I found a useful blog post for teachers called How to Prevent Cyberbullying in the Classroom.
It offers nine recommendations for teachers to help stop cyberbullying before it starts. Here is a quick summary of each point:
- Create digital citizens – Teach that in the cyber world, just as in real life, nice is nice and mean is mean. The same rules apply even though Cyberbullying is impersonal in nature. Teachers should teach digital citizenship much as they teach rules.
- Educate yourself – Technology is always changing. Each week, do a bit of research on what technologies students are using and misusing. Then you will have the confidence to discuss the topic in class.
- Discuss bullying – Talk about technology risks, cyber safety and positive online communities. Also, discuss cases of cyber-bullying that are appropriate for the age-level you are teaching.
- Supervise – When students are using devices at school, there is a potential for them to be come perpetrators or victims of cyber-bulling. Their activities should be actively monitored.
- Teach students it’s ok to report abuse – The school should set up an anonymous way for students to report cyber-bulling. Knowing they might be reported may be enough to prevent cyberbullies from attacking.
- Establish firm policies – Rules need to be explicit rather than assumed. Create clear boundaries and policies surrounding verbal aggression. Establish it as unacceptable behaviour. Include legal implications.
- Encourage active student participation and decision making – Students know better than anyone what apps and programs are being used by their peers, and how they may be misused. They should be involved in creating rules.
- Finding the right resources – For the bully, it shouldn’t be all about punishment. They need to understand the consequences of their actions. They can benefit from counselling. Restorative justice techniques work well!
- Know when to use community resources – Let students know that it is ok to talk to someone. Some situations require the assistance of people other than teachers such as counsellors, administrators, and law enforcement.
In Canada, we hear about bullying horror stories in the media from time to time. Here are a few that stand out:
The Rehteah Parsons case is the saddest, most frustrating, and horrendous cyberbullying case that the world has seen, I would argue. To think it happened in my home province of Nova Scotia is even more heartbreaking.
The story of Brett Corbett in Glace Bay, Cape Breton being bullied – literally walked on by other students in a stream – is highly disturbing. It seems that the media attention this case received gave his bullies a reason to stop. The victim has become a hero!
The recent events in Hamilton, Ontario of a boy being stabbed behind his school and dying in the arms of his mother are absolutely appalling. One wishes that the school administration had done more to deal with these bullies. Could they have prevented this horrifying murder?
As teachers, we need to be vigilant and take matters of bullying and cyber bullying seriously.
What experiences have you had with cyber-bullying? What blogs or resources have you found that would be helpful to teachers?