Have you ever read one of those emails that just got under your skin? You know that email or post that just elevated your blood pressure to the point where you felt like your head was going to explode? You then frantically type out a response and hit the send button only to think, “What did I just do?” Well, you are not alone. I, like you, have made that mistake more times than I care to admit. Unfortunately, many hide behind the tools of communication to negatively impact the lives of others and it’s happening way too much.
October is National Anti-Bullying Month. The reason a month is dedicated to anti-bullying is because of the growing number of students that feel like they have no escape from being bullied so they commit suicide. I don’t know about you, but never in all my years as an educator would I ever have thought it would get to this point. Who is responsible for bullying prevention? Educators? Students? Parents? Community members? Yes! We areall responsible. We make it matter!
I am a strong believer in the use of social media to connect with others personally and professionally. However, with the exponential growth of Facebook and Twitter, camera phones, and the ability to instantly post comments, bullying has become easier and the messages are amplified.
Last spring, our Student Council held Peace Week, which is a week long celebration of what we do to increase peace in schools. The theme was “Peace With Technology” to promote positive use of social media and we implemented the Jostens’ Pause Before You Post™ program. Pause Before You Post is a program to encourage members of the school community to be wise when publishing personal information when using social media. Each day of the week, students watched short video clips then participated in discussions about one’s digital footprint, sexting, and digital citizenship. Students were then encouraged to pledge to Pause Before You Post. It was an awesome week for our school community! However, we have to continue our efforts to encourage “peace with technology.”
Throughout October, we will expand the Pause Before You Post campaign by conducting the following activities:
*Week 1-Make a general announcement to the student body about the Pause Before You Post Campaign and encourage them to sign the pledge. Even though it wasn’t plan for this month specifically, we held a Facebook 101 class for parents to encourage them to actively get involved in monitoring their child’s behavior on Facebook. We also wanted to increase their knowledge of privacy settings so they are more informed.
*Week 2– Continue to make announcements about the importance of one’s digital footprint and encourage students to sign the pledge.
*Week 3– Highlight all the clubs and activities we have at school to show that we want to create a school where all students feel they belong. The best way to prevent bullying is to create a positive school climate and culture.
*Week 4-We’ll be featuring information on how one’s online profile can impact college acceptance and employment. We’ll also share quotes from top companies and universities along with five tips for improving one’s digital reputation.
Each of us can do our part by simply taking a deep breath to pause before we hit the send button. I constantly share this message with my students, staff, and parents. Please join me and others from across the country and sign the pledge to Pause Before You Post. Each individual effort can make a difference!