Social Workers Against Cyberbullying
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As a coalition of graduate students about to enter the Social Work profession, we encourage the Kern County Superintendent of Education to recognize cyberbullying as a violation of the human rights of children and enforce the provisions of AB 2212 and AB 2536 in regards to discipline for perpetrators of cyberbullying. This petition was drafted on evidence-based research.
According to researchers, the average age a child registers for their first social media account is seven years old (Donovan, 2016). The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2015, 28% of children between the ages of 12-18 years old were bullied at their school; of these students 40% reported being cyberbullied (Press Office, 2015; YRBSS, 2016).
The consequences of cyberbullying can be fatal, as studies show an increased risk for suicide ideation (Mitchell et al., 2016). Moreover, studies indicate victims are at risk of depression, substance abuse, loneliness, and delinquent behavior (Nixon, 2014). As social work students, we know about the injustices in our society. Vulnerable populations such as children suffer the most because they lack the power to respond to negative events and inequalities. When cyberbullying is allowed to affect them without negatives consequences for the perpetrators, it tells those affected their lives do not matter to you, the administrator of their education. When you do not punish cyberbullying, and we believe it is a crime against a child, that child’s education is adversely affected. Therefore, you the administrator have failed not only the individual child, but also your community. Furthermore, this failure causes a strain on the families and social services agencies and other providers in Kern County.
In February 2015 some of your own students from Kern County forged the "You're Worth More" campaign. From their own research they found 76% of Kern County high school students interviewed have either been directly cyberbullied or know someone who has experienced it (youreworthmore, 2015). We see this as an institutional problem administration to find solutions for. AB 2212 and 2536 were passed to rectify this violation of human rights against your schoolchildren. We are aware of the language of both AB 2212 and 2536 and the responsibility it imposes on the office of the Kern County Superintendent of Education. We urge you to fulfill your office’s obligation to the students and communities of Kern County.
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