School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time


Sameer Hinduja & Justin W. Patchin

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    Amidst the hysteria surrounding cyberbullying and sexting, Hinduja and Patchin represent a sane, sensible voice that helps us all better understand these phenomena and what is really happening here. This book is filled with useful information and practical tips for those who seek to create positive school climates where bullying of all kinds is minimized. Every educator should buy it and read it.

    —Kevin Jennings, Former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education

    Working with schools around the country, I know firsthand how much pressure there is to find an “answer” to bullying in schools, whether because of recent laws mandating programs and training or the community demanding answers. It's hard to know what resource is best. It's especially confusing because a bullying-prevention industry has bloomed to take advantage of this need but so many of these programs lack content based on a realistic analysis. I'm not at all surprised that Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja have created the resource all schools should use in School Climate 2.0, either to meet the new legal requirements or truly do the hard and comprehensive work of creating a culture of dignity in a school. From understanding the true dynamics of cyberbullying, to outlining a commonsense strategic plan for educators that will work with their individual community, School Climate 2.0 to my mind is really the most important resource currently available. I will more than strongly advise every school I work with to use this book. Say it this way: if I could make School Climate 2.0 mandatory reading for every school administrator in the country, I would.

    —Rosalind Wiseman, Author, Queen Bees and Wannabes

    Blaming technology is easy. Addressing the socio-cultural dynamics that shape young people's lives is hard. Yet, to address hard problems like bullying and sexting, this is precisely what we need to do. In School Climate 2.0 Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin flesh out the relationship between technologically mediated issues and school climate before offering valuable strategies for educators and community members to address problems in their schools. Both grounded and practical, this is a must-read for all who are scratching their heads about how to prevent bullying and sexting.

    —danah boyd, PhD, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

    By cutting through all the media hype and speculation, Hinduja and Patchin present an accurate and helpful analysis of issues related to young people's use of technology. By pointing out that the vast majority of youth are using technology safely and responsibly, they're able to focus on the real issues, the real problems, and the kids who need our help. By basing their advice on rigorous research, they are able to come up with strategies that are effective and appropriate. I'm especially pleased that the authors focus on social norms and school climate by sharing insights into how the overall climate of a school affects the behavior of everyone in it.

    —Larry Magid, Technology Journalist and Internet Safety Advocate

    This is an immensely helpful and well-sourced book. It gives a thorough introduction to adolescents' use of new technologies and sexting and cyberbullying. It makes a strong case that school climate is a vital factor in regulating these abuses. There are excellent chapters on how practical intervention strategies can be implemented in schools. It will be a great resource for teachers, educators, and parents.

    —Peter K. Smith, Emeritus Professor, Unit for School and Family Studies Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

    A rarely seen compendium of school strategies that have worked, School Climate 2.0 moves past the headlines to offer a textured discussion of what we really need to strengthen school culture and improve teens' and schools' relationships to social media.

    —Rachel Simmons, Author, Odd Girl Out

    Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin remind us early on that, contrary to most media hype, most young people use their ubiquitous technologies safely and responsibly the majority of the time. Then, they discuss how a positive school climate is fundamental for all of learning and teaching. They share innovative, pragmatic strategies to enhance climate and thereby foster a better social environment—which will reduce behavioral problems offline and online among youth. This very readable, very user-friendly book should be considered mandatory for all preservice teacher education programs and be used as a guide for planning ongoing inservice training as schools prepare to better meet the needs of their 21st century students.

    —Mike Donlin, Cyberbullying and Digital Safety Consultant

    While Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin have a history of providing leadership in solid research and effective outreach on issues of youth risk in a digital age, in this book they have massively outdone their past excellence. Grounded in the understanding that the majority of young people make good choices online and effectively handle the negative situations that do occur, but that a minority of young people are at higher risk, Hinduja and Patchin craft recommendations for a positive school climate approach to help all young people learn to make good choices and assist their peers.

    —Nancy Willard, Director, Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

    Finally, a book that takes a holistic approach to the cyberbullying problem! There is no dividing line between school and home when it comes to the ways members of this generation relate to one another. A positive school climate can only help create a more positive home environment, and vice versa. This book gives readers specific guidance regarding how to prevent cyberbullying, sexting, and other problematic online behaviors.

    —John Halligan, Motivational Speaker, Ryan's Story Presentation LTD

    “This book will help administrators lead their schools to form and keep policies that reduce or eliminate cyberbullying.”

