What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is any deliberate and repeated series of communications via electronic device, such as computers or cell phones, meant to cause harm towards an individual or group. It is often paired with in-person bullying and can be done through a variety of electronic media.
Schools can and should take a proactive role in stopping cyberbullying at their schools. Schools need good acceptable use policies that are comprehensive and cover cyberbullying and online harassment for students. Schools also need to be familiar with any state policies on how schools can handle cyberbullying at a school level. See resources for more on this.
School staff members need to be kept up to date on the newest cyber-issues and school policies about these issues. They should be able to understand the websites and online activities students are describing. Additionally, staff members at schools (especially counselors) should take a role in informing parents on issues surrounding cyberbullying and online behavior. There are many online resources regarding privacy issues on sites like Facebook that should be examined and utilized. Oftentimes students, especially in middle school and high school, know more about the Internet than their parents. Parents should at least be informed about keeping their students safe from online harassment and bullying so they can make an attempt at it.
Not just counselors, but teachers and administrators should be concerned with counseling students who have been engaged in cyberbullying on either end. Victims of cyberbullying will often show the same signs as victims of other types of bullying. These include: showing symptoms of depression, not attending school, being listless in class, avoiding certain people at school, and lashing out at others. These are just a few of many signs that a student is being cyberbullied. If a student reports to you that they are being bullied online or by another form of electronic communication, be sure to refer them to a school counselor (and if you are the counselor, work with them). If you are aware of a student that is a cyberbully, consult your district and state policies for actions you can take regarding this.
- Cyberbullying: What Counselors Need to Know by Sheri Bauman.
- This book, published by the American Counseling Association, was written for counselors and other professions in which cyberbullying is a relevant topic. Dr. Bauman is an internationally renowned researcher on cyberbullying and a member of the Fund for Civility, Respect, and Understanding’s Anti-Bullying Task Force.
- Confronting Cyber-Bullying: What Schools Need to Know to Control Misconduct and Avoid Legal Consequences by Shaheen Shariff
- An overview of cyberbullying from a legal perspective. Although it is a couple of years old and policies are ever-changing, it is still a legitimate resource for schools.
- Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying by Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
- A very interesting book for educators written by two renowned researchers on cyberbullying.
- Cyberbullying Prevention and Response: Expert Perspectives edited by Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
- This book is a collection of articles from researchers and practitioners from around the country about cyberbullying.
- Cyberbullying laws by state
- Connectsafely.org provides information to share with parents regarding Facebook privacy for teens.
- This article, written by Nancy Willard from the Center for Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet, has more detailed information on what schools can do about cyberbullying.
- Stopbullying.gov provides more information on what schools can do, as well as information for students and parents. This is the official government website on bullying.
- Cyberbullying Research Center official site. It has information for educators, parents, and teachers.
- This project on bullying was launched by an advanced journalism class at Michigan State University in January, 2012, the month after Michigan passed anti-bullying legislation. The class is developing this website and a book, to be published in April, 2012.