The use of the Internet among young people has grown every year due to the increase in the number of homes’ that have Internet access and the development of engaging online applications, such as social media websites. Among all eight to eighteen year olds, homes with Internet access increased from 74 percent in 2004 to 84 percent in 2009 (Rideout). 96 percent of students who have Internet access were found to be using social networking technologies (“The Use of Social Media in School”). With the increase in the use of the Internet and social media technologies, a new type of bullying has emerged called cyberbullying. 17 percent of students reported that they were victims of cyberbullying in 2013 (“Technology, Teen Dating Violence and Abuse, and Bullying”). This intervention plan was developed to provide teachers, parents, and students with:
- an overview of cyberbullying.
- a cyberbullying prevention plan.
- a procedure for reporting cyberbullying.
- an example cyberbullying lesson plan.
- online cyberbullying resources.
The ultimate goal of this plan is to prevent cyberbullying and decrease the amount of cyberbullying incidents in schools.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to carry out hostile and abusive behaviours towards another individual. These behaviors can focus on an individual’s gender, religion, sexuality, appearance, or race. Cyberbullying can occur through communication tools, such as social media sites and messaging platforms. What makes cyberbullying contrastingly different from bullying is that victims can be harmed at any moment, even when they are alone. Examples of cyberbullying includes defaming victims with humiliating pictures and videos on social media sites, sending threatening text messages, spreading rumors of a person via email, creating a website to ridicule a person, and impersonating individuals with fake profiles.
Parent Technology Program
Parental involvement can be a crucial component in a cyberbullying prevention initiative. One way parents can help is being aware of what their children are doing online (“Prevent Cyberbullying”). This includes knowing what sites their children visit, how to use these sites, and what types of online activities they take part in. However, many parents are not capable of observing their children’s online activities. For this reason, schools should provide parents with a program that will teach them these important skills. This program, led by a qualified instructor (ex. ICT teacher), can educate parents in operating their child’s communication devices, monitoring their online activities, having discussions on online issues, and setting up boundaries and rules for technology use. These rules involve what sites their children are allowed to visit, what they can post or publish, and keeping their passwords secure from strangers and friends.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Class
Another possible method for cyberbullying prevention is providing students with an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) class that includes lessons and units on cyberbullying. This class can educate students on how to operate online technologies safely and securely, use effective strategies that reduce the chances for cyberbullying, and how to report cyberbullying. For example, students would learn that they should not respond to an harmful emails, messages or comments, block any communications with the cyberbully, document the abusive messages, and contact an adult (“Cyberbullying”). They would learn to protect their passwords, think before they post, strengthen privacy settings, log out of their accounts, delete messages from unknown individuals, and practice proper netiquette (“Prevent Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens”). An ICT class also promotes discussion among students on the topic of cyberbullying. Building a shared understanding around the issue of cyberbullying can be the basis of all prevention initiatives. Educating students with these skills will create a safe online culture where students can learn and socialize without the fear of cyberbullying.
Establishing School Technology Rules and Policy
All schools should develop and implement their own Appropriate Use Policy (AUP). This specialized policy contains a set of rules that regulates how technology is used at school and advocates for effective, safe and responsible technology practices. Students should be required to sign a contract agreeing to school’s AUP in order to use technology at the school (“Why Have a Technology Policy in Your School or Library?”). The AUP should include an explanation of what cyberbullying is so that there is a school-wide understanding of the concept. It should also list technology rules that help prevent cyberbullying and make it easier for students to respond and report cyberbullying incidents. Last, the AUP should describe the consequences of students violating the cyberbullying policy.
Response to Cyberbullying
According to Digizen.org, a website dedicated to the development of responsible digital citizens, the response to cyberbullying involves the support of the victim who was bullied, an investigation into the cyberbullying claim, intervention for the bully, and the issuing of disciplinary actions.
The support for the person being bullied involves:
- letting the victim know that he or she did the right thing by reporting the cyberbullying incident.
- providing a school culture that has a zero-tolerance policy for cyberbullying.
- providing online safety strategies and advice.
- containing the cyberbullying situation by (1) identifying the culprit and taking down the hurtful content, (2) contacting the online host and have the content removed, (3) having the culprit delete the content on their device, and/or (4) contacting the police if illegal content is involved.
- blocking the cyberbully and enable comment-moderating feature on social media sites.
The investigation into the cyberbullying claim involves:
- the collection of all harmful content sent or posted by the cyberbully (messages, videos, images, etc.).
- identifying the cyberbully.
- finding out whether the cyberbullying act is a criminal offence.
The intervention for the cyberbully and the issuing of disciplinary actions involves:
- providing services that will help cyberbullies alter their attitudes and behaviors.
- determining whether or not the cyberbullying incident might have been a misunderstanding.
- determining if the cyberbullying incident was retaliation for a previous act.
- making the victim feel safe and believe that they will no longer be cyberbullied by the culprit.
- showing students that the school has a strong and effective zero-tolerance policy for cyberbullying.
- applying sanctions that are listed in the school’s AUP for the breach of contract.
Cyberbullying Lesson Plan
Here is an example of a 1st grade Cyberbullying unit:
|Unit Summary||The goal of this unit is to inform students about online safety issues, specifically online safety and cyberbullying. Students will learn strategies that will empower them to be safe online. It is crucial to prevent dangers and to protect children in an online setting. Students will create digital comics based on these online safety topics.|
|Understanding(s)||Students will understand
|Technology Standards||I. Creativity and Innovation
1. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
2. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
II. Communication and Collaboration
2. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
V. Digital Citizenship
1. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
2. exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
3. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
4. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.
VI. Technology Operations and Concepts
1. understand and use technology systems.
2. select and use applications effectively and productively.
4. transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.
|Knowledge||Students will know…
*from iTunes app description
|Skills||Students will be able to…
|Performance Task (GRASP)||
- Digizen.org: Site devoted to helping children, young people and adults recognize, prevent and respond to online challenges.
- Learninglab.org: Provides videos of Professor Garfield teaching different life skills.
- Cyber(Smart): National cybersafety education program created by the Australian Communications and Media Authority
- BrainPop: Cyberbullying: Animated video that explains cyberbullying
- National Crime Prevention Council: Nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people to create safer communities.
- Cyberbullying Research Center: Site provides information on cyberbullying important to adolescents.
- Stopbulllying.gov: Site provides information on cyberbullying, including prevention and response.
“Cyberbullying.” National Crime Prevention Council. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://www.ncpc.org/topics/cyberbullying>.
“Making Reporting Cyberbullying Easier.” Digizen. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://old.digizen.org/cyberbullying/fullguidance/preventing/reporting.aspx>.
“Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- To 18-Year-Olds.” Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Web. 10 June 2014. <http://kff.org/other/report/generation-m2-media-in-the-lives-of-8-to-18-year-olds/>.
“Prevent Cyberbullying.” Stopbullying. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/prevention/index.html>.
“Prevent Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens.” Cyberbullying.us. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.cyberbullying.us/Top_Ten_Tips_Teens_Prevention.pdf>.
“Technology, Teen Dating Violence and Abuse, and Bullying.” Technology, Teen Dating Violence and Abuse, and Bullying. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.urban.org/publications/412891.html>.
“The Use of Social Media in School.” Best Masters in Education. Web. 13 June 2014. <http://www.bestmastersineducation.com/social-media/>.
“Why Have a Technology Policy in Your School or Library?” Scholastic. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/tech/techpolicy.htm>.