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Social media and bullying get face time at education summit

Jessica Cuffman • Mar 17, 2013 at 9:45 AM

At the six workshops, organized by the NAACP Education Committee and the Sandusky Area Education Coalition, participants delved deeply into the issues children face every day.

Chief among them: Bullying, a buzzword and real problem only enhanced today by advances in technology, namely social media websites where interaction between children may go unchecked and unmonitored.

Betty Maceo, a counselor at Sandusky schools and adjunct professor at Heidelberg University, led the discussion at the workshop addressing bullying and school climate.

The challenge in addressing it starts with its mere definition, she said.

Not all bad behavior between students constitutes bullying. It's when that behavior is repeated that it's linked to a deeper issue that has to be ferreted out and addressed.

And one of the greater problems is relational aggression, when children — or adults — use friendships and relationships to hurt others, a problem she most typically sees with female students.

"It's quieter, more insidious and harder to detect," she said.

But with social media an instant platform for gossip to hundreds of readers and competitiveness between school-age girls, the problem accelerates quickly when one friend turns on another and divulges secrets.

"Girls don't even know anymore how to be friends," she said.

To curb all types of bullying within schools, teachers must take immediate action when they see it happening, Maceo said.

While 71 percent of teachers believe they intervene when they see bullying happening, only 25 percent of students agree that they do.

"We have policies and procedures. We just have to implement them," she said.

In the end, it's about teaching students how to feel good about themselves — and how to respect themselves.

This was the third year for the education summit, a event open annually to the public

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