Technology has enabled students to have access to make comments or post pictures within seconds to potentially reach thousands of people, anywhere at anytime (ikeepSafe, 2012). The negative and hurtful comments that others make online is referred to as cyber-bullying (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015). This is a major issue that affects the majority of school-aged students. It is reported that as many as 42% of students claim in some form to have been bullied online (Strutt Central, 2012). It is difficult to accurately measure the number of affected victims, but it can be agreed that the consequences can be detrimental to student’s well-being. Cyber-bullying can alter one’s mood to anger, increase insecurity, lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. We need to teach students that anything posted online can be permanent and how to responsibly confront cyber-bullying. As educators, we can take steps to limit cyber-bullying and encourage healthy online interactions. One way, educators can be proactive is to develop guidelines and consequences. Schools need to develop strong anti-bullying rules and enforce these rules to develop a safe learning environment (Essex, 2016). Schools need to be consistent with these policies, and any form of bullying is to not be tolerated. To keep these policies effective all members of the school and community need to be involved in addressing these behaviors and reporting any incidences. Schools need to keep policies up to date in regards to technology and revisit the policies often (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015). If everyone can come together as one unit, teaching students that bullying of any type will not be tolerated, the community can create a safe environment for students to thrive. Educators need to explain to students what cyber-bullying is and what it is not and long-term negative effects on the victim. Cyberbullying is a recurrent, willful behavior intended to cause harm using any online device (Hinduja & Patchin, 2015). Victims of cyberbullying are much more likely to experience anger, self-pity, and depression. These negative moods can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and suicide attempt. Students need to understand that any form of bullying is not a joke, or funny, but can result in long-term effects, destroying another persons life. If schools can provide relatable stories to students, and encourage students to think before they post, they will have a better understanding of lasting consequences and work to stop negative online behaviors. Another way to prevent or reduce cyber-bullying is through teaching empathy. Students that lack empathy are much more likely to engage in frequent or severe bullying (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015). Students can be taught how to relate to others and understand how their behavior affects others. When students can understand the importance of kindness and how others are affected by their behavior they are much more likely to stand up or reach out for additional help (iKeepSafe, 2012). Empathy is something that can be taught and can help foster healthy relationships (Bora, 2016). When students learn how to treat others with kindness instead of participating in narcissistic behaviors, negative online behaviors decreases. In conclusion, there are many ways that parents and schools can work together to reduce cyber-bullying. Schools must provide an environment for students to learn and feel safe. For schools to effectively reduce or eliminate bullying schools must be proactive and set behavior expectations for students. Schools need to define cyber-bullying for students, teach them empathy and set strong anti-bullying policies for students to follow. If schools can follow these guidelines, students will learn how to cultivate healthy online relationships and provide a safe environment for students to thrive.
Brewer, G. K. (2015, February 19). www.elsevier.com. Retrieved from University of Central Lancashire: https://luonline.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-3043176-dt-content-rid- 30105217_1/courses/13585.201810/Brewer_Cyberbullying_Self-esteem_Empathy_Loneliness.pdf Essex, N. L. (2016). School law and the public school: A practical guide for educational leaders. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. (Section Bullying, pp. 107-110). Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin iKeepSafe. (2012, February 29). Generation Safe. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekWgOie6evU Strutt Central. (2012, March 22). The Cyber Bullying Virus. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5PZ_Bh-M6o
Are smart phones making our children mentally ill?: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/11486167/Are-smartphones-making-our-children-mentally-ill.html Bullying & Substance Abuse: https://www.drugrehab.com/guides/bullying/ Bullying Checklist from Texas Dept. of Education: https://locker.txssc.txstate.edu/3942be0c6bbe569ed1417377e6c1d2a9/Bullying-Checklist-Full-Color.pdf Bullying Video from Texas Dept. of Education: https://txssc.txstate.edu/videos/bullying-and-the-law/ How Evil is Tech: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/opinion/how-evil-is-tech.html