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June 8, 2021

How to Prevent Cyberbullying in Your Classroom

To be sure, bullying has evolved and continues to be a challenge in all schools:  

  • 49.8% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) said they experienced bullying at school and 14.5% of tweens shared they experienced bullying online. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2020)  
  • One in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence. (UNICEF and United Nations) 

But even with the negative statistics, there’s hope:  

  • 2/3 of tweens are also willing to step in to defend, support, or assist those being bullied at school and online when they see it. 

Schools and educators can address bullying regularly through school climate, social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction, and classroom community, but why not also empower students to be experts, policymakers, and agents of positive change? Check out the following tips to boost anti-bullying practices:

1. Create strong digital citizens.*  

Students must be fully engaged digital citizens to navigate all the facets of online etiquette, safety, and respectful digital practices. This includes special attention to how we treat one another online. Digital citizenship has increased in importance during distance learning, too.

2. Educate yourself.  

Set aside time each week to educate yourself about your students’ culture and favorite sites. Understanding what your students are using (or misusing) will help you broach the topic in class with confidence.

3. Make bullying part of the conversation. 

Use bullying as a touchpoint in your classroom to both remind and discourage. Explore issues like technology risks, online safety, and positive online etiquette. Lead students through role-playing scenarios to increase awareness and provide support when bullying issues arise. 

4. Teach students it’s okay to report abuse

Sometimes it’s scary to share what’s going on, for a variety of reasons. Every student should know how to report bullying, and be encouraged to report instances or evidence of cyberbullying to a teacher, counselor, or another trusted adult. Schools can set up an anonymous reporting system, like Safe2Tell, so students can inform school officials without fear of repercussion.  

5. Encourage Active Student Participation in Decision Making.  

The best ideas for addressing bullying should come from students, as they are the center of the school community. Empowering students to create policy, identify inappropriate online use, and learn how to be upstanders.   

Working with students as experts of bullying prevention can make initiatives stick, but adults in the school can help focus the ideas. All members of the school community have the power to advocate for bullying victims we can make school a safe, positive, and bully-free place to be. 

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