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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Phenomenological Investigation of the Origination and Manifestation

"A Phenomenological Investigation of the Origination and Manifestation" by Michael Boyd:

Cyberbullying has gained a considerable amount of media attention in recent years (Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston, 2008). However, little is known about the details of cyberbully/cyberbullying victim relationships within the lived experience of victims. This phenomenological study investigated the origination and manifestation of the cyberbully/cyberbullying victim relationship. The study is phenomenological in order to examine the origination of the cyberbully/cyberbullying victim relationship and how the relationship is manifested in the lived experience of participants who were cyberbullying victims. The study examines the impact of the cyberbully/cyberbullying victim relationship from the theoretical perspective of Vygotsky's (1986) sociocultural learning theory and Maslow's (1943) hierarchy of needs. Research questions investigated the origination of cyberbullying from the perspective of the victim, strategies used by victims in coping with victimization, and the manifestation of cyberbullying online and in physical and psychological settings offline. Qualitative data were gathered through Second Life interviews, Twitter blog entries, and Second Life focus groups and analyzed to determine the impact of cyberbullying on eight recent graduates in rural Georgia. A hermeneutic approach to phenomenology was used in order to bridge the communication gap between students and educational administrators created by the rapid rise of information technology. The findings of this study indicates that cyberbullying arises from damaged relationships and causes strong emotional reactions in a vastly different holistic reality misunderstood by most educational leaders due to a generational divide.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bullying: Guidelines for Teachers | Teaching Tolerance

Bullying: Guidelines for Teachers | Teaching Tolerance

Stop Bullying Youth Leaders Toolkit

New resource to guide teens in their #bullying prevention efforts
 via @StopBullyingGov

The Digital Revolution and Adolescent Brain Evolution


Remarkable advances in technologies that enable the distribution and use of information encoded as digital sequences of 1s or 0s have dramatically changed our way of life. Adolescents, old enough to master the technologies and young enough to welcome their novelty, are at the forefront of this “digital revolution.” Underlying the adolescent's eager embracement of these sweeping changes is a neurobiology forged by the fires of evolution to be extremely adept at adaptation. The consequences of the brain's adaptation to the demands and opportunities of the digital age have enormous implications for adolescent health professionals.

Full text:

10 Interactive Lessons By Google On Digital Citizenship

YouTube has a firm place in the current classroom. From Khan Academy’s videos to YouTube EDU and beyond, there’s a reason all these videos are finding a home in schools. In an effort to help keep the ball rolling, Google just launched a set of 10 interactive lessons designed to support teachers in educating students on digital citizenship. A topic obviously quite close to Google’s heart.

Read more:

Guidance to Help School Bus Drivers Combat Bullying

U.S. Department of Education Provides Guidance to Help School Bus Drivers Combat Bullying

 Press Office, (202) 401-1576, 

Almost 10 percent of bullying related to schools occurs on school buses, yet many drivers don't feel equipped to handle bullying incidents on their buses. Training materials developed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Healthy Students provide guidance on how bus drivers can effectively respond to and prevent bullying.
Published in June 2011, the materials help bus drivers create a safe and respectful environment on our nation's school buses. The state-of-the-art information, which includes a palm card for drivers as an easy reference tool for actions to take, provides ways to intervene in bullying behavior, de-escalate threatening behavior, and build a supportive bus climate to prevent bullying.
Research from the National Center for Education, Evaluation and Regional Assistance indicates that, while 52.2 percent of the nation's roughly 550,000 bus drivers believe that bullying is a serious problem on their school buses, two-thirds of the incidents go unreported. Research also shows that the older the students are, the less likely they are to report such incidents.
Many states, such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Iowa and Arkansas, have used the training materials and are seeing positive results, according to the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT). NAPT's goal is that all bus drivers will be trained in how to prevent bullying on their school buses. To access the free materials, visit

Olympic hopeful banned from games for racially insensitive tweet | Technology News Blog - Yahoo! News

Olympic hopeful banned from games for racially insensitive tweet | Technology News Blog - Yahoo! News

