Tag Archives: cyber bullying

Sears Tackles America’s Bullying Epidemic Head-On

AscentiveCyber safety news from the Ascentive team

Parents of the 13 million children who suffer from an acute bullying problem[1] can now find solutions at their fingertips. Sears has announced the launch of Team Up to Stop Bullying to address America’s bullying issue, which spikes as students return to classrooms and playgrounds. Team Up to Stop Bullying is the first solutions- and service-based anti-bullying coalition striving to provide immediate solutions that parents and schools can implement today.

“Team Up to Stop Bullying provides much-needed resources to parents, children, educators and communities and will help Americans understand that bullying is a not a normal part of childhood,” said Marie Newman, bullying solutions author and managing director of Team Up to Stop Bullying. “Every seven minutes a child is bullied at school and studies show that schools with an anti-bullying program see a decrease in bullying up to 50 percent. While there isn’t one fix to every bullying problem, there are solutions and services that work. Now, for the first time, there is one simple place to connect to those solutions at sears.com/TeamUp.”

Sears Team Up to Stop Bullying initiative aims to connect those in the throes of a bullying problem to valuable resources with solutions and services provided by a nationwide coalition of more than 55 organizations. The Team Up to Stop Bullying website, sears.com/TeamUp, provides easy access to hundreds of solutions and services for parents and schools from non-profits like: Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Hazelden, publisher of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program; National PTA®; Stand For The Silent; Solutions For Bullying; It Gets Better project; The BULLY Project and End to Cyberbullying.

Celebrities will also “team up” with the coalition to spread the word. The Kardashians, Marlo Thomas, George Kotsiopoulos, Kyle Massey, Jennifer Veal, Lee Hirsch (director of the new BULLY movie) and more, are lending their voices as Team Up to Stop Bullying ambassadors.

“When you’re on the front lines of bullying it’s hard to know where to turn to find immediate solutions,” said Lana Krauter, senior vice president and president of Sears Apparel. “Sears is proud to have created Team Up to Stop Bullying to help families and communities find solutions. We’ve built a tremendous coalition of partner organizations that, like Sears, raise their hand and say that children deserve to be protected and learn in safe environments.”

Sears encourages those affected by bullying to team up in three ways:

1.     Visit sears.com/TeamUp to Find Solutions to Bullying or Take the Power Pledge

  • Find a solution to your child’s unique bullying problem or find a service provider who can assist you or provide counsel in implementing solutions.
  •  Commit to stop bullying and support a movement for positive change in our schools by taking the Power Pledge online at sears.com/TeamUp. The pledge includes committing to never demean, humiliate or be disrespectful toward anyone, to be inclusive and accepting of everyone and to celebrate unique differences. Visitors can also donate to Team Up to Stop Bullying, which benefits non-profit solutions-oriented anti-bullying organizations.

2.     Buy the “BULLY” documentary T-shirt: Show your support with the Team Up to Stop Bullying T-shirt, available for $9.99 at sears.com/TeamUp. Sears is donating $3.75 from the purchase of T-shirts now through October 31, 2012 to Donorschoose.org to benefit The Bully Project®‘s 1 Million Kids program. Donorschoose.org is a charitable organization committed to working with The Bully Project to end bullying and The Bully Project is the outreach arm of the recent “Bully” documentary.

3.     Shop back-to-school at Sears: Sears customers can shop to stop bullying on Sears’ “Super Back-to-School Saturday” (August 11). Customers can download a one-day-only savings pass online at sears.com/TeamUp for 15 percent off on in-store purchases of apparel, footwear and fine jewelry. Sears will donate five percent of in-store purchases using the savings pass (up to $70,000) to its non-profit anti-bullying coalition of partners.

