Could Cyberbullying Be Causing a Rise in Absenteeism?
Seventy-one percent of teens use more than one social networking site.
Think about that statistic for a second. Roughly seven out of every ten teens are sifting through a combination of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and a multitude of other sites. Ninety-two percent of teens browse the internet daily, and 24 percent report they are “online constantly.”
Technology is now the common way of life, especially for teens. With the widespread use of this technology, it should not be surprising teens have adopted an age-old practice to fit into this digital age — bullying.
Cyberbullying as a practice is simple to understand. Teens pick on other teens through the use of technological platforms. And yes, it is a big deal. Almost 43 percent of kids have reported they have been cyberbullied. So, when kids are being harassed through social media or even in person, what is their defense? How can they prevent this? Many think there is only one answer. And that’s to simply not show up to school.
Absenteeism is not a new issue for the education community. One of the educator’s main jobs is to take attendance and make sure their students are showing up to class. If they don’t show up, then it is the educator’s responsibility to notify the administration of an absent child. New studies that look into absenteeism give stunning results that should be raising red flags.
In a study that encompassed over 500 school districts, it was found that 30 percent of students missed at least three weeks of school for the entire year. Three weeks equals out to 15 days of learning and development these kids miss out on. While this statistic is alarming, the question that naturally comes up is what is causing this high percentage of absences. While sickness and family issues are a natural part of the process, ABC News conducted a study on cyberbullying and found some intriguing results.
According to the ABC study, 160,000 students stay home from school every day because of bullying. That means 160,000 students are not getting a proper education because of the presence of bullying in all forms and shapes. It may blow you away, but it’s apparent that bullying is a serious problem in school and should not, under any circumstance, be ignored or thrown to the wayside.
Specifically, cyberbullying is a tough act to stop. While teachers can break up fights and keep students away from each other physically, the online arena is a whole different world. Harassment doesn’t just stop when the kids go home for the day. It follows them.
Facebook posts, insulting tweets and horrific Instagram pictures are all tools for cyberbullies. And then there are the texts, which put down the victim and pummel their mind until they believe what the bully is saying.
With cyberbulling being so prevalent, it’s hard to contain it and stop it. Technology is great in so many respects and is used quite often in the classroom. Chromebooks are employed in many schools on a regular basis for testing and enhancing the students’ learning experience. Built-in projectors that hang on the classroom ceiling allow teachers and students to explore any question they have about a topic as the internet is just a click and keystroke away. Technology isn’t going anywhere and is already becoming a normal method of teaching in the classroom.
The technology in the classroom also allows for a diversity of experiences to be seen, felt and heard. Students who learn better by doing can participate in experiential learning on their laptops while students who listen well can watch examples of their lessons play out on their computers. Technology allows all types of learning to occur, which is the goal of every teacher who cares about their students.
While correlation does not prove causation, technology does open up a new avenue for bullying. As with most things in life, there are good things and bad things associated with it. Taking away technology is not going to solve the problem of cyberbullying and absenteeism. Instead, educators and parents need to come up with a strategy to monitor their students’ and children’s activities online.