Greek athlete learns that nothing you say on the internet can be easily washed away
When you're in the spotlight as much as Olympic athletes are, it pays to keep your personal opinions — and tasteless sense of humor — to yourself. Voula Papachristou, a Greek track star, learned that the hard way after she posted a racist tweet to her Twitter account which promptly got her banned from the games.
The tweet — which has since been deleted — was written in Greek, but roughly translates to: "With so many Africans in Greece... At least the West Nile mosquitoes will be eating home-made food!"
Once the Greek Olympic Committee learned of the cruel message, Papachristou was immediately removed from the country's roster. Once it became clear that her tweet wasn't as humorous as she perhaps thought it was, the Greek track star tweeted an apology:
"I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.
My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.
I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family."
Unfortunately for Papachristou, her much more eloquent atonement did little to save her Olympic dreams. Her next chance to compete on the world stage will come in 2016. [via The Next Web]
This article was written by Mike Wehner and originally appeared on Tecca

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Video: Students apologize to bullied bus monitor

Three of the four boys who were taped tormenting a school bus monitor have apologized for their behavior in statements released through police. NBC’s Craig Melvin reports from Rochester, N.Y. (TODAY)

Bullying In Schools Greater For Students With 'Observable' Disabilities

Students receiving special-education services for behavioral disorders and those with more obvious disabilities are more likely to be bullied than their general-education counterparts - and are also more likely to bully other students, a new study shows. 

The findings, published in the Journal of School Psychology, highlight the complexity of bullying's nature and the challenges in addressing the problem, said lead author Susan Swearer, professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Read more:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Digital Smarts Blog: Two Studies – Two Divergent Glimpses of Teens’ Attitudes About Life Online

Digital Smarts Blog: Two Studies – Two Divergent Glimpses of Teens’ Attitudes About Life Online

Two Studies – Two Divergent Glimpses of Teens’ Attitudes About Life Online

Two sharply different studies released this week offered glimpses into teenagers’ attitudes about their lives online. McAfee, the security company, said the teenagers that it spoke to were leery of too much parental vigilance. Two out of three teens said their parents did not need to know everything about their online travels, and half said they would amend their behavior online if they knew their parents were watching. In the other study, Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps parents navigate new technologies aimed at children, concluded that texting, tweeting, and checking a social network had become part of an American teenager’s daily rhythm, and on balance, represented a good influence in their lives. Half of the teenagers in the study said social networking had mainly helped their friendships, while only 4 percent said it had mainly hurt their friendships, and more than one in four said that social networking made them feel more outgoing. But, most telling of all was that teens’ frustrations with digital distractions are a lot like those of some adults. Nearly half of those in the study said they wished they could “unplug” sometimes. More telling, one in five wished their parents could too.

Digital Smarts Blog: The Scoop on the Facebook Reporting Tool

The Scoop on the Facebook Reporting Tool

Ever wondered what happens when you press the “Report/Mark as Spam” on your Facebook account? Recently, the company released an infographic that explains that process a little more and drew back the curtain on what happens when its users report to the site. The company has several teams that deal with different kinds of content, according to the graphic and accompanying blog post. There’s a Safety team, a Hate and Harassment team, an Abusive Content team, and an Access Team, which each deal with a specific type of reported material. The infographic doesn’t go into much detail about how the teams assess content, but does say that in some cases, teams check potential violations against Facebook’s community guidelines and, in cases where there is a credible threat of violence, will bring matters to the attention of law enforcement. Safety and security on the social network have come into sharp focus as it continues to consider plans to allow children younger than 13 onto the site. Consumer groups have already urged the site to ban ads to children 12 and under if it goes through with its plan, and others have raised concerns about the effect that cyberbullying could have on kids that young. Mashable unscientifically polled its readers on their opinions about Facebook for a younger set and found that 78 percent would not approve it, with many parents citing bullying as a concern.

Most kids 8 to 12 now have cell phones. Should yours?