 

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Anti-Cyberbully Service Adopted by 100 Schools in 100 Days

AscentiveCyber safety news from Ascentive

SchoolMessenger today announced that demand for Talk About It®, its anonymous communication service, has been strong since the company’s official launch in January. Over the last 100 days, more than 100 schools have signed up for the service, adding tens of thousands of new students to a user base that already exceeds more than 300,000. A partial list includes: Birmingham City Schools (AL), Food and Finance High School (NY), Irving Independent School District (TX), Mobile County Public Schools (AL), Modoc Joint Unified School District (CA), Montgomery County Public Schools (VA) and Mt. Juliet High School (TN).

Originally launched in 2005, and currently in use by more than 300,000 students, Talk About It is the first and only anonymous communication service that allows students to ‘speak up’ by engaging in text or online messaging with trusted school staff members when on-campus threats, cyberbullying or other concerns occur which warrant attention. Using electronic communications, which are largely ubiquitous among today’s students, reduces the stigma of being seen reaching out to a counselor or faculty member or ‘snitching’ on a fellow student. Schools and districts find it provides students an effective way to break the ‘code of silence’ and initiate a confidential, two-way dialogue that can lead to immediate and actionable results.

“Giving students a comfortable way to communicate with teachers, counselors and administrators is vital to the safe, secure and productive learning environment we want to have in our schools,” said Dr. Dana T. Bedden, Superintendent of Schools for Irving Independent School District, which serves more than 34,000 students in 38 schools and learning centers in Texas. “If students don’t report an issue, then it’s likely to continue being an issue. With Talk About It, students can maintain their anonymity and feel confident that someone will be alerted, listen and then help resolve any problems or concerns.”

“We especially liked the idea of communicating with students in the way they communicate with each other, which is through text and online messaging,” said Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Superintendent of the Birmingham City Schools, which serves 25,000 students in 51 schools in Alabama. “Allowing them to anonymously communicate with an adult they trust will make them more likely to report things that trouble them.”

“Talk About It is a remarkable and unique tool that gives students an outlet for sharing their concerns without fear,” said David K. Akridge, Executive Manager of Information Technology for Mobile County Public School System. MCPSS is the largest public school system in the state, serving over 63,000 students in more than 100 schools and facilities across Mobile County.

“We are excited about the adoption of the Talk About It program as it will allow our staff to reach our students in the technology world — which is where they live — in order to engage in effective conversations with them,” said Mike Martin, Superintendent, Modoc Joint Unified School District, which is located in the northeast corner of California. “A top priority for us is a safe learning and working environment and we feel confident that the service will assist us in addressing this high priority.”

“In this time of high profile bullying incidents, Talk About It delivers an ideal means of communicating with anonymity, comfort and safety where our student body can feel free to speak out,” said Roger Turgeon, principal, Food and Finance High School in New York City.

“When we launched under the SchoolMessenger brand in January we had high hopes for continued growth of our business, but the last few months have far exceeded our expectations,” said Carter B. Myers, vice president of Anonymous Communications Solutions for SchoolMessenger and co-developer of Talk About It. “The fact that we have brought on board over 100 schools in just the first 100 days is a testament to the value that school leadership places on having a true two-way dialogue with students regarding bullying and other issues.”

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Pennsylvania Safe Schools Conference Tackles Bullying

ascentiveCyber safety news from the Ascentive team

The Center for Safe Schools has announced that nearly 500 stakeholders from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond will convene in Harrisburg for the fifteenth annual Safe Schools Conference May 8-9, 2012. The latest research in school safety and youth violence prevention; as well as effective program models and practices from state and national experts will be presented.

The conference provides school leaders and personnel, law enforcement and community partners with the tools to create a positive school climate; one that supports academic success, learning and teaching in a safe and nurturing environment.

“Specifically, the event includes practical resources and information to deal with safety issues that schools face daily –  bullying prevention, conflict management, emergency response and crisis management, and initiatives to address student mental health issues,” said Lynn Cromley, Center for Safe Schools director.

“The 9/11 documentary ‘REBIRTH’ is included as a tool to inform, enlighten and help professionals prepare for future disasters and better understand the impact of trauma on lives, schools and communities,” Cromley said.

