Cyberbullying is happening all around us. Kids are bullying kids online and via text messaging everyday. In a recent study, one-third of all teens admitted they had been cyberbullied or harassed online at some point. This number is probably very low considering many acts of cyberbullying go unreported.
Cyberbullying can involve any number of harmful or hurtful acts such as receiving threatening or harassing messages; having private emails and text messages forwarded without consent; having an embarrassing picture posted online without permission; or having rumors spread online. It can even go as far as “posing” as the victim and creating fake posts, texts and emails.
The scary part is the “secretive” nature of the acts, both by the victims and the offenders. Victims are often too ashamed or scared to tell an adult, and maybe don’t realize the dangers and reality of cyberbullying.
So, what can YOU do?
- Educate students, parents, teachers, and staff members about cyberbullying, its dangers, and what to do if they suspect that someone is cyberbullied.
- Encourage students to be aware of friends that may be cyberbullied, and help them get assistance.
- Use tools such as buttons and banners to educate students and staff. Customize them with your message.
- Be aware of all cases of cyberbullying. Remember even if cyberbullying occurs off-campus, it can still be a school-related issue. it can travel like wildfire among students affecting how they behave and relate to each other at school.
- Make sure that your school’s anti-bullying rules and policies address cyberbullying.
- Closely monitor student use of computers at school.
- Use filtering and tracking software on all computers, but don’t rely solely on this software to screen out cyberbullying and other problematic online behavior.
- Investigate reports of cyberbullying immediately. If cyberbullying occurs through the school district’s internet system, you are obligated to take action. If the cyberbullying occurs off-campus, consider what actions you might take to help address the bullying:
- Notify parents of victims and parents of cyberbullies of known or suspected cyberbullying.
- Closely monitor the behavior of the affected students at school for possible bullying.
- Notify the police if the known or suspected cyberbullying involves a threat.
- Contact the police immediately if known or suspected cyberbullying involves acts such as: threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages, stalking, or anything you feel is inappropriate or crosses the line.
Cyberbullying is serious. Experts believe it will only continue to grow as a form of harassment among teens. Education is key. Our kids need to know that it is wrong. Parents, school staff and volunteers need to know what signs to look for and what questions to ask. Take steps now to combat cyberbullying in your school.
Have you experienced cyberbullying in your class or school? What was the outcome?