Citizenship is a cornerstone of participation in modern democracies. It is awarded on the basis of meeting specific civic responsibilities. It affords citizens the rights to safe passage and protection from unlawful harm. These include the right to freedom from on-line harassment, cyber libel and discrimination, all of which are aspects of cyber bullying. Citizenship also grants the rights to free expression without undue interference from authorities. With the proliferation of rapidly evolving communications technologies, the boundaries between free expression, privacy, protection and safety are increasingly blurred. In the educational context, this can create a policy vacuum regarding the extent to which schools can intervene when students target peers or teachers for ridicule and abuse on line.
Until the advent of social networking sites, some schools took minimal interest in addressing peer to peer cyber bullying. However, the prevalence of antiauthority postings by students who defame and demean teachers and other school authorities on social networking sites means that teachers have begun to pressure teacher unions. There are calls for the banning of social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. Schools react by expelling and suspending students for offensive expression.
School zero tolerance suspension policies are increasingly challenged by students (supported by some parents) that such policies infringe their online rights to free expression. Educators and government policy makers on the other hand (supported in some cases by court decisions), argue that a nexus to the school provides an obligation on their part to address cyber bullying, whether it occurs on or off campus.
In turn, the news media internationally frames the issues as a battle between kids and schools a battle in which the kids and technologies are depicted as having too much power that must be curbed to prevent a loss of control in society. Media driven fear diverts the focus from schools, parents and technology corporations, all of whom have a responsibility to prevent and educate students towards civil responsibility and socially inclusive online discourse.
Our international research project in Canada, United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, and Japan reveals interesting findings on the profile, prevalence and extent of cyber bullying in those countries. Researchers and academics from our project will present this international data, together with a set of international legal standards and policies (the International Policy Guidelines on Cyberbullying (IPGCB), to guide educators about their educational, ethical and legal responsibilities to address cyber-bullying, through educational initiatives grounded in critical educational pedagogies and substantive law (human rights and legal pluralism), that develop inclusive and democratic citizenship among youth globally.
To that end, we join with NetSafes conference aims to consider a range of topics relating to citizens of cyberspace as they relate to cyber bullying in a virtual school environment. We welcome discussion about empirical and theoretical work and pragmatic solutions addressing the issues of promoting safe cybercitizenship, free of cyber bullying.
We seek papers, presentations, and workshops on a broad range of topics related to the risks, rights to safety, and responsibilities of citizens in the information age. Conference papers on cyber bullying will be included in a publication with those of researchers in the cyber bullying project.
This conference will consider the relationship of safe cybercitizenship to:
Contexts of ICT use
Activity in Cyberspace
Risk in Cyberspace
Resiliency (risk management) in Cyberspace.
Within or across these areas, topics may include:
Risks and risk management in Cyberspace
Rights for safety in Cyberspace
Responsibilities in Cyberspace
Young people in Cyberspace
Contexts of ICT-use
Role and impact of news media
Responsibilities of ISP providers
Parental role to reduce cyber bullying
International policy and legal frameworks on cyber bullying
Harrassment and victimisation
Cyber-sexual offending and grooming
Protection from harm
Computer filtering systems
To submit a proposal, select the appropriate link: Presentation
, or Symposium