The film is a riveting journey into living history – an act of personal witness to one of the most profound events in American history and the healing that has come in its wake. The result of a decade-long process by director Jim Whitaker, the inspirational story of “REBIRTH” follows the nearly ten-year transformation of five people whose lives were forever altered on September 11, 2001 – and simultaneously tracks via unprecedented multi-camera time-lapse photography the minute-by-minute evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once rose. Both a singular cinematic and human experience, “REBIRTH” is deeply intimate and uplifting – providing a moving portrait of how trauma and grief metamorphose into hope and rebuilding as the human spirit transcends the unthinkable over time.

“The entire Project Rebirth team, especially our five film participants, are pleased and grateful every time educational professionals use our film and film content in advancing their own missions. Applications to date have ranged from teaching the history of 9/11 to advancing the conversation about the need for improved disaster preparation and response in our schools,” said Brian Rafferty, Project Rebirth board chairman.

Following the screening, Project Rebirth’s Advisor for Public Safety and Education, Gregory Thomas, will lead a Q&A discussion about the film including school emergency preparedness and trauma. As the Executive Director of School Safety for the New York City Public Schools during the terrorist attacks, Thomas worked closely with federal, state and local officials to address security and disaster related issues that arose for the many schools in the lower Manhattan area.

“The educational mission of Project Rebirth has been its main driver since filming began six months after the 9/11 attacks: to educate future generations about the suffering of those left behind, and to highlight the strength of the human spirit in the face of the challenges they faced and met over the years,” Rafferty said.

The 2012 conference is presented by the Center for Safe Schools in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Equity Assistance Center; with sponsorship support from the Highmark Foundation.

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Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Sprint team up to fight cyberbullying

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Young people grow up hearing all kinds of safety warnings like “Look both ways before crossing the street,” or “Don’t talk to strangers.” But traditional safety tips are changing as today’s youth spend more time navigating an expansive online world.  Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Sprint today announced a strengthening of their work to educate young people and the adults who care for them about Internet and media safety.

BGCA and Sprint enter into their third year of working together with a $409,772 commitment aimed to highlight important online safety practices to nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. BGCA and Sprint will provide tools and resources to educate Club youth, parents and staff throughout the year with strong support around June’s Internet Safety Month.

This year’s funding will provide Clubs with a comprehensive media-safety strategy through the utilization of the NetSmartz and NSTeens programs, developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, along with resources that include media-safety discussion cards, social-networking and mobile-phone usage guidelines, and resources for Clubs to host their own Internet Safety days. Additionally, Clubs will be provided with teen-friendly video packages and media-safety articles, polls and contests for their members.

“Understanding media safety issues and knowing how to be safer online is critical for Club youth and parents,” said Judith J. Pickens, senior vice president for BGCA’s Program & Youth Development Services. “With Sprint’s ongoing support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will continue to find creative ways to educate our young people on how to safely navigate the online world and be proactive with protective issues surrounding online safety.”

The goal is not only to educate, but allow for interactive engagement among youth. Creative avenues to communicate critical information are provided, such as the recent “Caption This!” contest, which was hosted on myclubmylife.com, BGCA’s website for teens.

The contest provided five sample posters representing critical media-safety topics: cyberbullying, password protection and online information sharing, sexting, Web chat safety, and mobile-phone recycling. Participants were challenged to produce an original slogan for one of the posters, and the winning slogans will be used in an educational poster series to promote the importance of media safety to some four million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Sprint is pleased to continue its work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America,” said Ralph Reid, vice president of Corporate Responsibility for Sprint. “With so many young people accessing the Internet, it’s critical that they have ready access to information on how to stay safer; BGCA has been invaluable in seeing that this content gets into Clubs across the country.”

