cyberbullying in schoolsAlthough most incidents of cyberbullying originate outside of school hours, schools are nonetheless feeling its effects. Often school staff members have to deal with student distress, anger, and conflict that accompany cyberbullying situations. Moreover, schools are facing an increasing number of cyberbullying problems that take place in school. Whether the cyberbullying happens in school or at home, it’s a problem that schools must confront.

The following are some steps that schools can take to prevent cyberbullying. (Parents are strongly encouraged to work with their children’s schools to combat this pervasive bullying threat together.)

  • Create a cyberbullying policy. The school bullying policy should be expanded to include cyberbullying. 
  • Survey students and school staff about cyberbullying. This may provide school officials with useful information about the nature and frequency of cyberbullying. It is important that parents are informed of this survey and have the right to withdraw their child from the survey. 
  • Discuss cyberbullying with school staff. Schools might offer workshops to school staff on this topic. 
  • Educate students about cyberbullying. Make sure the discussion touches on the following points:
    • The pain of being cyberbullied. 
    • Appropriate and inappropriate use of technology. 
    • The rules regarding the use of technology in school and the school’s disciplinary approach to cyberbullying. 
    • The need for students to seek help from an adult if they are being cyberbullied. 
    • The need for students who witness cyberbullying to stop the incident, support the victim or inform an adult. 
    • How Internet and cell phone communications leave “electronic footprints” that may allow cyberbullies to be identified.

More on what schools can do to combat cyberbullying—>

  • Present a formal cyberbullying curriculum. This program can provide students with the skills to use technology responsibly and teach them how to respond to cyberbullying incidents. 
  • Use peer mentoring. Older students might talk with younger students about appropriate and inappropriate ways of using the Internet.  
  • Post information about cyberbullying. Signs can be posted in the computer rooms, the library, hallways, classrooms and the guidance office. Schools might also put a list of rules for technology usage next to school computers.
  • Arrange for law enforcement officials to talk with students. This presentation will help students appreciate the potential seriousness of cyberbullying and understand that Internet communications leave a digital “fingerprint” that can be used to trace their communications. 
  • Educate parents. Schools might provide a presentation and distribute materials to parents on what they can do to help their children use the Internet and cell phones in a safe and responsible manner.

More on Cyberbullying:

Dr. Shore, a psychologist, teaches part-time at Rutgers. He has authored six books and created a film series on bullying. Visit his website or email him.

What else can and should schools do to prevent cyberbullying?