Kimberly from the DaretoCare organization joins the podcast to provide tips to educators and parents of how to successfully tackle bullying in schools(in-person or virtual) along with key information and insights into what bullying may look like.
DaretoCare's mantra is "No one (child or adult) should go to school and feel alone, unwelcome or afraid."
Prevnet.ca (out of UBC)
Contact Kimberly to inquire about DaretoCare's learning virtual program.
Dare to Care was founded in 1999 because of a need to address the pervasive and crippling issue of bullying that continues to affect children, youth, and adults to this day. Due to the lack of existing bully prevention resources available at that time, Dare to Care was the first comprehensive program launched in Canada to tackle the issue. Dare to Care was created with the understanding that bullying is a societal issue and that if we are to have any impact, all stakeholders within a school, community or workplace must be involved in creating a climate of change.
[00:00:01] Hello and welcome to Inside The Sweeps podcast. We have a very special guest today we have Kimberly from Dare to Care. Kimberly, why don't you introduce yourself and introduce Dare to Care?
[00:00:13] Great, thanks for having me Umair. Dare to Care is, we're a bully prevention program. We are Canadian based, and we are a charitable organization. It was started in 1999 by my colleague Lisa Dixon Wells as a tool primarily for educators to help address the problem of bullying in school communities. And we have program offerings for kindergarten to grade nine, in schools include, we have program offerings for all the stakeholders. We have offerings for the students, of course, for educators, and staff and parents as well. In 2017, we expanded into youth sport, and we work closely with several national sporting organizations as well as local and provincial organizations. And of course, with the onset of COVID-19, about 18 months ago, we have lifted and shifted our in-person program delivery to virtual and online formats. And there's more about that on our website, which is daretocare.ca. A little bit about myself, I'm a teacher, and I have been with dare to care for about 15 years, I'm also a parent of three.
[00:01:24] Awesome, thank you for the introduction, great to have you. And as a resource for many of our listeners, in school districts in Canada, and even the US and UK, bullying is a very, very touchy topic, especially with cyber being involved, and their shift towards technology and a lot of the key values of kindness and empathy, how that translates to cyber is very important as well. So, bullying has changed quite significantly over the past year, as I mentioned before, it used to take form of shoving someone on the playground, but now with our continuous advancing technology, it allows bullying to be done to anyone at any time. Being so heavily dependent on technology and digital devices, especially during the pandemic, what should children be aware of when communicating online with one another?
[00:02:15] Well, as you already stated, it's true. Bullying has shifted, and it is no longer kind of confined to school hours or times when students are face to face. They now potentially don't get a break from it because it is on their device, and if they have access to that device, then that means it's non-stop. And I think the biggest piece that I would say, is critical for students and adults, of course, to understand that every single thing we send electronically becomes public and it becomes permanent. Public, even though we may have excellent privacy settings, we have to be prepared that it may go beyond the people we intend to see, to see our messaging. And that's really hard to understand.
[00:03:00] Yes, that's a very good point. You know what at Netsweeper, we advocate that for a lot of our school districts, we work with privacy settings, everything has become public. So being careful about what goes online is very important. In this digital age, technology has become a significant part of our daily lives, even more during the pandemic. What effect Have you seen technology have on bullying? And then what can parents and teachers do to protect children and practice online safety?
[00:03:32] That's a really great question. So, I think the biggest thing that has changed since the pandemic has started is that all of us, our children included, of course, are spending far, far more time in front of a screen than we were pre pandemic, largely because our school, our work, all of our social connections are even more online than they ever were before. And so I think as adults, as parents in particular, and teachers, we have to be aware of what our kids are doing and to have conversations with them about what's acceptable, what's not that sort of thing. Previously, as parents and as teachers, we could kind of shield our kids and only give them bits of information that we felt they were ready to handle, or they were developmentally prepared for. And now, of course they have access to far more information than we did as kids, mostly because they can just Google it. Right? So that's up to every family or classroom setting to kind of decide what expectations work best for them and to sort of discuss those boundaries so that they're clearly kind of clearly laid out, I guess.
[00:04:41] Yeah, that's great for parents managing screen time during pandemic can be challenging. For every, for even every classroom, like you mentioned has different policies. With remote learning now and using social media apps to communicate with friends, it makes it difficult to know how much is too much. There are many great solutions like Netsweeper, to help parents and educate minor digital use. However, what are some reasonable expectations parents can give to their children in terms of how to use technology can also go to for educators.