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Monitoring Service from Gaggle Protects Students from CyberBullyies

AscentiveInternet communication offers a rare window into the lives of students, which presents a tremendous opportunity to provide a positive environment for learning and development. Beginning July 1, 2012, Gaggle will include its Human Monitoring Service (HMS) as a part of its subscription service in order to better protect students and allow educators to focus on teaching.

The Human Monitoring Service puts the monitoring of blocked messages in Gaggle’s hands, eliminating the need for teachers to review questionable communications so they can concentrate on classroom instruction. The Human Monitoring Service greatly improves the safety and security of students, both online and in the real world. Gaggle’s HMS team has uncovered bullying, drug use, threats of school violence, teen depression, suicidal intentions, and abusive domestic situations. Detecting issues early allows parents and educators to intervene positively on behalf of students.

Director of Instructional Technology Cleon Franklin of Memphis City Schools, which currently uses the service, says the additional safety feature offers peace of mind. “The HMS team keeps the job of reviewing inappropriate content off our teachers’ plates,” he said. “An unexpected benefit of the system is the student safety situations that Gaggle has brought to our attention, even after school hours, allowing us to intervene and avoid potential tragedies.”

“Our top concern is student safety, and HMS makes it easier for teachers to protect their students in and out of the classroom,” said Shannon Sweeney, Cyber Security Agent at Gaggle. “Teachers don’t have to worry about monitoring the system themselves, giving them more time to devote to classroom instruction.”

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Patterson of Gaggle said, “This is the final puzzle piece that districts need to safely incorporate social networking into the classroom. Districts using HMS can be assured that communications are being constantly monitored and that safety concerns will be quickly addressed.”

Founded in 1998, Gaggle is a leading provider of safe online communication tools for schools. Gaggle hosts more than 3 million users in the U.S. and 23 countries. Based in Bloomington, Ill., the company is an expert in secure communications and offers proprietary technology and monitoring systems developed specifically for the school environment. Gaggle’s collaboration tools have won numerous education industry awards, including a prestigious CODiE Award in 2011 and Tech & LearningAwards of Excellence in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

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Strides To Stop Bullying Essay Event to Benefit the International Bullying Prevention Association

AscentiveInternet Safety News from the Ascentive team

Nancy Silberkleit, the seasoned anti-bullying and literacy advocate, is proud to announce the Strides To Stop Bullying Essay Event, a new anti-bullying initiative for 2012.  This inspirational event, open to students across the country, encourages youth to share their true stories and insight to raise awareness and stop the harm that bullying and cyberbullying can do.  Led by a panel including Former New York Governor David Paterson, Stan Davis of stopbullyingnow.com andNancy Silberkleit, the contest will raise funds for the International Bullying Prevention Association.  Selected youth will also have their story serve as the inspiration for a forthcoming educational, not-for-profit comic book written by Nancy Silberkleit. Selected essays may also be published anonymously in other ways.

Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie Comics, is using her educational training and experience to inspire self-confidence and strength in children of all ages.  The Strides To Stop Bullying Essay Event was conceived by Silberkleit as a way to create an inspired community while also furthering her philanthropic reach. She is currently working on a series of educational comic book focusing on children’s issues such as bullying.  She aims to share her words of strength and inspiration with today’s youth.  She advises, “Never let anyone define who you are.  You know who you are.”

The Strides To Stop Bullying Essay Event, open to all students across the country ages 8-18, will be open for submissions February 1st- May 1st.  To enter, children must write a 250-word true essay on the topic of bullying. They may send their own true story about what made things better when they were bullied, or how they supported someone else who was bullied.  These essays will be used as the inspiration for one of Nancy Silberkleit’s upcoming educational comics.  For the first 200 essays sent in, Nancy Silberkleit will donate $5 per essay to the International Bullying Prevention Association.

“Creating a school environment free of harassment and discrimination has been a long term goal of mine,” says Governor Paterson.  “I’m proud to further align myself with causes such as this contest that encourage our youth to speak out and unite against bullying.”

Children are encouraged to enter throughout the submission period by emailing their 250 word stories and essays to stridestostopbullying@gmail.com.

