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New book connects teens' use of technology outside of school to school environment

April 16, 2012

Editor's note: To discuss the new book, "School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time," or Dr. Justin Patchin's extensive research on teens and their use of technology, contact Dr. Patchin at 715-836-4058 or patchinj@uwec.edu.

 Justin Patchin
Dr. Justin Patchin
EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member who is a renowned expert on cyberbullying and his research partner will release a new book this month that connects teens' use of technology outside of school to the school environment.

"Bullying is not new, but its venues have expanded to include social media and mobile phones," said Dr. Justin Patchin, an associate professor of criminal justice who has been studying issues relating to cyberbullying for 10 years. "When students receive hurtful, threatening or sexually explicit messages, it negatively affects their ability to focus on schoolwork so schools do need to address these issues.Also, students who report a positive climate at their school, with educators who care about them and their academic success, are less likely to participate in cyberbullying and sexting."

Patchin's newest book, "School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time," provides educators with a guide for developing a positive school climate that counteracts cyberbullying and sexting.

"We show how cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying and offer specific strategies for improving school climate," Patchin said of the book, which he co-authored with his longtime research partner Dr. Sameer Hinduja, anassociate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University.

Strategies outlined in the book include things like building a sense of community, peer mentoring, social norming, youth grassroots campaigns, data-driven action plans, and policy and programming approaches.

The book includes anecdotes, stories and high-profile examples that illustrate Patchin and Hinduja's findings from more than 10 years of research. The book's companion website, www.schoolclimate20.com, features a Twitter feed and Facebook fan page as well as prevention tips, downloadable activities and worksheets, questions to facilitate staff and student discussions, and emerging best practices in school climate research and evaluation.

"These all are powerful tools that educators and others can use to help bully-proof their school," Patchin said.

In the past 10 years Patchin and Hinduja have completed seven studies involving more than 12,000 students from more than 80 middle and high schools from different areas of the United States.They were among the first researchers in the country to study how teens use technology and how cyberbullying affects teens.

Their new book focuses on findings from theirmost recent study, a 2010 random sample of more than 4,400 middle and high school students, ages 11-18. The information gathered represents some of the most recent and comprehensive data on topics relating to how teens use technology, Patchin said.

In addition to data collected from formal studies, Patchin and Hinduja — both of whom regularly give presentations throughout the United States and beyond — have spoken to thousands of teens, parents, educators, law enforcement officers and other adults who work directly with youth. Patchin was part of a White House anti-bullying conference and served as a visiting scholar with the FBI. As co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Patchin and Hinduja also respond routinely to phone calls, emails and other contacts from people worldwide looking for help with specific issues relating to high-tech bullying.

In their formal and informal information gathering, Patchin said they have found that while high-profile cases involving teens misusing technology often create panic among parents, educators, lawmakers and others, their research shows that most teens do use technology in a safe and responsible manner most of the time.

"Technology has revolutionized the way teens communicate and some teens do make mistakes or use technology in ways that create problems for themselves or for others," Patchin said, noting that cyberbullying and sexting are two examples of that misuse. "While these behaviors are not the norm, they should not be ignored. Our book focuses on how important school climate is to preventing teens from misusing technology."

For more information about "School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time," or Patchin and Hinduja's research, contact Dr. Justin Patchin at 715-836-4058 or patchinj@uwec.edu.

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