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September 03, 2013  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

9 tips for thwarting cyberbaiting

Cyberbaiting — when students taunt a teacher or bus driver to record their reaction — can lead to embarrassing online exposure. Here’s an overview of the problem and tips to help your drivers prevent it.

by Debbie Rike


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iStock image © fotostorm

iStock image © fotostorm

What would you do if you started getting calls from parents because one of your school bus drivers was starring in a YouTube video?

If the video was getting thousands of hits, then likely the behavior on display is less than professional. The debacle may be the result of an activity known as cyberbaiting.

Every once in a while, we receive a sign in our daily life to make us aware of potential hazards. Two years ago, such a sign occurred in my school district. I received a call from a high school assistant principal about a video that a student showed him on his smartphone. He attached the video to an e-mail and sent it to me.

The video showed one of my drivers standing at the front of the bus giving a little dance and lecture to students. Fortunately, the student had not posted the video and just thought it was funny. We erased the video, but it got me thinking and searching the Internet.

You might be surprised what you find just by searching for “angry bus driver” or “crazy bus driver.” But it doesn’t stop there. What would you do in these situations?

• Students take video of a school bus driver texting and post the video on the Internet.

• A student takes photos of other students engaging in inappropriate touching on the bus and posts them on Facebook.

• Students kick the back of the driver’s seat. When asked to stop, they continue and continue and continue. The driver loses his or her professionalism and yells inappropriate language. A different student is taking video and posts it (they had it all planned out in advance).

Embarrassing exposure
Cyberbaiting — what is it? It is a form of cyberbullying that occurs when students taunt someone — such as their school bus driver or a teacher — and capture his or her reactions on a cell phone to upload to the Internet.

Cyberbaiting may occur in any situation with an adult in authority, with students attempting to aggravate the adult into reacting in an inappropriate manner, such as a verbal outburst. Other students may not be directly involved, but they certainly might encourage it.

What do the students want to accomplish? Why are they doing this? The goal might be to get the teacher or driver fired. But more generally, they do it because they can — they now have very powerful technological tools to record verbal conversations, take photos and capture videos. They can post the footage online before they even get off of the bus.

Some students just enjoy making adults feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. What used to be isolated to the bus can now be published for the entire world to see. One such video that I reviewed recently had gotten nearly 125,000 hits.

Some students may use the video to justify their own behavior. For example, a student might try to show that the driver is picking on him or her while other students are doing the same thing with no consequences.
Many times cyberbaiting happens to newer, less-experienced employees, but it is not limited to them.

So how widespread is this phenomenon? According to a 2011 Norton Online Family Report, one in five teachers across the globe had personally experienced cyberbaiting or knew someone who had.

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I have a dedicated run. When my middle/high school students start "sharing" their electronic devices across the aisle or with each other, I remind them that there is no sharing of electronic devices policy. Parents may have preferences on what their child is/is not exposed to- and students need to understand and respect these wishes. They usually keep their devices to themselves or they are asked to put them away. Last resort, letting them know you'll hold onto their device till they get off the bus. On my elementary run, the kids will let me know right away if something isn't right. If students know what the rules are, they usually respect them. The key is to be consistent, firm and fair.

Kristine    |    Nov 29, 2013 03:46 AM

How do you propose drivers enforce the cell phone policy, if the schools themselves do little to enforce the policy? It's difficult enough to navigate through neighborhoods, count children as they load or unload, enforce any seat belt policy, manage the school bus environment, and now we're expected to pay attention to who is using a cellphone? In an ideal world, each driver has built a relationship with their students. They know each others names, neighborhoods, and bus stop locations. Drivers in my district can see up to 180 students per day, thanks to non-mirrored routes. Our administration addressed this a few years ago during in-service training, but gave no tools to the drivers to enforce the rules. A solution I thought of is having an additional adult on each bus, however that is costly. Does anyone have any tried and successful solutions?

Meredith Bray    |    Sep 04, 2013 05:00 PM

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