Grant money to help schools fight cyberbullying

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--February 13, 2008--The Qwest Foundation today announced its support of the Seattle Public Schools with a $20,000 donation to benefit its K-12 cyberbullying prevention curriculum. The funds will help develop training materials for adults, implement a training model for teachers, and put tools and resources to use in order to better educate families on how to prevent and deal with cyberbullying.

"Many years ago we never would have imagined that our children would have to face the prospect of being bullied online," said Kirk Nelson, Qwest president for Washington. "Because it is a reality, Qwest wants to help put a stop to it by contributing funds to the Seattle Public Schools in their groundbreaking mission."

The Seattle Public Schools plans to help address this societal problem by working to educate teachers, parents and youth. This work follows the passage of a revised Anti-Harassment Board policy in the spring of 2007. In seminars for parents and families, they highlight the following statistics:

-- 33-40 percent of teens say they have been bullied online
-- 58 percent do not tell their parents
-- 54 percent have had no computer classes in Internet safety
-- Effects of cyberbullying range from trouble concentrating in school and low grades, to anxiety, depression and loneliness and health problems such as headaches, stomachaches and lack of appetite

Senior program consultant for the Seattle Public Schools Mike Donlin said they are seeing more and more situations involving online peer abuse, with young people, parents and teachers lacking the background and experience to deal with it.

"Our mission is to prepare students for success in school and in life, and the Internet is definitely a part of 21 st century life," Donlin said. "This support from Qwest will allow us to develop programs and materials for parents, students and teachers that will not only better educate them, but also help keep them safe in our digital world."

Qwest has demonstrated a long-term commitment to online safety and began creating extensive Internet education tools for families through the Incredible Internet program in 2003. At IncredibleInternet.com, parents and their kids can access information about how to safely use communications technologies to enhance their lives and stay connected. In conjunction with the Incredible Internet program, Qwest has developed important partnerships with organizations including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), law enforcement agencies and educational leaders. Resources at IncredibleInternet.com are available in both English and Spanish.

The Seattle Public Schools offers workshops for parents, staff and other groups who are interested in learning about the issues around cyberbullying. For more information, or to arrange for a presentation, please call Mike Donlin at 206-252-0799.

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