 

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CNCS promotes anti-cyberbullying efforts on MLK Day

AscentiveCyber Safety News From the Ascentive team

Momentum is building for the annualMartin Luther King Day of Service, as thousands of organizations across the country put the finishing touches on volunteer projects to bring Americans together to serve their neighbors and advance Dr. King’s dream of social justice and economic opportunity for all.

With the holiday just days away, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is urging Americans to visit MLKDay.gov to find volunteer opportunities in their communities and make MLK Day a “day on, not a day off.”

Projects will take place in all 50 states, including weatherizing homes, beautifying schools, serving meals, and supporting veterans and military families. Many organizations use the day as a springboard for year-round service, such as signing up mentors and tutors for at-risk youth.

A special focus of the 2012 MLK Day of Service is advancing Dr. King’s dream of economic opportunity.  In Philadelphia, a job fair will connect 500 people looking for work with prospective employers. In Dayton, Ohio, volunteers will offer help in job searching, resume writing, and interview preparation.  Members of AmeriCorps VISTA will fan out nationwide to raise awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit and offer free tax preparation services.

“Dr. King devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and economic opportunity for all, and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be,” said Robert Velasco II, acting CEO of CNCS.  “Now more than ever, we need to take heed of Dr. King’s teachings and work together to achieve his dream.  Volunteer service is a powerful way to strengthen economic opportunity. And when better to start than on the day we honor Dr. King?”

In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging the King Federal Holiday to be observed as a national day of service, and charged CNCS with leading this national effort.  This year, CNCS developed several signature initiatives, including a partnership with Scholastic to create and distribute MLK Day Curriculum for grades 3-5; new MLK Day videos and TV and radio PSAs featuring civil rights leaders; and working with faith, non-profit and community leaders to provide more than 2,000 MLK Drum Majors for Service awards to exemplary volunteers.

CNCS awarded MLK Day of Service grants to six organizations to lead service activities on the day, supporting more than 300 projects nationwide to meet local needs:

HOPE worldwide is mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the nation, focusing on fire prevention and preparedness. Partnering with a number of local Red Cross branches, HOPE worldwide is hosting fire prevention fairs, canvasing to raise awareness of fire prevention, and conducting smoke alarm inspection and installation.

Points of Light is focusing its efforts on meeting the needs of veterans and military families, activating more than 185,000 volunteers through subgrantee projects. From MLK Day America’s Sunday Suppers focused on veterans and military members in local movie theaters in Central California to the nation’s largest MLK service project in Philadelphia with more than 85,000 volunteers. Americans are stepping up across the country to service to connect veterans and military families to jobs and training, education, housing and health care.

Service for Peace is mobilizing more than 25,000 volunteers with a focus on engaging and helping veterans and military families across the country, focusing on a wide array of issue areas, including leading the MLK Jr. National Food Drive, school clean ups, house rebuilding and promoting and restoring community garden art. Through the 40 Days of Peace campaign, Service for Peace will be working to reduce cyber-bullying, crime and violence across America from Jan. 16th to Feb. 24th.

Mobilizing nearly 12,000 volunteers on more than 65 college campuses across the country, Wisconsin Campus Compact and its partners will focus on education, healthy futures, economic opportunity and disaster preparedness with events ranging from working with area food banks to hosting a community breakfast for local leaders.

Youth Service America will engage at least 50,000 youth volunteers on MLK Day through partner and grantee schools and community organizations. Young people, ages 5-25, will serve as part of programs organized by 16 MLK Day Lead Organizers funded by CNCS as well as nearly 500 other YSA grant funded projects. Many of these grantees will use MLK Day as part of a Semester of Service™, an extended youth-led experience of at least 70 hours of learning and service.

Cesar Chavez Foundation is mobilizing more than 6,000 volunteers throughout the southwest and western region of the nation, focusing on education through digital literacy programs, community educational events and service learning projects.

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