Most kids 8 to 12 now have cell phones. Should yours?
Most kids 8 to 12 now have cell phones. Should yours?
Jul 11, 2012 12:15 PM
Nearly six out of 10 U.S. parents of children ages 8 to12 (a.k.a. "tweeners" or tweens) have provided those children with cell phones. And many parents are paying more than they expected to for phone service, according to the National Consumers League, which conducted a survey this past June that queried 802 parents. The survey showed that the top reasons parents had for buying phones for this age group are safety (84 percent), tracking a child's after-school activities (73 percent), and that the child asked for one (16 percent.) As for what kinds of phones parents are buying for their tweens: A perhaps surprisingly low 4 percent got a basic phone with no Web or texting ability. About half of tweens received a basic phone with texting; 20 percent got a basic phone with texting and Web access. And a lucky 27 percent got a smart phone. No surprise is that 82 percent of parents said that the price of the cell phone service was an important part of their decision. And 92 percent of parents said they spend less than $75 a month on their tween's cell phone service. But this study also found that parents in a third of households earning under $50,000—and a quarter of households overall—were taken by surprise at how much the tweens' phones are costing them. Some solutions being explored by parents include checking into parental controls offered by carriers to control costs, setting monthly budgets for kids, getting rid of the phone altogether, or switching to prepaid or postpaidunlimited plans. In a finding that might surprise a lot of parents who are considering getting a phone for their 8-to-12-year-olds, only 16 percent of parents reported conflicts with their kids over phone use. And fewer than one in 10 parents reported that the child's phone use intruded on family time or distracted from school work. Only 3 percent of parents reported improper use of a cell phone, as in sexting or cyberbullying. Finally, 89 percent of parents of tweens who bought cell phones for their child have no regrets. Source: Survey: Majority of 'tweeners' now have cell phones, with many parents concerned about cost [National Consumers League] If you're searching for the best phone for your tween or yourself, check our free mobile-phone buying guide at Consumer And be sure to read our story, "Buying a child's first cell phone: 5 reasons to think prepaid" for more guidance.
—Carol Mangis

Bullying suits put schools in a bind | Districts being sued by alleged bullying victims as well as accused bullies

Bullying suits put schools in a bind | Districts being sued by alleged bullying victims as well as accused bullies

Facebook Rolls Out New Tools To Fight Cyberbullying | ThinkProgress

Source: Facebook Rolls Out New Tools To Fight Cyberbullying | ThinkProgress

FACEBOOK ROLLS OUT NEW TOOLS TO FIGHT CYBERBULLYING | This week, Facebook is rolling out a new interface to assist users who may report inappropriate or unwelcome content in way that better connects to their emotional reactions. For example, teenagers will be able to click “This post is a problem” and proceed through some simple prompts to process how exactly the content makes them feel. Facebook then encourages them to take action; for example, someone more annoyed than fearful might send a pre-written message to the person who posted the negative content. Someone who feels more threatened would be prompted to get help from a trusted friend or adult, and resources will also be offered for individuals feeling suicidal. The goal of the new system is to help Facebook users take charge of their issues and actually communicate with others about conflicts.

Read more here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Text messaging and teens

"Text messaging has become the primary way that teens reach their friends, surpassing face-to-face contact, email, instant messaging and voice calling as the go-to daily communication tool for this age group. However, voice calling is still the preferred mode for reaching parents for most teens."

Read the full report:

Restorative Practices and Social Emotional Learning: A Transformative Approach to School Discipline

Restorative Schools Vision Project

Presents a Workshop on
 Restorative Practices and Social Emotional Learning:
A Transformative Approach to School Discipline
* August 16 & 17, 2012, in Sacramento, CA *

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: This 2-day interactive workshop will introduce participants to Restorative Narrative Practices and Social Emotional Learning, focusing on the success of these alternative approaches in school discipline.   We will discuss the applications of these practices in the context of Suspensions and Disparate Minority Impact, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Mental Health and School Climate, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, and Mediation. Other topics include Bullying Prevention and Response, Gender Issues, Circle Power, Human Rights, Neuroscience and Child Development.
RESTORATIVE SCHOOLS VISION PROJECT (RSVP): We are a Human Rights non-profit dedicated to achieving education equality by ending harsh punishment and the school-to-prison-pipeline. We believe that to achieve this goal we must replace zero tolerance based discipline with educating the whole child using restorative practices based on social emotional learning. Administrators, teachers, and other adults in the school community can learn how to create a positive school climate.  
THE TRAINERS:The workshop will be led by four main facilitators.
  • David Nylund, LCSW, PhD---David is Professor of Social Work at CSUS and Clinical Director of the Gender Health Center, a nonprofit counseling agency serving the LGBTQ community. He has authored many publications and books including “Treating Huckleberry Finn: A New Narrative Approach to Treating Kids Diagnosed With ADD/ADHD.” 
  • Stella Connell Levy, JD--Stella is the founder and president of RSVP. She has extensive experience in peace, human rights, and social justice work with special concern for children and youth.  Stella has worked for several years to bring Social Emotional Learning into the classroom and has facilitated many workshops in Restorative Narrative Practices.
  • Lisa Bertaccini, LCSW---Lisa has over 25 years of community mental health as both a clinician and a manager. She teaches Ethics and Client Rights at American River College. Lisa is committed to social justice and fostering positive, collaborative partnerships across diverse populations and programs. She also serves on RSVP’s Advisory Board.
  • Richard Jaffee Cohen, JD---As a law professor in New Zealand, Richard participated in development of Narrative Mediation. As a mediator, Richard has conducted over 1,000 mediations. He has taught Mediation, Family Law, Negotiations and Restorative Justice to law students, teachers, and collaborative professionals. Richard serves on the RSVP’s Board and the Working Group of Dignity in Schools Campaign.