[00:05:14] For certain, for certain. So, I think again, as I said earlier, I think it's really important that whether it's a family setting or a school-based setting, that those kind of adults in charge set clear expectations for their young people, like I said, whether it's students or their own children. I personally just based on what I know in my experience, and what I know about kid’s brain development, I believe that there is value in setting firm limitations, especially on our younger children. For example, studies have shown with brain development and sleep and all this kind of stuff that children under 12 should be charging their devices outside of their room at night. In other words, not have access to it, when those kind of sleep hours are supposed to be I mean, we, we all have heard the research about, you know, two hours before sleep, you take away the blue light, and all that kind of stuff. But I just think as adults, we have difficulty regulating our technology to sometimes and we have fully developed brains, right? So, to expect our children to be able to self-regulate with their devices, is they simply don't have the brain capacity to do so because their executive function, the part of their brain that kind of makes rational decisions, isn't fully developed until they're 25. So, as adults, as parents, as teachers, we have to help them regulate, I believe.
[00:06:36] Yeah, that's a great point. You know, it's not about just putting solutions in place about teaching and educating of how to use those technologies. And more and more that will be coming on managing internet use is a complex topic, whether it be for a family or a classroom of students, do you have any tips for how parents and teachers can help students balance internet use, based off your experience working as a teacher as well?
[00:07:02] Yeah, and I would say, as you said earlier. I mean, using technology and software, like your Netsweeper technology is a great tool for adults to help monitor and to help regulate students or their children. Another tool that can be employed is something called a two-way contract. And it's basically, the idea is, the children or the students sign this contract stating that if they are aware that they or somebody else is being treated disrespectfully, hurtfully, unacceptably, they will come to their caring adult, whether it's a parent, a teacher, a coach, whatever that relationship is, and let them know. But the other side of the contract is for the adult. And the adult is basically saying, I will listen to you, I will not judge and I will not take your technology away. Because if our kids are worried that if they report something, they'll immediately lose their tech privileges, they're not going to be super motivated to make that statement, right? So, I think it's really important that they have a safe place to go to, to report knowing that their own tech use will not be at risk. It's not to say that it may be, it might not be curtailed a little bit, but that it won't be completely taken away from them.
[00:08:25] Yeah, just a follow up question based off that. The two-way contract, that sounds a good idea. And I'm sure it is, have you seen any positive feedback from that, from schools or even parents and students?
[00:08:39] For sure. So, most school boards start the year with the, you know, a series of forms that go home, one of which is usually around digital citizenship. And it basically states the same, it says that if you're in our school, in our classroom, in our school, and you're using our devices or using a device, these are the acceptable things, that sort of thing. I think from even at a classroom level, or certainly at a family level, that can really be tailor made to suit your family or your classroom in particular, to really hone in on and having that discussion on what's acceptable, what's not, you know what to do if you get into a position as a young person, and where you're not comfortable with what's being said, or what's being shared or that kind of thing. So just to have those conversations with our kids to make them aware that just because somebody sends them something, doesn't mean they're obligated to like it, or share it, or you know, pass it on or whatever, that they have other choices.
[00:09:38] Many children who are being cyberbullied don't want to tell their parents or teacher because they often feel ashamed or scared even, like you mentioned, you know, taking the privileges away. They're scared of that as well. The growth rate of internet users who have been exposed to bullying, abuse or harassment online has increased drastically since start of COVID-19 and continues to increase. What are some strategies children should keep in mind while using their digital devices? And even parents should be keep in mind? And what can parents and teachers enforce to prevent cyberbullying from happening?
[00:10:13] So again, I would agree with you. The rate of increase in hurtful language, hurtful images, hurtful behavior that's been going on online, not just through social media, but through their group chats, and certainly through their video game chats and that kind of thing, has grown exponentially since the start of the pandemic. And so, I think it's even more important, like you mentioned, that kids have kind of a sense of what to do, that kind of thing. So, I would say first off, what can parents do? They can check in a little more regularly, if they're, you know, child is in their bedroom, or with the door closed all the time, 23 or 24 hours a day kind of thing, just pop in every now and then. They're going to be super-fast at switching out of their screens, because that's what they do. But just to have the conversation and check in because it's an easy default for the student or the child to say, “Oh, I'm just doing homework”, “I'm just doing schoolwork”. And so, pay a little closer attention because they're pretty smart. At Dare to Care, we have a tool that we share with students, and of course educators and parents, something we call the three-door challenge. And the idea is first and foremost, to have them stop for just a moment and think before they hit like, share, send, repost, whatever it is, because most kids going through particular their social media are just scrolling through at, you know, a super rapid rate and just hitting like, like, like, like, like, like all the way through. So, to have them stop, really think about what it is. The idea, the premise of a three-door challenge is there's a question on three separate doors, and you have to answer yes to each question before you get to proceed through that door, you have to answer yes to all three before you get to hit send, post, forward, you know, share whatever it is. And so, the first question is, could