    —Brigitte Tennis, Headmistress, Stella Schola Middle School, Redmond, WA


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    Many schools are buying expensive antibullying curriculum packages, big glossy binders that look reassuring on the bookshelf and technically place schools closer to compliance with the new laws. But our research on child development makes it clear that there is only one way to truly combat bullying. As an essential part of the school curriculum, we have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on, and how to stand up for what is right.

    —Senior Lecturer Susan Engel and Professor Marlene Sandstrom, psychology, Williams College, Massachusetts

    For the last ten years, we have been exploring the online lives of adolescents: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Advances in technology have revolutionized the way teens communicate, learn, and interact. Our research has taught us that, despite what the media might have us believe, most of what teens are doing online is very positive. The vast majority of adolescents use technology safely and responsibly the vast majority of the time. However, some do make mistakes or use technology in ways that create significant problems for themselves or others. Cyberbullying and sexting are examples of two such problems that receive a significant amount of media attention. As you will learn in this book, these behaviors are not at epidemic levels, but at the same time they should not be ignored. So what can you do?

    This book seeks to explain and promote the importance of school climate in preventing teen technology misuse. Most of books and articles in print today simply describe the nature of cyberbullying or sexting (e.g., what it looks like, how much of it is occurring, and among whom). While this is an important first step, we seek to meaningfully build on the knowledge base and more explicitly connect the high-tech behaviors of teens to the school environment.

    Much of what you will read is based on information we have learned through our decade-long exploration of the ways teens are using and misusing technology. We have completed seven formal independent studies involving over 12,000 students from over 80 middle and high schools from different regions of the United States. To guide the discussion, this book specifically features information from our most recent study, a random sample of over 4,400 middle and high school students (11 to 18 years old) from one of the largest school districts in the United States. Surveys were administered to students in 2010, and the information gathered represents some of the most recent and comprehensive data on these topics. We will also refer to the work of many others who have labored to better understand how adolescents use, misuse, and abuse these technologies.

    In addition to the quantitative data collected, we have also informally spoken to thousands of teens, parents, educators, law enforcement officers, and countless other adults who work directly with youth. Our observations are essentially a reflection of their experiences. During these interactions, we have been fortunate to learn from those on the front lines about what they are dealing with, what is working, and what problems they are running into. The stories we hear are largely consistent with the data we and others have collected that will be presented throughout this text. We also receive numerous emails and phone calls on a weekly basis from educators, mental health professionals, parents, and other youth-serving adults looking for help with specific issues. These conversations help us to understand and consider the problem from a variety of angles and perspectives. All of the stories included in this book are real. In some cases the language has been modified slightly to fix spelling and grammar mistakes and improve readability, but the overall messages have not been changed.

    Important Features of the Book

    This book not only concisely boils down the latest available research on cyberbullying and sexting in a manner relevant and accessible to you, but—more importantly—strives to provide you with a road map for developing a positive climate at your school to reduce teen technology misuse. To reinforce the key concepts, there are a number of valuable in-text features, including the following:

    • Breakout boxes with important concepts explained in detail
    • Illustrations to help illuminate specific strategies
    • Views from educators who understand the power of a positive school climate
    • Discussion questions after each chapter
    • “Prevention Points” in each chapter that highlight significant points
    • Chapter summaries
    • Index

    In addition to these valuable resources, we also have put a number of extras on the companion website at These include the following:

    • Online quizzes for each chapter
    • A Twitter feed and Facebook Fan Page with new Prevention Points you can put into action at your school
    • Success stories from those on the front lines
    • Emerging best practices in school climate research and evaluation
    • New downloadable activities and worksheets
    • Supplemental staff development questions
    • Questions to facilitate further discussion and follow-up among your students
    • Featured case studies

    Resources will be added and continuously updated on the site, so visit often!

    Breakdown of Chapters

    Before we can dive into the details of School Climate 2.0, it is essential to build a solid foundation of understanding the online behaviors of adolescents. In Chapter 1 we begin the discussion by focusing on the intersection of teens and technology and how the inseparability of adolescents from their high-tech devices affects, and is influenced by, what is going on at school. In Chapter 2, we outline the characteristics of a positive school climate along with some of the beneficial outcomes associated with such an environment.