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS: This training is approved for 14 hours of Continuing Education to Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and Social Workers (LCSW) by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE 3609). MCLE credits for attorneys are pending.  All participants will receive a Certification of Completion of 14 hours of Restorative Practices Training.                                            
COST: The cost of the training is $200, which can be paid by check or credit card.  The cost includes course materials and continental breakfasts.
LOCATION: The training will take place at 1414 K Street, Suite 500, Sacramento 95814. Thank you to The California Endowment for providing our venue.
DATES & TIME: Thursday August 16, and Friday August 17, 2012. Registration and continental breakfast begins at 8:30 am.  Each day’s sessions begin promptly at 9 am and end at 4:45 pm, with two 15-minute breaks and 45 minutes for lunch.
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: In order to give everyone a participatory experience, the number of places available will be limited to approximately 35.
The first 8 people to register will receive a book or a pie!

For more information and to receive the registration form, lease call Richard at916-213-5089 or email Stella at 

New Sexting Study | Cyberbullying Research Center Blog

New Sexting Study | Cyberbullying Research Center Blog: There is a new study on teen sexting that has been published (online at least) in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that is receiving tons of media attention. Most research that is published in academic journals is largely ignored by the media and the public, but for some reason this article has generated some interest. To be sure, articles and books that include the word “sex” in the title are likely to draw more attention. (See our new book, entitled “School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and SEXting One Classroom at a Time!”)

Read more:

Why Kids Bully: Because They’re Popular | Healthland |

Mean kids, mothers tell their wounded young, behave that way because they have unhappy home lives, or feel inadequate, or don’t have enough friends or because they somehow lack empathy. But a new study suggests some mean kids actually behave that way simply because they can.

Read more:

Why Kids Bully: Because They’re Popular | Healthland |

BullyPolice USA

BullyPolice USA

A Watch-dog Organization - Advocating for Bullied Children & Reporting on State Anti Bullying Laws

Findings from the National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying

Findings from the National Education Association’s Nationwide Study of Bullying: Teachers’ and Education Support Professionals’ Perspectives

This study of staff members’ perceptions of bullying represents an important step in enhancing our understanding of the perspectives of teachers and education support professionals. To our knowledge, it represents the first large-scale nationwide study examining different staff members’ perspectives on bullying and bullying prevention efforts. 

How to check a shortened URL to see if it’s safe to click

How to check a shortened URL to see if it’s safe to click | Tech and life

With so many URL shortener services out there, malicious websites are easily disguising harmful payloads by routing you to their websites via a shortened URL. Here is a website that can help you find out where those little guys are sending you (Step 1) and how to learn more about whether the site is safe (Step 2).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Help Protect Students from Cyberbullying

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Help Protect Students from Cyberbullying

Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Help Protect Students from Cyberbullying

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teens and technology

More focused anti-bullying programs in schools

I agree with the below excerpt, especially the final observation for why many bullying intervention programs are not getting results. Perhaps if we focus our efforts more on the relatively small number of identified bullies while teaching others about how to courageously confront/stand up for victims, we might get better results. The same is true if we can better reach out to parents/families of perpetrators. That is, address the whole school with special attention to the source.
Why are whole-school approaches to reducing bullying relatively ineffective? We contend that anti-bullying programs are struggling for five critical reasons. First, as noted previously, many if not most intervention studies have relied on self-report indices of bullying and victimization, which may not be sufficiently valid and accurate in detecting behavioral change. Second, most anti-bullying programs are not well grounded in a guiding theoretical framework that would inform program development and evaluation. Third, most fail to direct interventions at the social ecology that promotes and sustains bullying perpetration, such as peers and families. Fourth, many of these programs do not address the changing demographics of communities and fail to incorporate factors such as race, disability, and sexual orientation. Finally, schoolwide programs are designed to reach all students, when in fact a relatively small percentage of students are directly engaged in bullying perpetration (typically 10%–20% of students are the perpetrators of bullying). Schoolwide programs seldom include direct intervention for the perpetrators, who need to be taught how to engage in prosocial behaviors.

