Facebook has partnered with EDC in the movement to promote positive use of social media among youth. As schools across the country are being mandated to address cyberbullying, the social media giant recently awarded EDC a Digital Citizenship Research Grant to study cyberbullying prevention.
“Our goal is to examine the roles and responsibilities of schools, parents, and social networking sites in addressing cyberbullying, and how they can work together to prevent it,” says Shari Kessel Schneider, who will lead the study.
Over the next few months, Schneider and her team will review anti-bullying policies in selected Massachusetts schools and conduct interviews and focus groups with school leaders, students, and parents. She hopes this study will shed light on gaps between the bullying prevention efforts of schools and the online social networks where students connect with their peers, thus uncovering ideas for new strategies that promote positive interactions.
Cyberbullying is a growing concern within the public health sphere. In a recent study on the prevalence of cyberbullying in MetroWest Boston, published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Schneider found that one in six high school students reported being a victim of cyberbullying over a 12-month period. Victims of cyberbullying reported lower school performance than their non-bullied peers. They were also more likely to report depressive symptoms and suicide attempts.
Schneider sees this work as part of a larger puzzle: identifying ways to prevent cyberbullying before it starts. And she thinks Facebook has an important role to play.
“This systematic research will help all of us understand what schools and the online community should be doing and how they can collaborate. We are happy to see Facebook leading by example in investing in this vital research,” she says.
Originally published on May 17, 2012