staff Roni Benson, Ginger Lieberman
and Evy Rothman, the issue of cyberbullying is about much more than the occasional nasty text message- it's about a paradigm shift in culture with frightening implications for not just children, but everyone.
Started by Roni Bensen and Plainview-Old Bethpage school board member Ginger Lieberman, LIPEN has been around for 15 years offering staff development, sensitivity training and parent workshops to school districts.
"We used to do a lot more, but all of a sudden, everyone wanted to just talk about bullying, so we really and truly focused in on bullying and cyberbullying," said Lieberman, co-director of LIPEN and co-author of the Bully frog books.
The program has since been given to 250,000 children, and is often featured on television and radio programs, such as Eye on New York.
According to Lieberman
and Rothman, many of the ideas that eventually became the Bully Frog program grew out of discussions that started on the Plainview-Old
Bethpage school board.
"Some parents, especially dads, will say 'it's a rite of passage.' No, it's not a 'rite of passage," said Lieberman
"We have been asked- and it's a sad commentary- we have been called in to speak to younger and younger grades about cyberbullying- and I'm talking young kids," said Lieberman
"The level of meanness has really gotten out of control with some of these kids."
As with traditional bullying, Lieberman
and Rothman said that often parents are part of the problem; both for letting kids have computers in their rooms without proper supervision, and taking advantage of the online culture of virtual anonymity themselves to say things online that they do not wish to take responsibility for, once again setting a poor example.
It's this cultural shift towards anonymous meanness becoming more acceptable, enabled by the Internet that is particularly disturbing to LIPEN