I say this to the person's face? So, it sounds kind of old school. But the idea is, if you could say to their face, then you're probably okay to, to post it or to send it. But if you couldn't say to their face, then it's pretty straightforward. You're done. You shouldn't be sending or posting or sharing that message. So, the first question is, can I say it to the person's face? If the answer is yes, great. You go through door number one, if the answer is no, you're done. But let's say you say yes, you go through door number one. So, the question on door number two, for me is a really big one, and it is, how would I feel if somebody sent this to me? Or said this about me? So, it really gathers, it really gets into that empathy piece, and putting yourself in somebody else's shoes, somebody else's position. Would this make me feel happy? Would it be, you know, make my day that kind of thing. If so, great, go through door number two. But if your responses, you know, it would hurt my feelings, or it would make me upset or embarrassed, then again, you're done. You shouldn't be sending or sharing that message. But let's say again, you go through door number two. So, door number three is the public piece of public and permanent that we talked about at the very beginning. And that question is, imagine yourself in front of your whole entire school, I know we haven't done that for you know, a year and a half, we haven't had assemblies or anything like that. But just dial it back into your imagination, or a large family gathering, which again, most of us haven't done in a year and a half either. But you know, a family gathering where you're not only with your parents and your siblings, but your aunt's, your uncle's, your cousins, your grandparents. So, put yourself in that space, and could you stand up in front of that group? Whether it's your school, or your team, or your extended family, and read that message out loud, or hold that picture that image up for everybody to see? And again, if the answer is Yeah, I'd be cool with that. Like, I'd be good with that. Then great. Go ahead and hit send. But if the answer is no chance, or there's no way I could share that with my grandma or my teacher or whatever. Then again, our feeling at Dare to Care is that you probably shouldn't be sharing that message. Because again, you don't know how far that message is going to go. You may only intend it for a certain audience, but somebody could take a screenshot, somebody could, you know, there's a million ways that they could share that message without your permission. And once you hit send, you lose that control. So that idea is, again just to stop and think go through those. I tell students even if they can ask themselves, one or two of the questions, not even all three working baby steps, you know, get to that place, and really kind of just check to say is this like, is this cool? Am I or should I be doing this?
[00:14:43] That seems like a very good strategy. You know, not just from a bullying standpoint, cyberbullying standpoint, in general that all children should have towards social media and something educators and parents can start enforcing or educating the students themselves.
[00:15:00] Yeah, for sure, I agree.
[00:15:03] So my next question is, cyberbullying is a growing issue in Canada, as you mentioned, it can have immediate and long-term effects on children that are heavily impacting their mental health. Children who are victimized can often feel isolated, anxious, depressed, self-harming behavior, and even experienced suicidal thoughts, amongst other things. With such terrifying outcomes, what are the consequences of being a cyberbully? And are there any possible criminal charges that those negative actions could lead to?
[00:15:35] There certainly are. And I know your audience is broader than just Canada, but I'm not familiar with the laws and the regulations outside of Canada. So, I will speak to what I know around Canada. But I'm fairly certain that there are international laws that apply more now than there were even, you know, five or 10 years ago, and that every country, the UK, in particular and the US have very similar laws to what we have here in Canada. So, there are certainly laws that apply to anybody who is making threats, who is using inappropriate language, inappropriate images, that kind of thing, whether it's in a text message or an email, or certainly on social media. And so basically, what happens is this, if our children are under the age of 12, and they are sending or sharing inappropriate images, using inappropriate language, making threats, that kind of thing. Then ultimately, the person who is held responsible for that is the person whose name is the holder of the device. In most cases, that would be the child's parent, because a device has to be registered in somebody's name over 18. So, in most cases, that would be a parent or a guardian. And so that parent or guardian is then held responsible for the actions that their child is taking on their device. Which, as adults is a little bit concerning at times.
Now, if our kids are between the ages of 12 and 18, they fall in Canada under what's called the Youth Criminal Justice Act. And the Youth Criminal Justice Act is a series of laws that apply to our kids between those ages. And there are absolutely chargeable offenses around, again, comments around somebody's sexual identity, their gender identity, their, you know, their faith, certainly racism, all that kind of stuff, and uttering threats as well. And so, those charges are very serious. In some cases, they can be elevated to be charged under as an adult. And those charges are concerning, because some of them don't, aren't expunged after they're 18. Like most charges, under the Criminal Justice Act are, are expunged or sealed after a person turns 18. But some of these are not. And so, I think it's really important that students know that it can impact their ability to apply to a post-secondary institution, to the military, to the police, the fire department. It can impact their ability to travel, as far as getting a passport and having those kinds of privileges as well. And so, I think it's really, really important that our youth know, because my feeling is if they know, then they have the opportunity to make an informed decision. If they, you know, in my opinion, worst case scenario is a child makes a decision about something they're posting online, and they're met with these really severe consequences, and they're left standing there going well, I have no idea – if I had known that, I wouldn't have done that. Whereas I feel like as a teacher, as an educator, once they know that, then they have to make that choice, right, and they have to live with the consequences unfortunately.
