Many children are scared of monsters: monsters under the bed, monsters in the closet, monsters that creep into your room in the dark. Because of this fear, parents do a variety of things to make our children feel safe from these monsters that don't even exist. Look up "Monster Spray" on Pinterest, and you'll find a host of ideas for decorated spray bottles, essential oil calming sprays, and other do-it-yourself projects for protecting your children from these non-existent monsters. As little ones grow, the fear of Boogie Man begins to lessen, and kids come to realize that there are no such things as monsters. The reality sets in that a creature that looks like Mike Wazowski from Disney's Monster's Inc. just doesn't actually exist in our world.
While we have managed to teach the youth that monsters aren't real, what we have failed to do in this world is to properly prepare those children and young adults for the real life monsters that do creep and crawl everyday in the digital world. Cyberbullies are one of the monsters in the online world. While there are other kinds of scary and deadly monsters that lurk online, cyberbullies are often just kids themselves. Unlike most hackers and cyberpirates, cyberbullies do not always understand the consequences of their actions. These online bullies don't see the devilish monster looking back in the mirror.
As educators, parents, and adult citizens, it is our responsibility to educate students about what cyberbullying is and to begin to create a culture that doesn't promote this kind of behavior. The government is sadly behind on what supports and legal mandates that schools and society needs to better take care of our youth in regards to this issue. The government does have some legal measures in place to require schools to educate students; however, these measures only apply to schools that "receive E-rate and other technology funds" (Protecting Children in the 21st Century, 2012). Additionally, the measures put in place by this Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), that was enacted by Congress in 2000, are superficial (2011) because there is no specific set of specific requirements, nor is there a need to prove that all students have been educated about "appropriate online behavior" ( Protecting Children in the 21st Century, 2012). These actions while well-intentioned are not enough and are already outdated.
As a Texas educator, I would strongly advocate that our End of Course exams should be reevaluated and should push our students forward into the twenty-first century world that they are going to experience. For this reason, I suggest a set of required Digital Citizenship courses throughout Texas students' K-12 education and a culminating End of Course STAAR exam on these topics. While many opponents may argue that character education falls to students' parents, I contend that parents are working with outdated information themselves. How can we in good conscious ask parents to take the lead on something that they have never been educated in? My high school students' parents did not have social media or smartphone devices when they were in school, and therefore, parents are fundamentally unable to provide the quality of education on such a nuanced, complicated, and evolving topic like digital citizenship.
Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). (2011). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 24 March 2018, from https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act
Protecting Children in the 21st Century. (2012). District Administration Magazine. Retrieved 24 March 2018, from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/protecting-children-21st-century
Mrs. Autumn Riley
Native born Texan, Autumn Riley, is an educator-leader married to a dynamic high school teacher and mom to two wild little boys. When she isn't training for her next half-marathon, she spends time working on her sketch-noting and poetry.-writing. She is a Christ-follower and small group leader. All content is copyrighted to Autumn Riley. You may freely pin to Pinterest or link back to my blog. All other uses require permission. Thanks!