With technology use increasing more and more in younger and younger children, it is essential that we be aware of the dangers that children can find themselves in such as cyberbullying. If we know the facts and how to stop it from happening, we can make their lives a little easier and spread a little more kindness throughout the school.
Step 1: Be Aware of Students' Actions and Reactions
When teachers, principals, and other staff are actively watching what is going on between their students, they will be able to pick up on signs that a student is not being treated kindly or with respect. The problems will be known by the educators and they can do their best to stop the problem before it gets out of hand. If a teacher is unaware of the activities going on in their classrooms, they are less likely to catch something going on outside of school. Another benefit of this is teachers know when it is appropriate to educate the students on the cause and effects of bullying in person or online.
Step 2: Make Sure Parents Are Involved
Even though it is difficult to keep busy parents involved completely in their children's lives, it is important that they know enough of what they are doing in school and outside of school. Teachers can include the parents by sending them updates on schoolwork and information on important issues (like cyberbullying). If teachers are reminding students of the repercussions of cyberbullying and the same information is being reiterated at home, then they are more likely to avoid doing things online that they will regret. Parents can have a huge impact on the behavior of the child in and outside of school, and if they are engaged in their child's life, they can have such a positive impact and keep their kids from misbehaving online.
Step 3: Create a Safe Environment
This is something all educators should be implementing in their classroom, but they can also gear it towards a safe spot that students can talk about issues that are going on at home or online. When teachers give their students a sense of comfort and trust, they are more likely to come to them with problems they are having to look for a way to fix it. Teachers can do this by letting their students know that they keep their words confidential and they can trust them with their problems. When they sit down and talk to their teachers, they are able to work together to find a solution before something gets out of hand.
Step 4: Set Rules and Consequences in School
Students are more likely to behave when there is a clear set of rules and consequences for when the rules are broken. Sometimes schools are unable to get involved with cyberbullying because it is an issue outside of school and due to free speech rights, however, they can set regulations in advance with expectations of their students and punishments when those expectations are not held. Administration should do their best to communicate to the student body the seriousness of actions online. They must be informed that their actions online are no different than if they were in person and are taken very seriously. A strong set of rules will get this point across to students.
Step 5: Address Situation and Create Community
The school is a place for young people to learn, play, communicate, build relationships, etc. Cyberbullying is something that should be addressed before there is an incident in the school. Teachers and administration should be stepping up and speaking to the students about effects of their actions online. Students should be kind to one another, and even though not every student in a school will be friends, they all deserve to be treated with respect. They must think of one another as equals and work to maintain good relationships with their peers.