Summer Trend May Be Breeding Ground for Cyberbullying

Every year, the rise in temperature brings a new measurement of the hottest trends—the take-off song of the summer, the highest-grossing summer movie, the must-have toy or fashion of the season. Add to that list, the app of the summer.

Sarahah, which means candor or openness in Arabic, is an app that was designed to help users discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from their employees and friends in a private manner. According to Fortune, it’s the app of the summer. But its explosive growth has apparently been driven by teenagers, raising a host of concerns about safety. Despite the developer’s good intentions, users are reporting that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.

 

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United Way & NFL Are Teaching Kids How to Build Healthy Relationships to Keep Them Safe From Harm

Every year, the rise in temperature brings a new measurement of the hottest trends—the take-off song of the summer, the highest-grossing summer movie, the must-have toy or fashion of the season. Add to that list, the app of the summer.

Sarahah, which means candor or openness in Arabic, is an app that was designed to help users discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from their employees and friends in a private manner. According to Fortune, it’s the app of the summer. But its explosive growth has apparently been driven by teenagers, raising a host of concerns about safety. Despite the developer’s good intentions, users are reporting that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.

Bullying and cyberbullying continue to be pervasive issues that put immense pressure on communities across the U.S. In response, United Way teamed up with the NFL to create Character Playbook, a digital program that trains middle school students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions and step in when they see questionable activity.

But technology isn’t the problem or the solution. To keep today’s youth safe from harm, we need to better equip them with the knowledge they need to recognize cyberbullying for the problem it is and prevent it from happening in the first place. The Character Playbook curriculum was endorsed by experts in social and emotional learning, as well as relationship-building, and teaches youth how to:

Think more about what’s influencing them
Better understand and manage their emotions
Communicate effectively
Resolve conflicts
Step in to stop negative behavior
Make good decisions

Social and emotional learning is a teachable skill. Implemented at scale, it can change the narrative of a classroom, a school, a community. Together, the National Football League and United Way are working to ensure this tool is available to all schools free of charge. For more information, visit characterplaybook.com.

6 Ways to Help Kids Combat Summer Learning Loss

Summer learning loss – which is what happens when school’s out and young minds sit idle — accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by ninth grade. The good news is that we can close the gap and help students stay on track even when they are out of school. It’s as simple as making sure kids have access to books and enriching activities, a caring adult to help them improve their reading and math skills, and good nutrition to help focus the mind. Here’s what you can do to help kids combat summer learning loss:

  • Volunteer to distribute meals and read with kids at summer food sites. In Cocoa, FL, United Way of Brevard’s Feed and Read Program provides nutrition, mentoring, and free books to low income children during the summer school break. Each child can read one-on-one with an adult and in a group, and receives weekly back-pack meals and age-appropriate books to keep in their personal library. Efforts like these depend on volunteers: about 80 reading volunteers will help out in Brevard County this summer, plus about 40 more that help run book drives and inspect and sort books. Some of the food packing events have up to 250 volunteers.
  • Expand digital access to books. United Way of Brevard also helped bring myON, a digital reading platform, to all Brevard public elementary school students, providing each child with access to more than 5,000 free books with read aloud, dictionary, Spanish/English translation and other instructional techniques. Learn more about myON and explore what options are available at your local library or school.
  • Enroll a child in a summer reading contest. Most libraries have a free summer reading program with prizes and rewards for children who read throughout the summer.
  • Donate toys, books, puzzles and board games to libraries and out of school programs.
  • Tell Congress to protect funding for summer school and after school programs.
  • Spread the word about summer learning loss. Share these tips for creating or finding enriching summer learning opportunities.

Maintaining and sharpening reading and math skills in the summer months is one of the best things we can do to help all children grow and thrive. Contact your local United Way to find out how to volunteer to help keep kids on track to be successful in school and in life.

 

MEI COBB,