Anti-Bullying Apps Are Popular. But Do They Work?

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Despite nationwide efforts to foreground measures to stop bullying—together with annual campaigns like National Bullying Prevention month—bullying stays a severe public well being concern. Tech builders have responded to this disaster with, predictably, extra know-how. From apps that help mother and father in educating their youngsters about bullying, to know-how that purports to document and monitor incidents within the second, there is no such thing as a dearth of downloadable options for anybody in search of a response to this drawback.

I had already graduated highschool in New York City by the point the primary bullying prevention legislation was enacted in 1999. In the close to quarter-century for the reason that state of Georgia took the lead in criminalizing bullying, all 50 states have, in a single kind or one other, taken motion to handle this drawback. While I’m glad to see progress made on this entrance, it’s too little too late for many who moved by way of faculty with targets on their backs, as I had. It’s due to my very own experiences that I observe discussions about anti-bullying efforts with nice curiosity—and in addition a wholesome dose of skepticism.

The Tech-Based Elephant within the Room

As an educator, I’ve seen firsthand how faculty directors typically speak recreation in relation to their faculty’s “no-nonsense” or “zero-tolerance” bullying insurance policies. Walk into any faculty, and also you’re prone to see at the very least one anti-bullying poster hanging up within the halls, some even created by college students themselves. But as a trainer and a survivor of maximum abuse by the hands of a number of of my former friends, I do know firsthand that modern-day anti-bullying legal guidelines, insurance policies, and apps are solely as efficient because the adults prepared to implement them.

It stays true that not all faculty officers take bullying complaints significantly, as was the case with one faculty district in California that was just lately discovered complicit within the digital bullying marketing campaign in opposition to one in every of its college students. The district was ordered to pay out 1 million {dollars} in damages to the teenage sufferer. According to NBC News, “The gross negligence by School, Teachers, Principal, and District resulted in significant physical and psychological trauma to Claimant.”

As I encounter such tales, I can’t assist however ponder whether and the way anti-bullying know-how might make a distinction for victims, but in addition their aggressors. According to Kati Morton, licensed marriage and household therapist, media persona, and writer of the guide Traumatized: Identify, Understand, and Cope with PTSD and Emotional Stress, in counting on know-how to handle the issue of bullying, we’re wanting outward for options that could be inward. “I don’t really see technology being effective. We need to have more conversations, and this needs to be face-to-face with parents. We also need teacher intervention,” she stated. With cyberbullying defining a lot of how youngsters now expertise bullying, Morton believes that “we need to take solutions offline.”

It would appear, additionally, that some know-how has positioned the onus of discovering an answer squarely within the palms of the targets. Requiring victims to do extra work to attain security in areas the place security ought to be a given (equivalent to faculties) doesn’t appear proper to some psychological well being consultants. “We’re putting this responsibility on the person being hurt to download an app and take these extra steps. We need to deal with the people who are bullying. There need to be consequences,” Morton says.

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