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UW-Eau Claire Professor Co-authors Book
to Help Parents, Educators Combat Cyberbullying

RELEASED: Aug. 8, 2008

book cover
Dr. Justin Patchin
Dr. Justin Patchin

EAU CLAIRE — Today's parents and educators are concerned with combating a new form of bullying: cyberbullying.

A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member is a co-author of a new book with strategies for responding to cyberbullying. The book is due out this month, just in time for the start of school.

"Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying," by Dr. Justin W. Patchin, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of criminal justice, and Dr. Sameer Hinduja, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University, provides comprehensive strategies to help educators and parents identify, prevent and respond to instances of cyberbullying in their schools and families.

Cyberbullying occurs when an individual deliberately uses technology — computers or cell phones, for example — to harass or threaten another person repeatedly over time, Patchin said. Examples include posting embarrassing photos or insulting messages on social networking Web sites or sending harassing text messages to a victim via cell phone.

Tina Meier knows this problem all too well. Her daughter Megan committed suicide in 2006 after experiencing cyberbullying.

"Cyberbullying is a significant concern for tweens and teens in the 21st century," Meier said. "This timely and informative book brings adults up to speed on how kids are using technology to harm their peers."

Parents, teachers and counselors are often not sure of the best way to respond to incidents of cyberbullying, said Patchin, who has spent more than five years researching the problem.

"By themselves — parents, teachers, counselors, police — may struggle with finding an effective response," said Patchin. "This book offers strategies that bring the groups together for a coordinated community response, which is a much more effective way to deal with cyberbullying."

The book is based on Patchin and Hinduja's original research with thousands of adolescents. Featured in the book are:

  • personal stories and case scenarios
  • a review of current research and legal rulings
  • tips for identifying cyberbullies or targets
  • anti-cyberbullying strategies
  • guidelines for school districts, parents, and law enforcement personnel.

While bullying is not new, cyberbullying is different from the normal schoolyard aggression, Patchin said.

"The nature of bullying has changed," he said. "With this form of bullying the aggression can occur almost anywhere and at any time. It makes the victim afraid to use technology to go online or to answer a cell phone."

"Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard" advocates for creative responses to cyberbullying, Patchin said. For instance, a cyberbully might be required to write a paper on the effects of harassment and not be allowed to use technology to write or research the issue.

"It gives the bully a taste of what the victim goes through when they feel they can't go online without being harassed," he said.

Patchin noted that adolescents are very reluctant to tell adults about cyberbullying.

"Our research shows that the children often are afraid that the adult response will be to simply tell their kids to ignore the bullying, but the victims know that doesn't always work," he said. "It's important for adults to be able to offer real help to cyberbullying victims. This book provides the advice adults need to make a difference for these youth."

-30-

KH

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