Friday, August 5, 2016

How Should Schools Combat Cyberbullying?

According to a study of cyberbullying in 2014 from, 52% of reporters say they have been cyberbullied, of those- 33% report the bully threatened. A little over half of those reported that they see bullying on social media, and a whopping 95% ignore the behavior (Cyberbullying Statistics). 

We have a problem that most of us really aren't aware of. Cyberbullying is a silent problem that many of our students are aware of, and some could even be dealing with on a daily basis. According to Hinduja and Patchin (2015) in their book, Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, cyberbullying is a “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (p. 11). Simply put, it is a form of bullying in the digital world. Oftentimes the bullying is done by young people that would not typically engage in bullying in the real world and is sometimes anonymous to distance the bully from the victim (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015, p. 2). Forms of cyberbullying come in the following: flaming, harassment, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, exclusion, and cyberstalking (Siegle, 2010, p. 2). Those that are affected by cyberbullying could be any student and often the perpetrator are those that have low self-esteem and empathy (Brewer & Kerslake, p. 4).

Students do not often see cyberbully for what it is, but rather, they call it “drama,” which is a “protective mechanism to save face” (iKeepSafe, 2012).
In a way, students feel they are joking around and not participating in cyberbullying. The consequences from this “drama” can be difficult to deal with. Some short term consequences are depression and anxiety (Brewer & Kerslake, 2015, p. 1), while some cyberbullying episodes end in suicide (Essex, 2016, p. 110).

As institutions, it’s important for schools to infuse anti-cyberbullying and digital etiquette into curricula as well as adopting very clear policies on the matter (Ansary & et al, 2015, p. 2-3). These policies can help guide the actions that administrators and teachers take to support students in cyberbullying situations. It’s important for schools to tie in already existing school initiatives that support a positive culture for students (iKeepSafe, 2012). For example, the school I teach at is an IB school. We have “approaches to learning” and the “IB Learner Profile” that would easily support an anti-cyberbullying campaign. In addition, it is important for schools to provide a positive climate, as this is the most effective change agent for cyberbullying problems (Ansary & et al, 2015, p. 3). An easy way to positively influence students, I have found, is to use my “teacher” Instagram and Twitter accounts to be a positive influence on students and teachers that I follow. Teachers forming relationships with their students and even finding ways to be positive on social media via the school or teacher accounts a help to shape the culture of the school.

We have a huge opportunity to engage our students in a positive culture on campus, and online. Lecturing students about NOT bullying each other and "being nice" just doesn't speak their language. Getting them involved in positive campaigns and changing the culture themselves is more impactful than teachers and administrators doing it. Our job is to be the foundation they can rely on when they are in trouble, and to support and guide them as they help shape the culture of the real and digital landscape of their personal and educational lives. 


Ansary, N. S., Elias, M. J., Greene, M. B., & Green, S. (2015). Best practices to address or reduce bullying in schools. Kappan, 97(2), 30-35. Ansary_Elias_Greene_Green_Bullying.pdf

Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 255-260. Brewer_Cyberbullying_Self-esteem_Empathy_Loneliness.pdf

Cyberbullying Statistics. (2014). Retrieved from

Essex, N. L. (2016). School law and the public school: A practical guide for educational leaders. (6th ed.) (pp. 107-110). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.  Essex_Bullying.pdf

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 Quick Tips, Episode 4 -Digital Drama, Guidelines for Teachers [Video file]. Retrieved from

Siegle, D.(2010). Cyberbullying and sexting: Technology abuses of the 21st century. Gifted Child Today, 32(2), 14-16, 65. Siegle_Cyberbullying_and_Sexting.pdf

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