According to the National Crime Prevention Council, around 43 percent of children and teens reported being a victim of cyber bullying in 2011. A problem affecting so many students needs to be taken seriously. Cyber bullies have chosen technology as their weapon of choice, but you can turn their weapon against them and use technology to stop the bullying.
Educate Your Students
The Internet is full of resources to educate your students about bullying: the signs, the consequences and ways to prevent it. Introduce your students to resources such as stopbullying.gov, Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying, Speak Up Campaign and @StopBullying on Twitter. Resources like these help your students see standing up against bullying, not being a bully, as the cool thing to do.
Teach your students how to avoid becoming a victim of cyber bullying by only adding trusted friends to social networking sites and not sharing extremely personal information online, blocking anyone who attempts to bully them and refusing to continue the trend by passing along instances of bullying.
When it comes to tackling cyber bullying, children and teens need support. Be aware of what’s going on with your students while they’re online. Avoid using programs which allow students to message each other directly without teacher approval. If a program allows students to comment on each other’s blogs or other creations, monitor the comments. When students know you are watching, bullying is less likely to take place.
Encourage parents to monitor their children’s use of technology as well. Send out a list of tips at the beginning of the school year and include items such as restricting computer use to public places in the home or spontaneously checking sent and received text messages. This doesn’t mean a parent has to see every e-mail or text message, but sometimes keeping children and teens safe is more important than giving up a bit of privacy.
Offer Tools to Fight Back
As more students are affected by cyber bullying, multiple companies are introducing technology-based tools to combat it. Facebook offers tools and suggestions for teens who experience bullying and harassment on the social networking site. Systems such as the CyberBully Hotline, Sprigeo, uTip Bully Buster and Bullnix give schools a way for students to anonymously report bullying to school officials.