Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., is the Director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age. She has degrees in special education and law, taught “at risk” children, practiced computer law, and was an educational technology consultant before focusing her professional attention on issues of youth risk online and management of student Internet use.
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).
Nancy has been on the cutting-edge in addressing issues related to the impact of digital technologies on youth risk, starting her work in in this area in 1995. In 2000, she testified before the Children’s Online Protection Commission urging an educational approach to address the concerns of youth access to pornography. Her book on cyberbullying was the first book published in the world addressing this critical issue. Several years ago, she initiated a Google Group to facilitate ongoing communications between this nation’s leading proponents of a research-grounded, effective, multidisciplinary approach to address youth risk around issues of digital technologies. You can join this Group on this site.
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: 474 W 29th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97405
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.