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

Despite nationwide efforts to foreground measures to forestall bullying—together with annual campaigns like National Bullying Prevention month—bullying remains a serious public health issue. Tech builders have responded to this crisis with, predictably, extra know-how. From apps that help mother and father in educating their youngsters about bullying, to know-how that purports to file and observe incidents within the second, there isn’t any dearth of downloadable options for anybody searching for a response to this drawback.

I had already graduated highschool in New York City by the point the first bullying prevention law was enacted in 1999. In the close to quarter-century because the state of Georgia took the lead in criminalizing bullying, all 50 states have, in a single type or one other, taken action to address this problem. While I’m glad to see progress made on this entrance, it’s too little too late for individuals who moved via 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 likewise 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 with regards 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 utmost 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 keen 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 lately discovered complicit in the digital bullying campaign against one of its 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 wonder if and the way anti-bullying know-how might make a distinction for victims, but additionally their aggressors. According to Kati Morton, licensed marriage and household therapist, media personality, and author of the e book Traumatized: Identify, Understand, and Cope with PTSD and Emotional Stress, in counting on know-how to deal with the issue of bullying, we’re wanting outward for options that may 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 mentioned. 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 fingers of the targets. Requiring victims to do extra work to realize security in areas the place security needs to be a given (comparable to faculties) doesn’t appear proper to some psychological well being specialists. “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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