Schools ill equipped for cyberbullies

Jan. 14, 2011 at 11:03 PM

ZANESVILLE, Ohio, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher cautions only one in five school social workers surveyed felt their school has an effective policy on cyberbullying.

Lead author Karen Slovak of Ohio University in Zanesville and Jonathan Singer of Temple University in Philadelphia report a survey indicates slightly more than half of school social workers felt equipped to deal with cyberbullying. Half said students weren't reporting incidents of cyberbullying to school officials -- making it difficult for them to monitor and manage the problem.

"Social workers were definitely aware that cyberbullying happens, but reported that they may not be as prepared as they would like to deal with it," Slovak says in a statement. "The legal issues trip them up, as much of this activity occurs outside of school."

It's important to empower school social workers to handle cyberbullying, she suggests, because these professionals are often in the best position to counsel parents and teens.

Members of the 11-state Midwest School Social Work Council -- a total of 399 social workers in the rural, urban and suburban elementary, middle and high schools -- were surveyed.

The findings are published in Children & Schools.

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