After School’s Vice President Jeff Collins presented with #ICANHELP’s Matt Soeth at the 15th annual International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA) Conference.
The duo hosted an interactive “poster session” titled How to Effectively Manage Cyberbullying Incidents with Collaboration, leading participants through several real-life social media crisis scenarios. The scenarios explored cyberbullying, threats of gun violence, and self digital harm. During the session, Jeff and Matt also took questions and shared their exercises with teachers and others to bring into their networks.
“The event was great for networking with other companies, organizations and industry experts,” said Jeff Collins. “At After School, we believe that collaboration is key to solving major problems, including bullying and cyberbullying,” Jeff continued.
Speakers included Monica Lewinsky and diversity expert Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. Lewinsky shared an inspiring message for attendees, touching on several topics related to bullying and the responsible use of social media. In total, over 1,000 participants explored 40 workshops, an exhibit hall, poster sessions, and research panels.
Our takeaways from this year’s IBPA National Conference included:
Sexting is Here to Stay
Research from top organizations around the world is revealing the rise and prominence of sexting among teens. In a soon-to-be-released report, which was discussed during the event, an anti-bullying organization discusses the top reasons why teens sext and offers recommendations on how to help teens limit the negative impact of texting.
In our own experience here at After School, it’s clear that flirting has moved online. Even though After School users aren’t able to send photos to individuals, we know from their postings that sexting is common on other networks and here to stay.
Sextortion is a Growing & Very Real Problem
Sextortion is when one person or group privately extorts something of benefit or value from someone else. For example, one teen may receive an explicit image of someone they’re dating. After they breakup, that teen may then use that picture to extort additional pictures, force the other to get back into a relationship, or convince them to perform sexual acts. If the victim doesn’t comply, they fear that their picture will be shared with their friends, family, and possibly their entire school.
Sextortion was a widely discussed topic at the event with several keynote speakers mentioning the increasing frequency of problem it’s causing in schools and for the teens who are victims. After School partners with Thorn to help spread their anti-sextortion efforts to teens.
The Importance of Resilience
Studies mentioned at the event pointed to a decline in the mental health of youth and a rise in suicides. Resilience was mentioned often as a way to combat these results of bullying. It requires youth to know that they have a purpose. Teaching resilience can help teens understand why someone is bullying them, and allow them to rise above the attacks without causing damage their mental health.
Youth Must Be Part of the Bullying Solution
Adults can’t solve all problems for youth. Youth must be a part of the solution. A constant theme was the importance of bringing youth, their ideas, and experiences into the discussing to create solutions that will work to combat bullying. Students have the power to change their school environment and put a stop to bullying — they just need to feel empowered and be given the support needed from their school and administrators.
The 2018 IBPA Conference took place on November 5-7. To learn more, visit here.