[00:18:46] That's very informative. I wasn't aware of, of the laws and specifically for Canada. But I think this applies to the fact that the owner of the device, you know, it's their responsibility to monitor that. That carries on I know for sure, in UK and US. There are a lot of compliance solutions that are put in place to limit those liabilities. But in the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of the device owner, and usually it's educators and parents themselves.
[00:19:17] That's correct. Yeah, you bet.
[00:19:19] So moving on, COVID-19 is forcing teens to get creative with their social and dating lives, and many are looking for alternative ways to stay connected with friends and family while socially distancing. What are some helpful ties to keep in mind when chatting with friends on our digital devices, to ensure no lines are crossed that can lead to serious consequences?
[00:19:43] So again, I kind of default back to the three-door challenge because on those dating apps and on those, you know, on their social media, when they're, if they're, you know, making new connections with people, that kind of thing. I really think those are the three doors right? How would you feel if somebody was saying this or sending this about you? Could you say this to their face? And would you be okay if that went public or if you know other people saw, again, your words, your image, that kind of thing? So, I that is kind of my default go to. But I think, again, for students or for kids, it's really important to know that, even though they're sending something on, for example, a platform like Snapchat, where they think, “Oh, it's only up there for, you know, five seconds or 10 seconds, and then it disappears”, it doesn't disappear. It still becomes part of, you know, what we call it Dare to Care your digital footprint. And it's really important for them to know, I know, there's a huge trend, I don't know if a trend is the appropriate word, but the idea that kids are sending nude pics, and they're sending topless pics, and they're sending all kinds of stuff. And their feeling is because it's on Snapchat, it's only there for a very short time, but it's not. And the other piece that kind of goes back to the Youth Criminal Justice Act is nobody under 18 is allowed, by law, to send or receive sexually explicit pictures or photos, even if they're of themselves. Sending or receiving of any kind of sexual explicit photo is considered distribution or possession of child pornography. And that's really important, I think for kids to know because those are, again, really serious charges. And ones that we don't want to see kids get messed up in or get, you know, kind of get caught up in because, again, those the ramifications for those kinds of charges are long-term and they will carry on into their adult lives, which is what we don't want. We want children and students to have every opportunity available to them.
[00:21:38] A hundred percent. Some very serious consequences for that, of course, and like we mentioned, you know, nothing on the internet arrays digital footprint, that's also good point. From a technical point of view, everything stored, nothing is erased from the internet. It's all connected. Any closing remarks before we wrap up? Something for the audience to take away with them interesting statistic or if you want to re-emphasize something that we already mentioned?
[00:22:02] Well, I guess, Dare to Care, we are we are very lean, small organization. Like I said, Canadian base. But now thanks to our digital and online virtual programming, we are international for sure. And just before the onset of COVID, we actually reached our 1,000,000th participant, which is pretty exciting, pretty exciting for us. And I guess, Umair, the last kind of little thing I would just kind of like to leave with people is the idea that as adults, whether we're in the role of a parent, or a teacher, an educator, a coach, whatever that that role is that we play with our children in our lives, is we need to be the ones to have those conversations with our children, and to let them know what's acceptable, what's not, what kind of boundaries to set that sort of thing and to have open and honest discussions with them. Because if we're afraid to discuss those tough things with them, then they're going to go search out the answers somewhere else, which may not be as reliable as a caring adult in their life. So, I guess that would kind of be my last little bit.
[00:23:10] Is there any resources you can leave with the listeners who are educators, part of school boards, or even parents were listening?
[00:23:18] Well, you know what, we have a lot of resources listed on our website, actually, daretocare.ca. Another great resource in Canada, well, it's all over, but it's Canadian based. Again, it's Prevnet.ca. That's a really great resource and it's got lots of information. The Canadian Government has lots of drop down menus on their sites around tips and tools and that kind of thing. And I again, yours, you know, sometimes your service provider can have some strategies in place, as well to parents kind of manage their internet usage or their tech use at home as well.
[00:23:52] For sure, we will be linking that in the description for anyone listening. Kimberly, thank you for joining us, a very informative podcast here. Thank you for your time. Talk soon, appreciate it.
[00:24:03] Thank you. My pleasure.
[00:24:07] Thank you for tuning into this episode. I hope all of you enjoyed this conversation. If you have not listened to the previous episode, please check them out on Spotify or Google Podcast and hit subscribe to stay updated on all news related to Netsweeper make sure to give us a follow on any of our social platforms. We're active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Once again, thank you for listening, until next time.