With the increased use of social media among teens, what used to be confined to schoolyard taunts has expanded to the Internet. “There is a dark side to social media — if you post something that you think is funny, but it’s very hurtful to someone else, then that can have a lasting effect that it’s never had before,” says Jeff Ervine, the president of Bridg-It, which aims to help schools find solutions to bullying. The company’s new online initiative, Bridg-It School, raises awareness of cyberbullying and provides resources to students and families. We asked Ervine to share his ideas for reducing and resolving bullying in schools.
Report incidents efficiently: Even with the recent technological advances, Ervine, when researching schools, found that most school districts were still using paper to report bullying incidents. This explains, he says, why only about 10 percent of bullying incidents are actually reported. “We designed Bridg-It to use technology for what it was meant for, which is speed and efficiency,” Ervine says. “By using technology to gather all the data and manage all the paperwork, we can cut down on the time [to address incidents] upwards of 95 percent.”
Educate everyone: Ervine says that one of the reasons he started Bridg-It was because there wasn’t enough awareness of cyberbullying. He says cyberbullying often occurs outside of typical school hours. Because of this, in addition to not having the resources to fight it, many students don’t know when and if they should report something that happens outside of school. “Everyone in the community has to have the ability to identify when someone’s being bullied or defamed online,” he says, “and Bridg-It allows for the parents, teachers, administrators and the students to identify anyone who’s been bullied or harassed.”
Resolve issues appropriately: Ervine believes the best way to resolve the problem after it is reported is by using what he calls “a restorative approach.” Bridg-It School offers methods and steps to do that through an online resource center. “The idea was to create a smart resource center that gave everyone what he or she needed to be educated in a consistent manner,” he says. The resource center houses news articles, laws pertaining to bullying, tips for dealing with bullying and much more.