MONROE (WKOW) -- Parents from the Monroe, Albany, Black Hawk, Broadhead and Juda school districts gathered Monday night to learn about cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to willfully intimidate,harass, manipulate, discredit or embarrass others, according to Dr. Justin Patchin, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Patchin is also an associate professor of criminal justice at the UW-Eau Claire.
Patchin said cyberbullying can be incredibly stressful on kids because it can go on long after the school day ends. A bully can target a victim using social media or text messages while he or she is sitting at home in a bedroom, Patchin said.
Monday's presentation was funded by Jacob's SWAG Foundation and Tyler's TEAM Foundation. Both organizations were formed in honor of students who took their own lives.
John Pierce and his family formed Tyler's TEAM Foundation after his son Tyler, 20, committed suicide three years ago. He said the group's mission is to put an end to suicides. Thus preventing cyberbullying, which can in some cases lead children to take their own lives, is something Pierce said he has a strong interest in.
"We want to eventually stop suicide, and we have to do it one step at a time," he said.
Patchin recommended parents speak to their children about what social media technology, or apps, they may be using on their phones or computers. He said cyberbullying will likely never be eliminated completely. But Patchin said teachers, students, law enforcement and other community leaders should seek to foster dialogue about the issue, rather than ignoring it, in an effort to minimizes instances of cyberbullying.
"What I'm hopeful for is greater community awareness," Patchin said. "So when the minor levels of bullying occur, it doesn't rise to the level where it becomes so serious it's significantly disrupting the lives of these teens."
Patchin also gave presentations to students Monday morning and afternoon. He will also be giving presentations to students on Tuesday. While in the Monroe area, Patchin will be visiting the Monroe, Albany, Black Hawk, Broadhead and Juda school districts.
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