Cyberbullying is a complicated issue. While most schools, parents and teens agree that it’s a problem, it’s not as clear how it should be dealt with. Is it the responsibility of students, parents, schools or social media websites? How can different groups work together to overcome it? What methods are being used to prevent and deal with cyberbullying?
We’re going to examine this issue in a few different posts over the next week. In this first post, we’ll talk about how students are responding. But before we get started, it’s important to realize some things about cyberbullying:
- It’s common – 55 percent of teens witness it frequently, 33 percent have been victims
- It’s a group activity – 66 percent of teens who’ve witnessed online bullying have seen others join in (21 percent say they’ve also taken part)
- It’s easy to get away with – 81 percent think that they aren’t as likely to get in trouble if they bully online
- It’s often ignored – 90 percent of teens say they’ve ignored mean behavior
The good news is that a lot of teenagers (68 percent) – the group at highest risk for cyberbullying – agree that it is a problem. But the data indicates that they don’t really know how to deal with it. A lot of kids ignore cyberbullying when they see it, many don’t report it and some actively defend the person being bullied. So how do we teach kids, spread awareness and get more of them to protest this kind of behavior rather than getting involved in it?
Cyberbullying awareness campaign
One group of students in Ireland has rolled out an awareness campaign by publishing guidelines about how to deal with cyberbullying. Their recommendations are as follows:
- Be conscientious about what you post online. This includes any and all online activity: Comments, photos, emails, blog posts or other content about both yourself and other people. “Think about the lasting effect it can have on others,” advised the guide, and then decide whether you should post the material.
- If you are being cyberbullied, block the person on the social media site (if you can). You should also tell someone about the problem and report the person to the networking website. If there is content posted on a site that can’t be removed by the victim – or that the bully refuses to take down – then the victim or their parent should contact the web administrator directly.
- If you see cyberbullying, don’t ignore it. Talk to the person being bullied – or doing the bullying – directly, report it to a parent or adult or stand up to the bully. Ignoring cyberbullying when you see it makes the bully feel like they can get away with what he or she is doing. Don’t respond in kind by taunting or making fun of the aggressor, but be firm about saying that bullying is wrong.
- Document any problems, collect evidence of cyberbullying and share that with parents, school or social networking sites. In case the incident is part of an ongoing problem, this will help students show the entire history of the issue.
This kind of awareness campaign will definitely help to address part of the problem. But we’ll talk about other ways cyberbullying could be dealt with in our next post about the topic.
What do you think students could do to help prevent cyberbullying from occurring to themselves or others? Please share your thoughts below or comment on our Facebook page!