Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., is the Director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age.
Nancy entered the field of “bullying prevention” by writing the first book ever published on cyberbullying. She approaches issues of youth risk based on a digital age perspective. Key insight related to this perspective is that the “authoritarian mindset,” which assumes that adults are in control, is not well founded.
Nancy’s approach is grounded in youth empowerment and restorative practices. To help young people embrace civility requires a focus on the quality of the school or organization climate, empowering young people with the values and skills necessary to foster positive relationships, and ensuring that when adults intervene in hurtful situations this results in an effective resolution that fully supports all involved students.
Nancy has degrees in special education and law, taught “at risk” children, practiced computer law, and was an educational technology and digital safety consultant. Her approach to youth risk prevention recognizes that in the digital age it is necessary for adults to empower young people with the values and skills to embrace civility.
Nancy is author of: Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Cruelty, Threats, and Distress (2007, Research Press) and Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens, Helping Young People Use the Internet Safety and Responsibly (2007, Jossey Bass). Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility (2011, Corwin Press).
Seven Pillars for Success
Commit to Scientific Integrity and Effective Practice
There are no research-based best practices in this field. To ensure a likelihood of success, it is necessary to implement approaches that are informed by accurate research into the concerns and implement the use of practices that have demonstrated effectiveness in other areas of youth risk prevention.
Ensure Ongoing Assessment and Evaluation
Ongoing local assessment and evaluation are critical to ensure success. Use of local surveying of students to support needs assessment, positive norms instruction, and evaluation is recommended. Schools must specifically evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.
Engage in Multidisciplinary Collaboration
Effectively addressing youth risk in the digital age will require a multidisciplinary collaborative approach that involves educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Comprehensive approaches must be ground in solid policies and practices, provide professional development, present student and parent education, and ensure ongoing evaluation.
Foster Restoration and Reconciliation
Interventions should be designed to hold young people accountable for any wrongdoing in a manner that fosters restoration and reconciliation. This will enable all young people to remain in safe school and digital communities.
Reinforce Positive Norms
Universal education must promote the positive norms and effective practices held by the majority of the students. This can be accomplished through student-led constructive instruction, use of older students to teach younger students, and messaging ground in the insight derived through the local surveys.
Strengthen Effective Skills
Constructive instruction can also help students gain skills through sharing of effective practices and strategies. Effective skills include problem-solving and decision-making. Students must also recognize possible negative influences related to the use of technologies, as well as the influences for making positive choices.
Encourage Helpful Allies
Many times young people interact in digital environments where no responsible adults are present. As helpful allies, young people can provide support to a peer who is at risk or being harmed, challenge irresponsible or hurtful behavior, and report unresolved or serious concerns.
Phone: (541) 556-1145
Address: P.O. Box 899, Creswell, Oregon 97426
About the .org
Embrace Civility in the Digital Age is an assumed business name of Nancy Willard. I was trying to establish a non-profit corporation to do more effective outreach. And so purchased the .org URL. I simply reached the point of realizing that I am incapable of doing the work I am doing AND manage a corporation. However, since I am now known as embracecivility.org and since there really are no official standards for the .org suffix, that is what I will continue to be.