Protecting Students From Cyberbullying

How Teachers Can Prevent and Intervene

Teachers can prevent many incidents of social harassment and cyberbullying. They should discuss the issue early in the school year so that students are equipped to avoid potential conflicts. Many jurisdictions have designated the a week early in the school year as Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week and would be a perfect time for teachers to design lessons that familiarize their students with prevention strategies.

Important prevention strategies that teachers should review with students include reacting appropriately to online flare-ups with peers in order to de-escalate tensions, keeping passwords private, being careful about which photos they share, and learning about the privacy settings and reporting features on all of the social sites they use.

When a teacher identifies that a student is a victim of cyber-bullying, it is
important that the student is made to feel comfortable talking about the issue and parents/guardians are notified. The student should be told to record the details of the harassment and take a screenshot for evidence. Also, the incident should be reported to the social media site to block the person responsible; and if criminal offences, such as threats, assaults and sexual exploitation occur then they need to be reported to the local police department. Regardless of where it occurs, teachers have a professional and moral responsibility to recognize student vulnerability and act to mitigate it.

Steps for teachers to prevent cyber-bullying from occurring:
1. Talk to your class about bullying at the beginning of the school year to prevent
incidents throughout the year.
2. Use opportunities such as Bullying Awareness Week to engage in activities that
deepen your students’ understanding about the issue.
3. Inform students that they do not have to be friends with everyone, but they must respects everyone’s right to be safe and treated with dignity.
4. Be a positive role model: set an example of inclusiveness and stand up for anyone who is bullied.
5. Listen to what your students say and take it seriously.
6. Teach how to react appropriately with online flare-ups and that responding to
abusive comments, emails, or posts will only escalate the conflict.
7. Remind students to keep their passwords private and to be careful about which photos they share.
8. Encourage them to learn about the privacy settings and reporting features on all of the social sites they use.

If your student is a victim of cyber-bullying:
1. Help the student to feel comfortable about talking about the issue to you and that bullying should not be dealt with alone.
2. If it is a text or email, save it. If it is a post to a social networking site, take a
screenshot for evidence.
3. Record the details of the bullying and/or ask the student to save a screenshot.
4. If the student is not opening up, encourage the student to confide in a trusted adult or to contact the confidential and toll-free Kids Help Phone.
5. Report (consult) the bullying to school administrators.
6. Report criminal offences, such as threats, assaults and sexual exploitation to your local police department.
7. Report online bullying to the social media site and block the person responsible.

 

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