Cyberbullying and Social Media
I think the primary weapons in the arsenal against cyberbullying are awareness and prevention. In a recent study (Wade and Beran, 2011) nearly thirty percent of students admitted to perpetrating cyberbullying. With the potential of so many students in a class being involved in cyberbullying it becomes fairly clear that reactive measures simply will not keep up to the sheer volume of incidents.
The first measure I would take is to be clear to my classes that bullying is an inappropriate activity and to be open about my opinions regarding bullying. I would talk to the students about how bullying is a circle, and that bullies tend to be people who have been bullied and so circumstances must be taken into account. I would discuss with the students what cyberbullying is, and the kinds of forms it can take, and how it can be harmful. I would make sure to discuss how cyberbullying can follow people home and how hurtful comments are not “just jokes” but can cause people real pain. I would talk about how the cyberbullied suffer problems similar to school-yard bullying (Patchin and Hinduja, 2010) and that if you can’t say it to someone’s face, most certainly do not say it to their online presence.
I would work to continue an atmosphere and openness and caring while monitoring student behavior for potential changes that could indicate that students are experiencing troubles. Most importantly, I would make it clear that since the bullies are often bullied coming forward isn’t about getting someone in trouble, it’s about assessing the situation and coming to a resolution for the conflict. Additionally, I would be careful to confront, professionally, possible bullying behavior from staff members to students (which I witnessed in my IPT).
Generally the goals of these actions are to create an atmosphere where students will be willing to come forward, if need be, where bullying is less likely, and where it can be addressed when it becomes a presence. Through a process of creating an anti-bullying school/classroom atmosphere and monitoring the student body to maintain that atmosphere, I hope to make bullying an issue that can be dealt with openly and swiftly.
Patchin, J.W., & Hinduja, S. (2010) Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem. Journal of School Health, 80, 614-621.
Wade, A., & Beran, T. (2011) Cyberbullying: The New Era of Bullying. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 26, 44-61.
Activity 5.3 Cyberbullying and Social Media