Cyberbullying for Teachers: How to help your students prevent it and overcome it

As a teacher, you feel responsible for shaping your students’ minds; you educate them, nurture them and help them grow. In these present times, where technology rules everything, it is also essential that you teach them about the proper way to use technology and save themselves from the dangers of bullying and Cyberbullying.

There are things that you need to know about Cyberbullying for teachers:

  1. Children are always reluctant to tell their teachers about being a victim of Cyberbullying, the reason being that they fear losing their cell phone and internet privileges. So if a student comes to you with that complaint don’t threaten them with banning them from using the school’s computer lab but encourage them to tell you the whole story. Be their friend, not someone they fear.
  2. Learn to spot the signs of Cyberbullying. A student may be facing bullying if He/she
  • Becomes sad or tense while using the internet or their cell phone.
  • Looks anxious or distressed while looking at a text or email
  • Avoids detailing his/her internet activity
  • Is withdrawn from crowds and remains reclusive for long periods of time
  • Refuses to engage in group activities
  • Shows mood changes or behaviour changes for no apparent reason
  • Shows signs of depression or anxiety
  • Shows poor grades and failure to deliver assignments on time

How to prevent Cyberbullying before it starts:

  1. Teach your students not to blame themselves if they are facing any sort of bullying and to be proud of themselves as human beings. Address the fact that being bullied is not a stigma or a taboo or something they should be ashamed of.
  2. Educate your students to refuse to share/repost hate messages or comments about other students, tell them it is mean and might happen to them one day.
  3. Encourage them to stand up for others who might be victims of bullying, even reporting it to school is standing up
  4. Encourage them to tell their friends to stop spreading hate messages on any social media platform or via texting and IMs
  5. Tell them it is never wrong to block people who may be engaging in Cyberbullying activities, it is also essential to tell them not to open messages/emails/IMs from people they don’t know and to delete these communications without reading them
  6. Teach them which of their personal information is perfect for sharing online and which isn’t. For example, one must never mention (full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number) or their friends’ personal information.
  7. Create a safe classroom space for children to talk about their online activity without judgment or sarcasm.
  8. Tell them that if they have something personal to share with friends, it is best not to share these things through IMs or emails or texts because they never know for sure who might see these things.
  9. Talk about anger management and how it is very important not to send IMs or texts or emails or share angry sentiments online because these messages can be used against them or hurt someone’s feelings.
  10. Teach them that politeness online is as important as politeness in person
  11. Learn that, as a teacher, it is perfectly acceptable to monitor your students’ online activity from afar without invasion of their privacy. It might help save someone’s feelings and image.
  12. Keep an anonymous comment box in your classroom where children can report incidents of cyber-bullying.
  13. If a student is a victim of Cyberbullying and comes to you, encourage them to save any evidence on their phone and computer and help them talk to their parents and the authorities about it while at the same time making sure that, by reporting, that student would not be in the way of any physical harm.
  14. Involve children in preventing Cyberbullying through the use of peer counselling.
  15. If a problem with Cyber-bullying persists, educate the student on how to contact any website that hosts these messages or the Internet Service Provider or the cell phone company.
  16. Provide counselling services at school for children involved in Cyber-bullying.
  17. If the bully is one of your students, talk to him/her about it and show them how much damage can their words and actions do, if they persist, involve the parents.
  18. Do tell your students that Cyber-bullying is punishable by the law. And that a cyber bully can face charges of a misdemeanour cyber-harassment charge or result in a charge of juvenile delinquency.
  19. Discuss which photos are considered “PG” and are fine for sharing and which photos are not and how they can be used against a student and can be used as pornographic material in some cases. Don’t judge children who have posted such photos and help them find a way to remove these photos online.
  20. Teach the children about the “Take Five” rule, which is for them to pause for a minute before they post hate messages or photos that may hurt someone or hurt them.
  21. Work with the students on creating a classroom policy that protects them from engaging in any activity that might be considered bullying.

Finally, remember that you are not the bad guy if you report what you believe is an incident of bullying or cyberbullying even if some students may not like you for reporting them. Remember that some children may react very emotionally to cyberbullying and that could get them to a very tragic end.

Learn more about Cyberbullying for Teachers.