Source: New Perspectives on School Safety and Violence Prevention:
Susan M. Swearer, Dorothy L. Espelage, Tracy Vaillancourt, and Shelley Hymel
What Can Be Done About School Bullying?: Linking Research to Educational Practice
Educational Researcher January 2010 39: 38-47, doi:10.3102/0013189X09357622

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Facebook makes us feel good about ourselves

[ Back to EurekAlert! ]Public release date: 26-Jun-2012
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Contact: Keith Campbell
University of Georgia 

Facebook makes us feel good about ourselves

Athens, Ga. – People love social networks. That's the obvious conclusion from Facebook's 900 million active users and its current standing as one of the most visited sites on the web, second only to Google. New research from the University of Georgia finds what people may really "like" about social networking are themselves.
"Despite the name 'social networks,' much user activity on networking sites is self-focused," said Brittany Gentile, a UGA doctoral candidate who looked at the effects of social networks on self-esteem and narcissism.
According to the research, published online this month by the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the 526 million people who log on to Facebook every day may be boosting their self-esteem in the process.
Gentile, along with UGA psychology professor Keith Campbell and San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge, asked college students to either edit their social networking page on MySpace or Facebook or to use Google Maps. Those who edited their MySpace page later scored higher on a measure of narcissism, while those who spent time on their Facebook page scored higher on self-esteem.
"Editing yourself and constructing yourself on these social networking sites, even for a short period of time, seems to have an effect on how you see yourself," said Campbell, who heads the department of psychology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-authored the book "The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement." "They are feeling better about themselves in both cases. But in one they are tapping into narcissism and in the other into self-esteem."
MySpace reported 25 million users as of June 2012. MySpace users participated in the experiment in 2008, when the site had 115 million active users. Facebook users participated in 2011. On both MySpace and Facebook, students scoring higher in narcissism reported having more friends on the site.
A total of 151 students, ages 18-22, completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory as a part of the study.
"The NPI measures trait narcissism, which is a stable personality trait," Gentile said. "But spending 15 minutes editing a MySpace page and writing about its meaning was enough to alter self-reports of this trait, suggesting that social networking sites may be a significant influence on the development of personality and identity."
The differences in site format may be one reason why MySpace led to higher narcissism whereas Facebook merely produced higher self-esteem.
"The two sites operate differently," Gentile said. "On MySpace you don't really interact with other people. The pages resemble personal webpages, and a lot of people have become famous on MySpace, whereas Facebook has a standard profile and a company message that sharing will improve the world."
Several previous studies found increases over the generations in both self-esteem and narcissism. These new experiments suggest the increasing popularity of social networking sites may play a role in those trends.
"Social networking sites are a product and a cause of a society that is self-absorbed," Campbell said. "Narcissism and self-esteem began to rise in the 1980s. Because Facebook came on the scene only seven years ago, it wasn't the original cause of the increases. It may be just another enforcer."
Social networking should not be seen as an answer to building self-esteem, he said, but the fact that people may get a jolt when logging on doesn't mean they should stop either.
"Ideally, you get self-esteem from having strong relationships and achieving goals that are reasonable and age-appropriate," Campbell said. "Ideally, self-esteem is not something you should take a short cut to find. It is a consequence of a good life, not something you chase."

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Study: Kids with behavior problems, disabilities bullied more, more likely to bully others

Public release date: 2-Jul-2012

Contact: Susan Swearer
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Study: Kids with behavior problems, disabilities bullied more, more likely to bully others

Students with 'observable' disabilities much more likely to bully, be bullied in school

