Today is Pink Shirt / Bullying Awareness Day, and as part of Tech Week we will be focusing on Cyber Bullying.
With more and more of our communications coming from behind a screen, instead of face to face, we need to emphasize the issue of Cyber Bullying with our students. As much as some new teachers would like to say that they have a better idea of how to deal with Cyber Bullying it isn’t always true. Very few teachers have ever experienced Cyber Bullying as students, because it didn’t exist.
Although Instant Messaging (IM) services started in the late 90’s it was not the same as modern messaging avenues. Being constantly online is a luxury that only recently became common , and because of that these IM services were mainly used for quick communications and long distance talks, and were often disconnected midway.
Text-messaging officially started before these IM services, but was very expensive and limited. According to some research there were, on average, about half a text message per user sent each month . Today, a single person can easily send over 100 messages daily, with some teenagers sending 35 000 messages a month . Most teachers that are teaching today did not have cell phones until they were almost finished high school.
In terms of Facebook and Twitter, there is absolutely no comparison that can be made because these networks are still in their infancy.
So what does all of this mean? Simply, it means that teachers are doing their best to combat a situation that almost none of us have personal experience with. Yes, we have access to these technologies now, but we are approaching the subject as adults, with an adult mindset and knowledge base. Even though this may be the case we still need to help each other understand the situation, and we need to make sure that our students know that they have someone to talk to at all times.
Here are some videos to help with that:
A bit of a different take on the subject, maybe for older kids only, but this does a great job to show that Cyber Bullying is something that ‘spreads’
A very good introduction and discussion on the subject.
A great video that will give students a few ways to deal with Cyber Bullying on their own.
A short, fun, video that can be used with any grade (younger grades would have to have the teacher reading the prompts)
What we have to remember here is that the traditional ‘Bullying Triangle’ of Victim, Bully and Bystander(s) is a bit more difficult to understand for our students when it comes to Cyber Bullying. Many of the students will feel that they were not involved in the situation if they just read a message from a Bully, but this is, in fact, the same as witnessing a situation in the real world. Students may say that they didn’t ‘like’ or ‘share’ any of the negative comments, meaning that they did nothing wrong. We need to emphasize that the student needs to take a side. If the student doesn’t ‘like’ or ‘share’ the negative messages that isn’t enough, they need to ‘Stand Up’ for their friends.
We need to make sure our students always feel safe in our schools and classrooms. With the ever increasing saturation of technology Cyber Bullying is now a major issue for every teacher, and I hope that these videos could help in some way. Just remember to emphasize that ANYTHING that is posted online, even once, is there forever. If you don’t want something on the internet, a picture, video, or even a message, DO NOT POST IT!