as far as it goes.

Every teacher has taught a Tom at some point in their career. Some have taught many Toms.  There are some schools where the entire student population is made up of Toms.

Out of sight

Difficult family dynamics often influence young people engaging in risky online behaviour.

Tom sometimes mentioned an M-rated movie that he had watched or game that he had played and also sometimes mentioned the early hour of the morning he had played or watched it.  At 10 he was still fairly innocent but I feared that as he got older, his online activity would continue to be largely unregulated.

Research on cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying and risky online behaviours are some of the issues that get a lot of press when it comes to talking about children and their use of technology. Cyber-bullying and stalking certainly happen as do instances of young people accessing inappropriate content, and sharing and posting information and photos which should remain private.

However some research by the Berkman Center found that children who are most at risk online “often engage in risky behaviors and have difficulties in other parts of their lives. The psychosocial makeup of and family dynamics surrounding particular minors are better predictors of risk than the use of specific media or technologies”.

Children who are helped by their families to develop healthy digital habits are not likely to be the ones who run into difficulties online.  It’s more likely to be the children like Tom.

Schools cannot change the dynamics of a student’s home life.  What a school can do is make school a safe place for all members of its community, a place where members feel trusted and able to trust, and do something to help children to develop those healthy digital habits.


Photo credit: <a href=””>Mark J P</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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