Students receiving special-education services for behavioral disorders and those with more obvious disabilities are more likely to be bullied than their general-education counterparts – and are also more likely to bully other students, a new study shows.
The findings, published in the Journal of School Psychology, highlight the complexity of bullying's nature and the challenges in addressing the problem, said lead author Susan Swearer, professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"These results paint a fairly bleak picture for students with disabilities in terms of bullying, victimization and disciplinary actions," wrote Swearer, a national expert on school bullying who has consulted with both the White House and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation on anti-bullying initiatives. "Sadly, these are the students who most need to display prosocial behavior and receive support from their peers."
The research followed more than 800 special-ed and general-ed students between the ages of 9 and 16 at nine different elementary, middle and high schools over time. More than a third – 38.1 percent – said they had bullied other students and 61.9 percent said they had not. At the same time, 67 percent said bullies had victimized them while 33 percent said they had not.
The study found that students who received special education services were at increased risk for bullying others, for being bullied, for being sent to the school office for disciplinary problems and for engaging in antisocial behavior.
In particular, students with observable disabilities – language or hearing impairments or mild mental handicaps – reported the highest levels of bullying others and being bullied themselves.
"The observable nature of the disability makes it easy to identify those students as individuals with disabilities, which may place them at greater risk for being the easy target of bullying," Swearer and her co-authors wrote. "Also, being frustrated with the experience of victimization, those students might engage in bullying behavior as a form of revenge."
Also among the study's findings:
- Students with non-observable disabilities, such as a learning disability, weren't affected as much. They reported similar levels of bullying and victimization as students without disabilities, and reported significantly less victimization compared with students with more outward behavioral disabilities.
- As general-education students who bullied others progressed through middle school, their bullying behaviors increased through and peaked at seventh grade – and then steadily decreased.
- Both boys and girls engaged in bullying. Gender differences in both general-education and special-education students were statistically insignificant when it came to the behavior.
- For students in general education, there was a major difference by grade level in their experience with victimization. Fifth graders reported much more victimization than sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth graders. But for students in special education, there was no difference by grade level.
The authors suggest several steps to address their findings. First, anti-bullying interventions emphasizing prosocial skills should be implemented for students, regardless of their ability.
Students in general education could help the process by serving as prosocial role models for students with disabilities. Also, the authors suggest, helping students with observable disabilities become better integrated into general-education classes may help prevent them from being bullied.
"Programming should be consistently implemented across general and special education, should occur in each grade and should be part of an inclusive curriculum," the authors wrote. "A culture of respect, tolerance and acceptance is our only hope for reducing bullying among all school-aged youth."

In addition to Swearer, the study was authored by Cixin Wang at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University; John W. Maag, professor of special education at UNL; Amanda B. Siebecker of Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic; and Lynae J. Frerichs, Ph.D. at Complete Children's Health.


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New Facebook app to detect pedophiles and criminals developed by Ben-Gurion U. researchers

[ Back to EurekAlert! ]Public release date: 6-Jul-2012

Contact: Andrew Lavin
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev 

New Facebook app to detect pedophiles and criminals developed by Ben-Gurion U. researchers

'Protecting User's Privacy in Social Networks' paper submitted for publication

NEW YORK, July 6, 2012 -- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) undergraduate students have developed a new privacy solution for Facebook. The Social Privacy Protector (SPP) can help parents adjust their children's profiles in one click, prevent criminals from garnering valuable personal information and keep teens safe from pedophiles.
The SPP "app" has multiple levels of protection, but the most important component reviews a user's friends list in seconds to identify which have few or no mutual links and might be "fake" profiles. The app analyzes each friend and scores the "connectedness" to every friend. It flags the lowest scores as suspicious and asks whether the friend should be restricted from personal user information, but doesn't defriend them.
"An important feature of our app is the ability for parents to better protect their kids' privacy with just one click instead of having to navigate the more complicated Facebook privacy settings," Michael Fire, a Ph.D. candidate in BGU's Department of Information Systems Engineering explains.
"While Facebook encourages connecting with as many people as possible, we advocate limiting users, and have, for the first time, provided an algorithm to scientifically determine who to remove from friend lists," Fire adds. "Predators rely on people friending anyone, and with teens now allowed to have Facebook accounts, we believe that our solution can provide necessary protection for all users."
The SPP also notifies the user about the applications installed on their profile that could threaten his or her privacy.
Fire, working with Prof. Yuval Elovici and undergraduate students Dima Kagan and Aviad Elishar of BGU's Telekom Innovation Laboratories and Information Systems Engineering Department, developed the Facebook application and software based on their research on Facebook and social networks in general. The app was part of a final project for Kagan's and Elishar's bachelor's degrees.
"Social media is an incredible phenomenon, but has significant pitfalls if used haphazardly, especially by teens," explains Doron Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion of the Negev (AABGU). "We're very proud of the fact that at BGU even undergraduate students have the opportunity to work with top researchers and can devise such an important app that could protect millions of youth."
The free software is available as a Facebook app for all browsers, and as an add-on for Firefox. The paper has been submitted for publication.
About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the U.S. For more information, visit

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