    In Chapter 3 we detail the nature of bullying in the 21st century. In many ways the bullying of today is very similar to the way it was when we were growing up. But technology has enabled would-be bullies to extend their reach, resulting in many significant challenges for educators, parents, and others who are working to resolve relationship problems. Cyberbullying, which we define as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices, typically refers to incidents in which students threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers through malicious text messages, web pages, or postings on Facebook or YouTube. It is clear that peer harassment that occurs on school grounds is a significant threat to a positive school climate. That said, online bullying also disrupts the ability of students to feel safe and secure at school. The vast majority of the time, targets of cyberbullying know the person doing the bullying (85 percent of the time in our research), and most of the time the bully is someone from their school. If students regularly post hurtful, embarrassing, or threatening messages to a fellow classmate's Facebook page, for example, it unquestionably affects that student's ability to feel comfortable, free, and safe to focus on learning at school.

    Chapter 4 describes sexting, which we define as the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive nude or seminude images or video that generally occurs via cell phone (although it can also occur via the Web). Some have described this problem in dismissive ways, calling it this generation's way of “flirting” or characterizing it as a safer way to experiment sexually and come to terms with one's own sexuality. While this may be true in part, engaging in sexting can lead to some significant social and legal consequences.

    We begin to tie everything together in Chapter 5, where we explicitly link school climate to online misbehaviors. Here again we argue that schools with better climates will see fewer cyberbullying, sexting, or other online problems among students. Ancillary benefits for educators who harness the power of a positive climate at school may include better attendance, higher school achievement, and more cooperative attitudes across the student body and among staff. A school with a positive climate is definitely more enjoyable to work and learn in, and can therefore lead to many other beneficial outcomes for students and staff alike. The remaining chapters of the book focus on providing you with strategies to establish and maintain a positive climate (Chapter 6) through peer mentoring and social norming (Chapter 7), assessment (Chapter 8), and appropriate response strategies (Chapter 9).


    We are particularly proud of this book and hope that it conveys knowledge and strategies that can make a meaningful difference in improving schools. That is what we are all about; we believe that you picked this up because you feel the same. Just as you need the assistance of others at your school to promote a positive climate, we have needed the assistance of a number of important individuals in our personal and professional lives to move the ideas from our heads onto these pages.

    We are first and foremost very grateful to have supportive families who have nurtured and inspired us over the years. We would also like to convey appreciation to our professional colleagues who stand alongside us on the front lines of online safety issues among youth. In particular, we thank those who contributed their insights and experiences to this volume. They include Lissa Albert, Steve Bollar, Alan Chmiel, Alison Trachtman Hill, Nathan Jeffrey, Barry Kamrath, Amanda Lenhart, Kim Mazauskas, Gary McDaniel, Allyson Pereira, Mark Trachtenbroit, and Derek Waterstreet. We also thank Charley Nelson and the Jostens Renaissance program for showing us what a good school climate can look like.

    In addition, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the Division of Research at Florida Atlantic University provided valuable financial assistance to our research efforts, which allows our ideas to be substantiated in part by data. We would also like to thank the staff at Corwin and SAGE Publications for working with us to produce a book that will help educators tackle some of the challenging problems created by the misuse of technology.

    Finally, we would like to thank God for giving us the opportunities and abilities to make a positive difference in the lives of adolescents. We are very blessed to truly love what we do.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin would like to thank the following individuals for taking the time to provide their editorial insight:

    • Carol S. Cash, Assistant Professor
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • Blacksburg, VA
    • Ann Dargon, Superintendent
    • Ashland
    • Wareham, MA
    • Tonia Guidry, Teacher
    • Golden Meadow Middle School
    • Golden Meadow, LA
    • Brigitte Tennis, Headmistress
    • Stella Schola Middle School
    • Redmond, WA

    About the Authors

    Sameer Hinduja, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). He is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work on the subjects of cyberbullying and safe social networking. He works with the US Department of Education and many state departments of education to improve their policies and programming related to teen technology misuse. He has written four books, and his interdisciplinary research is widely published in a number of peer-reviewed academic journals. Dr. Hinduja received his PhD from Michigan State University. At FAU, he has been named both Researcher of the Year and Teacher of the Year, the two highest honors across the university.

    Justin W. Patchin, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He received his PhD from Michigan State University. For over ten years he has been exploring the intersection of teens and technology, with particular focus on cyberbullying, social networking, and sexting. He travels around the country training educators, counselors, law enforcement officers, parents, and youth on how to prevent and address the consequences of cyberbullying. Dr. Patchin has written four books and numerous articles on adolescent behaviors online. He has presented at the White House and the FBI Academy and has appeared on CNN, on NPR, and in the New York Times to discuss issues related to teens' use and misuse of technology.

    Dr. Hinduja and Dr. Patchin co-direct the Cyberbullying Research Center ( and authored Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying (also with Corwin), which was named Educator Book of the Year by ForeWord Reviews.

  • CORWIN: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

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