Today, the wonders of the internet are no surprise to anyone. Entrepreneurs have gotten an opportunity to run online businesses whereas, individuals can stay connected with friends and family members. But at the same time, the internet has opened doors to cyberbullying. People sitting behind their computer screens pass offensive and hateful comments without any fear of getting caught. Similarly, many children use the internet to bully classmates on their weight, race, appearance, etc.
Fortunately, educators have realized that cyberbullying has become one of the leading issues in schools. As students spend more time online, the number of cyberbullying incidents is also rising. Therefore, teachers and educators are making every possible effort to address this issue. Some have guided parents to monitor their child’s online activity, whereas others have introduced mentoring programs in schools. After all, educating students about the consequences of cyberbullying is crucial.
In addition, schools also have to develop policies against cyberbullying to hold students accountable for their actions. Apart from this, there is a myriad of ways to cater to this growing issue. Here we are highlighting five ways to prevent cyberbullying in schools.
1. Start a Mentoring Program
The first step to prevent cyberbullying in schools is to raise awareness about it. Instead of telling the consequences of bullying first, begin by explaining it. Many students will not be aware of it and will ask you; what is cyberbullying? For this, you can start mentoring programs because when students hear something coming from their role models, they are more likely to listen. Perhaps you could bring any social media influencers or a renowned celebrity to whom students look up to these days.
In addition, you can even introduce peer mentoring since it has been successful in reducing traditional bullying and interpersonal conflict. Young students get a chance to learn from the wisdom of adolescences who have experienced online aggression. In short, it would make students realize that it isn’t appreciated, preventing cyberbullying incidents.
2. Develop an Anti-Cyberbullying Curriculum
With increased access to gadgets and smartphones, every educational institute must establish firm policies regarding technology. Students should be aware of repercussions even before the problem; meaning, the schools, must create clear boundaries. Educators can make students aware of unacceptable behavior such as cyberbullying and verbal aggression and how it can lead to suspension.
Similarly, schools have to develop an anti-cyberbullying curriculum to hold students accountable for their actions. For instance, you can create a policy that if any student engages in cyberbullying, they will get suspended or terminated from school. Schools can even include legal implications of this behavior to keep students away from cyberbullying. It will cultivate a sense of fear among the bullies, making them think twice before targeting someone online.
3. Encourage Students to Report Abuse
Often, students getting bullied don’t like sharing the incidents with others, thinking they would look weak. Likewise, many believe parents and teachers will take away their gadgets if they report the abuse. To change this mindset, teachers have to develop trust with students. They have to let them know that technology isn’t the problem and give examples of cyberbullying situations getting resolved. It would help students break the silence against cyber abuse.
Moreover, teachers have to persuade students to take a stand against their bullies and build confidence. After all, staying quiet and ignoring the bullies doesn’t help anymore; instead, it gives them the ease of repeating the behavior. These few proactive steps can save many students from cyberbullying, allowing them to enjoy their life.
4. Practice Team-Building Exercises
Believe it or not, team building is a powerful way to make students work cohesively. So, why not bring some team-building exercises into the classroom? The objective of these activities would be to make the class work together towards a common goal. Students will look at each other’s strengths during the exercises, realizing that each person’s ability is different and necessary. Thus, anyone who bullies others because of their looks or race would see how capable the other person is, preventing bullying.
Apart from this, team-building activities also allow students to socialize with whom they don’t engage generally. It will help them bond with one another, reducing the likelihood of bullying.
5. Open Communication Lines
Sometimes, the students are willing to speak against the bullies, but they don’t know who and where to go. After all, most students are so scared that they cannot think logically. Hence, schools should make resources clear and available beforehand for every student. Perhaps, you can place an anonymous box on the front desk where students can drop their problems. Likewise, schools can establish a hotline or a local contact where students can report cases of cyberbullying.
Besides this, schools have to keep the communication lines open for students. If any student has a problem, they should have permission to reach out to the teachers and staff. Principals can even designate a few counselors or teachers for this purpose. Having transparency between students and teachers creates a trustful environment where students aren’t afraid of speaking up.
Undeniably, cyberbullying has become a growing issue today. Schools are trying to get parents involved in taking charge of their children’s online activities, but that’s not enough. They have to take proactive measures to prevent cyberbullying to ensure the internet is a safe learning place for every student. For that, educators can initiate mentor programs, devise anti-cyberbullying policies, and encourage students to stand up against the bully. Likewise, you have to create programs that allow students to socialize with each other more often.