Monday, November 14, 2011


Cyberbullying is "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phone, and other electronic devices" (Hinduja). In other words, for some bullying no longer stops when you leave the school grounds, it's no longer enough to get inside your own home, now bullies can follow you basically wherever you go. They are on your facebook page, they are texting your phone, it seems like they are everywhere. 

So what can you do? 

As part of our reading for class this week we read about several strategies. Both parents and teachers need to stay alert, know what technologies, website and platforms the kids/students are using. A lot of it seemed to boil down to making yourself visible and available if someone needs help. Another aspect of dealing with cyberbullying revolved around education. Make sure everyone knows what the signs are and what to do if something is going on. This can be based on the schools anti-bullying rules, which should also include cyberbullying. We also need to make sure the students know how to behave online. They should understand how public spaces online work, how discussion boards and social networking sites function. They need to be taught how to keep their information private and how to keep themselves protected from potential bullying. It will serve the students in the long run if we teach them to be responsible users of the internet and all it has to offer.  

For me the biggest piece of the puzzle with not only cyberbullying, but bullying in general is that there needs to be swift and consistent consequences. There should be no grey area. If you are bullying someone, physically or emotionally, in person or in cyberspace, there needs to be consequences. The consequences need to be clearly outlined in the student handbooks and students need to be reminded of them at the start of the year, and maybe a few more times along the way. Parents need to be informed of what the procedures are in cases of bullying. If a student is being bullied then there needs to be a procedure that everyone follows. A person they can turn to and trust that they will be taken seriously, a plan of action to investigate any claims in a timely manner, a consistent set of punishments that will be handed down to anyone who is doing the bullying. One thing I've found is that there is a huge lack of respect from many children. They don't respect each other and they don't respect the teachers. This obviously doesn't apply to every kid at every school, but it is an observation I've made at several schools I've visited. They do not fear that there will be consequences for their actions and therefore are not afraid to act, this makes it easy or the bully to do so. The victims have the same feeling, that there will not be consequences, so what is to be gained from seeking help? All it serves to do  is to tick the bully off more. By having a clear and consistent plan of action, by being visible and available, by responding quickly and fairly you can create an environment where your students know that they are heard and that they will be protected. They also will know that bullying of any sort will not be tolerated. 

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2007).   Offline consequences of online victimization: School violence and delinquency.  Journal of School Violence, 6(3), 89­112.


  1. I think you are right when you mention that the victim often believes there will be no (I think you meant to say no) consequences of an incident. That is sad. I also found that lack of respect was frequently mentioned by school librarians participating in a survey I conducted about dispositions for learning.

  2. I did mean no! I switched around my sentences a few times and missed that one when reviewing it! I've been at some really great schools and some that were struggling, and a lack of respect and lack of consequences seems to be a repeating theme. The thing is that we can't demand that they respect us. It's a two way street- we have to earn their respect and I do think that being consistent and fair with the students across the board goes a long way to doing that. We don't have to be tyrants, but they do need to know that as teachers we are in charge and that rules are expected to be followed. And then we have to follow through on that.

  3. Modeling "respect" is essential. And like you say, that means being fair and consistent, and also being sensitive to individual differences, too.

  4. I went to a high school assembly this past Monday (talked about it on the DB) regarding bullying and afterwards the Special Education teacher told me about a student who was being bullied and ended up committing suicide by hanging himself. The next day, the group of students who had been bullying that individual came to school with nooses tied around their necks in a continued effort to "make fun" of what just occurred. The community was a bit "up-tight," the parents of those students had lawyers to back up whatever rights they were claiming, and the school could do nothing about it (i.e. the school could not force the students to not wear the nooses and could not discipline them in any fashion). Students aside, it kind of makes you wonder about the parents of those kids ...

  5. That's absolutely horrible Amanda! I cannot believe parents would even ALLOW such disrespect! Do they want their kids to grow up as jerks? I am so sad to hear that.

  6. I don't understand the reasons that the students wearing the nooses couldn't be disciplined. Was it considered a free speech issue? It's a bit appalling.

    Kate - the respect thing is a big one. I like the way you connected consequences to respect. Accountability and respect do seem to go hand in hand.