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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Land O'Lakes High gets serious about cyberbullying



While many Pasco County families got notes last week reminding them to have their kids well rested for this week's FCAT, parents at Land O'Lakes High got another more pointed message about cyberbullying.

"Our school prides itself on providing a safe learning environment for its students," principal Ric Mellin wrote (letter attached below). "An emerging concern both here and nationally is the inappropriate use of the Internet by students. This problem has the potential to be harmful, and we ask your support in assisting us with this challenge."

Mellin warned of the potential downsides of sites like Facebook, and urged parents to remain vigilant in paying attention to what their kids do online. The school, he added, will do its part.

"The school will continue to take a harsh stance on violent acts that result from Internet harassment, bullying, or any type of aggressive act that occurs in school," he wrote. "This is seen as a serious and dangerous situation that warrants an out-of-school suspension and possible recommendation for expulsion from the school district.  In addition, because we take a “zero tolerance” approach for violence, all situations are referred to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department."

A new book from Florida Atlantic University says the link between school and home makes a big difference in cyberbullying. Schools with better climates generally have students who experience fewer online behavioral problems at home, and more teachers who are willing to discuss the issues with their students, FAU researcher Sameer Hinduja found.

"There is little question that what goes on online affects what happens at school and vice versa," Hinduja said in a news release.  "While our research shows that most teens use technology in a safe and responsible manner, some do make mistakes or use technology in ways that create significant problems for others. These behaviors must not be ignored.  With the right tools, educators have the power to creative a positive climate and even bully-proof schools at school and online."

What are your schools doing to combat cyberbullying? What can parents do to better support the effort?

[Last modified: Monday, April 16, 2012 2:32pm]


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