Little girl holding palms up to defend herself, the words 'stop' and 'bullying' written on her palms.

New Anti-Bullying Partnership Offers New Resources for Lightspeed Clients

Bullying is a top concern for both parents and students. About a third of U.S. parents with school-aged children say they are extremely or very worried that their children might be bullied at some point, and another 39% are somewhat worried. At the same time, about half of U.S. teens see online harassment and bullying as a major problem, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey.

It’s no wonder that parents and students are concerned:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. middle and high school students have reported being bullied at school.
  • Nearly half of U.S. teens ages 13-17 have experienced at least one type of cyberbullying behavior.
  • Young people who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety and externalized negative behaviors, as well as self-harm and suicide.

While the percentage of students who have been bullied at school has stayed somewhat steady over the past couple of years, rates of cyberbullying have been increasing.

Three Differences Between Bullying and Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying differs from face-to-face bullying in a few distinct and meaningful ways:

  • It is pervasive. With the ubiquity of cell phones and 1:1 school device programs, cyberbullying can occur anywhere and anytime, making it hard for victims to find relief.
  • It is often anonymous and invisible. The digital world offers a powerful cloak of anonymity for bullies and makes it hard for staff, teachers, or parents to witness and address bullying.
  • It can be permanent. Removing content posted online can be difficult, and if not reported and appropriately addressed, cyberbullying can leave a permanent digital footprint, potentially impacting college admissions, future employment, and other areas of life.

Schools must step up anti-bullying efforts

Schools have a role in preventing and addressing bullying—not only because it often occurs on school campuses or within school hours, but also because of its impact on learning.

  • Frequently bullied students score lower in reading, mathematics, and science than those that were never or rarely bullied.
  • Approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying.
  • Victims of bullying are at a greater risk of dropping out of school.

Fortunately, edtech solutions can help educators get the visibility they need so they can intervene sooner, correct the behavior, and even prevent bullying and cyberbullying before it starts.

Technology, like Lightspeed Alert and Lightspeed Filter, can work together to help K12 IT teams help schools address bullying by:

  • Detecting signs of cyberbullying alert safety staff to instances of students using inappropriate language and terms related to cyberbullying.
  • Filtering BYOD as easily as school-issued devices to protect students of all ages from harmful online content known to facilitate bullying and harassment.
  • Preventing harmful behavior before it starts by allowing safe social media use with “read-only mode” and customizable social media controls on sites to keep valuable content accessible to students, without the risks.
  • Ensuring YouTube is a safe, distraction-free learning resource by blocking potentially harmful videos, comments, and sidebars.

Districts are using student safety monitoring tools, like Lightspeed Alert, to detect signs of bullying in real time, helping schools intervene before a situation escalates to self-harm or violence. Since August 2023, Lightspeed Alert has categorized over 323,799 bullying alerts across our customers.

By identifying warning signs that would otherwise go undetected, these solutions are helping schools to identify and address bullying and cyberbullying when it happens.

New partnership extends anti-bullying resources to Lightspeed clients

In addition to providing schools with technology to identify and prevent bullying, we are excited to partner with the UGLI Foundation, an organization committed to ending bullying behavior. Starting in Texas, Lightspeed Alert customers will have access to the UGLI Foundation’s anti-bullying resources, including the foundation’s keystone UGLI Clubs, supported by a $2000 grant and a suite of resources that meet standards for bullying prevention.

“We encourage everyone to support others who have been hurt or harmed, take actions to step in to stop instances of bullying, treat all with kindness, fully accept people’s differences, and include those who are left out,” states Angela Garcia, founder of the UGLI Foundation.

Bullying affects everyone in a school and community—not just the victims and perpetrators. It is our hope that we can continue to partner with organizations like The UGLI Foundation to help districts and communities create more inclusive communities and safe spaces for our children.

Learn more about Lightspeed’s partnership with the UGLI Foundation which will provide immediate grant funding to Texas schools