Back-2-School: Addressing Cyberbullying at School

Back-2-School: Addressing Cyberbullying at School

Cyberbullying has become a significant issue as Juniors and Seniors are becoming progressively reliant on technology for both educational and social use. Many suggestions to combat cyberbullying are out there, but because of the complexity of this issue there will never be one size fits approach to cyberbullying.

Although the subject of cyberbullying is still a taboo subject for some, many just choose to ignore it.  It is important that our schools address this matter so that pupils can have an idea of how they can protect themselves from becoming victims.

The answer isn’t forbidding technology, say experts, so much as teaching kids right from wrong. As an Educator, you can be a powerful force in promoting a climate of respect. Educate yourself and be on the lookout for signs that cyberbullying is taking place, because you may be the trusted adult a student turns to for help.

We need to keep an open conversation about the subject at hand as this is the only way we will be able to put an end to the malicious circle of cyberbullying.

While most of these incidents occur at home, the problems spill over to the classroom, making cyberbullying an issue Educators can’t ignore.

Here’s what educators can do to address cyberbullying in our schools:

  1. It is no secret that the world is more digitalized than it was 10-15 years ago and there is no turning back. Therefore, it is very important that within our own communities we should create responsible digital citizens. Children at school should be taught about the ever-changing world of technology. If schools are using technology to deliver education and instruction, they have a responsibility to educate students so they use it correctly
  2. As much as children can be taught how they can remain cyber safe or tech-savvy,  it would be very ignorant of our schools not to acknowledge the sad fact that cyberbullying is something that is already affecting many children in our country. Therefore, educators should raise awareness about this issue in our schools. Cyberbullying should be as an important subject as, if not more so, than Mathematics. Awareness can be raised by choosing an age appropriate cyberbullying case study and let the learner engage on how this issue can be resolved. 
  3. Children should also be made aware that reporting is important. They should be taught that staying silent about cyberbullying is not okay, in fact it is unhealthy and does more harm than good. Very often children shy away from reporting because they are afraid of the rejection they will receive from their peers. Some fear that their access to their cellphones and computers will be removed by their parents. These should not be the reasons that stop children from reporting any form abuse.
  4. The Establishment of Policies: Policies should be established and thoroughly communicated to students and parents until fully understood. Setting clear boundaries will eliminate problems of cyberbullying before they even occur and if students go beyond those boundaries they should be made aware that they will have to face consequences for their actions. Schools are struggling to create policies that deal with cyberbullying and the use of cell phones at schools. Experts say banning technology is not the answer, but rather teaching kids to be good digital citizens. When schools adopt codes of conduct, they should apply to activity in or out of school and set the consequences up front. The notion that home and school are two separate spaces no longer exists in the minds of digital kids.
  5. Get Parents Involved: Many parents might not be aware of cyberbullying and they dangers thereof. Schools need to get parents informed and involved, so that the conversation about cyberbullying will not only end at school but will continue into the home.  Schools are an important place to connect with parents and disseminate information about online safety. Invite parents to workshops about cyberbullying and share the school’s policy. Encourgage parents to be involved in their kids’ online lives.  They’re often involved in Soccer Netball, drama or football, they similarly need to be encouraged to be passionate about what kids are doing online. Just as it is now unsafe to let children run around outside at night , the message to parents should be that they shouldn’t let their children be online unsupervised. 

School is the centre of a child’s life and they spend about 80% of their life at school. Online harassment may take place on nights and at home, but the fallout is often seen at school and can interfere with the educational environment. In the worst case, students are so worried about cyberbullying that they can’t focus on their studies or are afraid to come to school. It has become a school climate and safety issue.

It is important that schools not only create an educational environment for students, but create a safe, healthy, holistic environment that extends outside of the borders of the classroom. 

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