Thursday, January 30, 2014

the StopCyberbullying Ecosystem

We've been doing this a long time. "this" is helping victims of cyberbullying, cyberharassment and cyberstalking, as well as victims of online sexual exploitation. We work helping young people, their families and adults. We work with schools, policymakers, police, judges, lawyers, elected officials, industry, mental health and healthcare professionals, researchers, kids, university students, community organizations, media and more.

And each has a special role to play when it comes to addressing cyberbullying. We call this the #Stopcyberbullying ecosystem. Unless we can address cyberbullying in a 360 degree holistic way, we won't address it at all. Anything else is playing whack-a-mole.

It's not easy to engage everyone. But until we do, we are wasting our time and allowing young people to be hurt in serious ways.

The first step to addressing the issues is determining who needs to be at the table. The second is trying to find ways to engage them using trusted influencers, the right communication methods and language and finding a common ground. That's why we use educators to engage educators, principals to engage principals, librarians to engage librarians, lawyer for lawyers, police for police, etc. The ones we choose to help us lead this forward are educators, librarians, police, etc that can see things more broadly, are not caught up in jargon and can park their egos at the door. They also have to be extremely experienced, knowledgeable and good at expressing their perspectives.

The biggest challenge is not engaging the students, or the parents or even those who are using digital technology as a weapon to hurt their peers. The biggest challenge is in breaking down silos, where our professionals work in isolated groups, doing what they have always done and never thinking outside of that silo's box.

We all suffer from this mindset. And the longer we have been recognized as "experts" the harder it is to see things with a fresh lens. But, by working with the kids directly, we are forced to think outside of our boxes, forced to see things that we hadn't before noticed, forced to explain our tried and true methods and forced to look harder and work in more enlightened ways.

A psycho-therapist who is part of our leadership group met with the students today to help them understand how to listen better and understand how to help victims of cyberbullying who come to them for help. He shared with me that these students were inspiring. They are refreshing, reviving and will change the world. But they need our expertise, experience and help to do it. Got a skill? Got heart? Got hope? Then we all need you too!