SYS-CON UK Authors: Salvatore Genovese, Jeremy Geelan, Jamie Matusow

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Study Finds Education Program Effective in Preventing Cyberbullying

D.A.R.E./iKeepSafe Program Deemed Effective by Educators, Online Safety Expert

DALLAS, June 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As children enjoy the numerous benefits of the Internet, they are also constantly faced with a number of challenges, including cyberbullying. However, AT&T*, iKeepSafe, D.A.R.E. and Symantec today announced the results of a recent study that demonstrates the effectiveness of an innovative educational program launched last year to provide children with the knowledge and tools to respond to a cyberbullying situation.

The study, conducted by online safety expert and Educational Technology Policy, Research and Outreach Director (ET-PRO) Dr. Davina Pruitt-Mentle, found that:

  • The number of students describing multiple effective responses to cyberbullying scenarios increased by more than 43 percent.
  • The program helped students understand that their negative action - such as telling the cyberbully to stop - may serve to antagonize the cyberbully into continuing their behavior; or deleting the message, can eliminate a source of evidence and a means to track the perpetrator.
  • Student recognition that they should tell a trusted adult when someone else was being cyberbullied went up 77 percent.
  • Students recognized the 3 Keeps of Internet Safety (online safety lessons taught by iKeepSafe), including not giving out personal information; they were taught the dangers of revealing personal information through online communication.
  • Teachers found the content relevant and timely, D.A.R.E. officers' depth and breadth of technical knowledge valuable in answers to students' questions, and students highly motivated and engaged during the movie and with the follow up discussion and group work.

The curriculum is taught to children in grades five and six during the school year by D.A.R.E. officers in classrooms throughout the country. Students are taught by DARE officers how to identify cyberbullying and steps the students can take to prevent and to combat it. Students learn to protect their privacy and reach out for help if they--or friends--become victims of cyberbullying. To date, approximately 3,200 officers have been trained to provide the instruction.

The ET-PRO study was made public during national Internet Safety Month by iKeepSafe, D.A.R.E., AT&T and Symantec. Among the other findings, the study discovered that students used references to the cyberbullying program's character, Faux Paw, when strategizing responses to a cyberbullying situation. This ET-PRO study said this is particularly important because, "Psychology literature indicates the importance of visualization and mnemonics in memorizing and comprehending information." Therefore, there is a higher chance students will remember the information in the future. ET-PRO is scheduled to retest the students later this year.

"iKeepSafe is committed to providing resources and training to create a generation of responsible, ethical, and resilient cyber-citizens," said Marsali Hancock, president of iKeepSafe. "We are encouraged by the results of the study demonstrating the increase among students about understanding privacy on the web by protecting personal information, how to identify cyber-bullying, and how to report being cyber-bullied -- all critical lessons for students who are immersed in technology from a young age. The materials for grades 5-6 included in the study are actually part of a larger program which includes resources for grades 1-4 that were created in partnership with AT&T and Symantec."

Hancock also noted that the study showed teachers responded positively to the program, that it has "filled the gap in meeting their immediate training needs, and proved to be an effective way to bring up stimulating conversation about cyberbullying and kept students' attention and interest."

"At AT&T, we strive to provide the tools, including consumer services and education, that help make the Internet experience safer," said Charlene Lake, senior vice president of Public Affairs and chief sustainability officer. "It's essential for us to know whether we're reaching students with safety messages on cyberbullying. This study demonstrates that not only do more students know they should protect their privacy online, but that they know what to do if they discover a friend is being cyberbullied. Those are important lessons for children to learn in the communications age."

The study included a select group of more than 1,100 students from sixteen private and public schools in urban, suburban and rural areas. Nearly one-half of the students surveyed were considered minority, including African-American, Native American/Alaskan Native and Latino.

"Symantec is committed to educating computer users about how to stay safe from all types of online threats, like viruses and online identity theft to inappropriate content and cyberbullying," said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec. "The issue of cyberbullying is a particularly difficult topic for parents and kids. That's why we are pleased to see that the D.A.R.E./iKeepSafe Cyberbullying Extension Unit's efforts to educate kids about this important issue is having a positive impact on how kids react to cyberbullying."

In addition to online safety services, AT&T provides free education programs for children, parents, communities and seniors. Materials and more information can be found at www.att.com/safety. Symantec's family online safety tips and resources, including a free Family Online Safety Guide, can be found at www.norton.com/familyresource.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates - AT&T operating companies - are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest 3G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet and voice services. AT&T offers the best wireless coverage worldwide, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse(SM) and AT&T | DIRECTV(SM) brands. The company's suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T's Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations are known for their leadership in directory publishing and advertising sales. In 2009, AT&T again ranked No. 1 in the telecommunications industry on FORTUNE(R) magazine's list of the World's Most Admired Companies. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com.

Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com. Follow our news on Twitter at @ATTNews. Find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ATT to discover more about our consumer and wireless services.

(C) 2009 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. 3G service not available in all areas. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

About the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (www.iKeepSafe.org)

The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a broad partnership of governors, first spouses or attorneys general from all 50 states, the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the NEA, National PTA and corporate sponsors, dedicated to keeping children safe online. The Coalition provides parent tutorials and educational resources, including the Faux Paw the Techno Cat(TM) Internet safety series of books and animated films for children. Coalition materials are distributed throughout the United States with pilot programs worldwide, including China, India and Australia.

About Norton from Symantec

Symantec's Norton products protect consumers from traditional threats with antivirus, anti-spam and spyware protection, as well as bots, drive-by downloads and identity theft-- while also being light on system resources. The company also provides services such as PC help from NortonLive and online backup, and is a trusted source for family online safety.

About Symantec

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available at www.symantec.com.


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