DETROIT – The Internet doesn’t come with instructions on its proper use, which is one of the reasons many teens and adults have difficulty determining what is or isn’t appropriate online behavior.

As a result, cyberbullying is on the rise. To combat this trend, the Wayne State University School of Social Work created the CyberMentoring program.

Since fall 2011, WSU social work students dubbed CyberMentors have been meeting weekly with teens at University Preparatory Academy High School in Detroit. Mentors and mentees meet face-to-face and communicate using texting, instant messaging, Skype and other applications beyond school hours.

On Thursday, March 8, the School of Social Work will host a Cyber Summit to highlight the program as well as provide resources and legislation information to the community. The event will be held in Student Center Building room 289 on WSU’s campus from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Guest speakers include Detroit City Council Member Saunteel Jenkins and Kevin Epling, father of bullied teen Matt Epling, who sparked Michigan’s Matt’s Law. Matt’s Law requires every school district in Michigan to have an anti-bullying policy.

Janet Joiner, assistant dean for student affairs in the School of Social Work, said by showing students how to use the Internet to empower themselves and others, they’re helping decrease the incidence of harassment via social media.

“Our goal is to bring awareness to the issue of cyberbullying at the high school and college levels while increasing online civility and the responsible use of social media,” Joiner said. “Cyber social work is a new discipline, but one that will become more prominent as we advance technologically.”

The Cyber Summit is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Thomas Crepeau at (586) 855-0554.


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