Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Anna Maria Chávez: Confronting Cyber Violence in the Digital Age

Originally from the Girl Scout Blog
Anna Maria Chávez has a column in Huffington Post titled "Confronting Cyber Violence in the Digital Age".

"Cyber bullies can hide behind a mask of anonymity online, and do not need direct physical access to their victims to do unimaginable harm," states Chávez... "This makes it possible for cyber bullies to torment their victims on a nearly constant basis -- leaving no escape from the trauma, no refuge from the bullies, and no sense of safety."

According to DoSomething.org, nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online and 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once. 90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it.

"At Girl Scouts, we are committed to raising awareness about the terrible effects of cyber bullying, and to teaching girls how to recognize the signs of bullying of any sort and extricate themselves or another from a bad situation before it spirals out of control and ends in tragedy," says Chávez. "By arming girls with the skills, foresight and confidence they need to identify and confront bullying behavior, we create a world of engaged leaders who refuse to be victimized or to sit idly by while another suffers."

To that combat cyber bullying, Girl Scouts offers BFF (Be a Friend First), which works with the aMAZE! Journey and gives middle school girls valuable skills to develop healthy relationships, prevent bully behavior, and become peacemakers in their schools and communities.

"Our BFF (Be a Friend First) initiative teaches middle school girls relational and leadership skills to stop bullying behavior when it happens and prevent it from happening in the first place," according to Chávez. "BFF uses role playing, creative writing, games, quizzes and discussion exercises through which girls explore challenging issues online and off, like peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip, and cliques. As part of BFF, girls also identify their own community's needs on bullying to create and lead projects in their schools and communities to tackle region-specific issues."

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