Since the launch of Facebook in 2004 – and even before Facebook became popular – there have been social networking sites such as MySpace, MyYearbook, and Twitter that have allowed people, students and teachers alike, to communicate to various groups of friends and other individuals. The sites allow people to post virtually anything, and in some cases, situations can get sticky.
Obviously, as a teenager, students don't always think through what they feel the need to say. We say things that we don't mean, or that come across the wrong way, and this can often bring problems. In some cases, these problems can turn into bullying. Face to face, these problems can often be brought to a school counselor, where students are able to face each other, and with guidance, address the issues with little resistance of denial of the issues at hand.
When these issues occur through Facebook and other social networking sites, the safety and happiness of all parties isn't that easy.
Not only does Facebook allow anonymity – meaning not everyone can see what you're saying, and if you choose, you can hide what you say from certain groups of people – but Facebook also gives you the ability to indirectly insult and humiliate someone without being outright about it.
Away from a school setting, the ability to invisibly insult someone is an advantage to most bullies. It gives them the opportunity to belittle someone and virtually have free reign because it is not in a school setting. This event, called cyber bullying, is more common than believed. In the 2008 to 2009 school year alone, 7 percent of high school students admitted to being bullied over the internet. Many of the people who are targeted by a cyber bully are lead to believe that, because the situation is happening outside of school, they cannot bring it up to a school official.
Recently, though, with the help of The Internet Keep Safe Coalition and the American School Counselor Association, Facebook has launched a resource guide called “Facebook for School Counselors” which educates school counselors in monitoring Facebook and watching for risky behavior, dealing with the online issues, and helping students overall represent themselves in a better manner.
This guide is not only helpful for schools, but needed. Students who are frequently faced with cyber bulling find it hard to handle these situations alone. Emotions run high, and things tend to get out of control. Students feel pressured, they feel as though they can't do anything about their situation, and the bully feels as though they have the ability to treat others as they choose. This isn't acceptable, and, after a period of time, someone has to step in.
New Facebook Effort Targets Educating School Counselors Article: http://education.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/04/16/new-facebook-effort-targets-educating-school-counselors
Written by: Kasey, 10th grade