PATTERNS OF INTIMIDATION: THE ROLE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS
Small Business Information
724 DULANEY VALLEY RD, STE 2, TOWSON, MD, 21204
AbstractIn Phase I, the goal of this SBIR project is to determine the feasibility of using a web-based system for addressing the problem of intimidation and bullying among 6th, 7th, and 8th grade children in the school setting. A major innovation is the estimation of social network parameters which are relevant to bullying behaviors, their effects, and bully and victim status and role. The proposed system will consist of two complementary but distinct software components, and will be enhanced with a training workshop. The first software program will collect data used in the description of each classroom's informal social network,in addition to collecting data involving intimidation and bullying behaviors. The second system entails a mapping and assessment system used by school counselors to assist in analysis and prevention. Together, these two systems, to be implemented and tested over the course of Phase I and Phase II, are intended to support two levels of intervention: (1) individual "treatment" by counselors of both bullies and victims; and (2) using social network parameters to identify influence leaders and group dynamics involved in bullying, as well as potential victims. In Phase I the main aims are (1) to implement and test the feasibility of an effective and efficient interface which children in school can use to record data on social networks and intimidation events; (2) automatic calculation and presentation to counselors of relevant social network parameters; (3) initial development and software implementation of materials and functions to support training workshops for program development and interventions. For ongoing long-term development and evolution of a software system, implementation of the software as a web-based, multi-tier (i.e., web client, middleware and data base server) internet client-server system has significant advantages. Deployment of such a system across classrooms and schools is far easier compared to traditional client- server models, since no proprietary networking software is needed nor does proprietary software (other than an internet browser) need to be installed and maintained on individual computers. The proposed system's reliance on Java for both the web client and middleware development provides real platform independence, important when many schools use a mix of Apple Macintosh and Windows-based systems. Having subject data kept centrally and off-site in a secure data base server enhances confidentiality and security. In Phase II targeted interventions will be guided by social network parameters, and outcomes will be systematically assessed through use of the system. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: Intimidation and bullying is a broad type of aggressive behavior that is prevalent in schools and is often ignored or downplayed, but which appears to have significant short- and long-term negative effects. In school settings it is difficult to measure, observe, and prevent bullying behavior. Effective software for detecting social networks and their role in perpetuating bullying behavior and guiding interventions has significant commercial potential.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.