Expert on Cyberbullying: Shaheen Shariff is Associate Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and an international expert in cyberbullying. Why we think Shariff is a cyberbullying expert to follow:
Her Ph.D. involved legal standards relating to bullying in schools. She has written and edited numerous works on bullying, cyberbullying and digital safety for youth and is a sought-after speaker. Her latest volume, Truths and Myths of Cyber-Bullying, is a collection of essays of international cyberbullying experts and well worth the read.
Our Editorial: We think Shariff is particularly good at seeing big picture ideas relating to cyberbullying. For example, she poses very difficult questions about how all stakeholders have responsibility in the cyberbullying crisis because of the way we treat each other, proposing changes in how not only youth, but also adults treat each other, etc. She has drawn some particularly useful analogies between cyberbullying and William Golding’s classic novel, Lord of the Flies, noting that because of the digital gap between youth and adults, and the anonymity of digital tools, youth have placed themselves on an “island” where adults are largely not present, and where exclusion, ostracism, and even violence can all too easily take place without the normal restraints of accountability. However, Shariff offers some very interesting hope that the digital debacle actually represents “an opportunity with infinite potential”:
“…cyberbullying, as currently defined, is not a battle, but a plea for improved and increased attention to education, dialogue, bonding and engagement with our young people. In that regard, it is an opportunity with infinite potential to address ignorance, overcome orthodoxy and undertake the challenges of our shared knowledge society through ethical, educational, digital-bonding and legally defensible policies and practices. Our children and society, as a whole, deserve no less.”
Source: Shariff, S. (2008) Cyber-bullying: Issues and solutions for the school, the Classroom and the home. New York, Routledge.
Bravo, Shariff! Thanks for showing us the bigger picture and that there are opportunities here if we will only see them.