We are hosting a huge international stopcyberbullying youth summit in Canada, Nov 9, 2013 @youthsummitpei. (youthsummit.stopcyberbullying.org). In advance of the summit we sent out a parents/grandparents/caregivers survey. The respondents were asked if their child had been cyberbullied. While the responses are still coming in, we have seen some early results that are very interesting.
Those who indicated that they child had been cyberbullied (about 17% of respondents so far) thought that adopting more laws was the most important step we can take to stop cyberbullying.
Those who indicated that their children had not been cyberbullied (or that they weren't sure if their children were cyberbullied) said that giving students empathy training was the most important step we can take to stop cyberbullying.
The results may not be as surprising as first thought. Parents who are frustrated with the system or trying to handle a cyberbullying situation when their own children are involved look for help. They look for law enforcement and criminal justice help.
Parents not yet caught in the cyberbullying drama whirlwind see long-term solutions as the best ones. Empathy training takes time to change attitudes. For every student taught empathy, the world around them is constantly teaching them to be reactive, hold grudges, be judgmental and act out.
So, what's the answer? Why do we have to choose? We don't. The good thing about a multi-stakeholder and multi-dimensional problem is that there are many levels of solutions, from prevention to remediation.
We need empathy training. Parents need it as much as students, the students tell us. Parents need to be more empathetic when their children come to them to report cyberbullying and bullying.
We need laws too. Not necessarily more of them, but better ones that are consistent across jurisdictions. And we need to enforce the laws we already have, improve law enforcement training and cooperation between the industry and investigators.
And, we need much more.