While we have made many positive strides towards recognizing cyberbullying as a real and serious problem for students, cyberbullying is still prevalent in our schools — one in five tweens (9-12 years old) report being cyberbullied, have cyberbullied others, or has witnessed cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can also be harder to detect than what we normally associate with bullying behavior. Rather than getting pushed around on the playground or having their belongings stolen, students now must deal with harmful posts and threats online, which, due to the public and permanent nature of the internet, can be just as damaging and insidious as the bullying we are more familiar with.  

Important Cyberbullying Statistics 

  • 70% increase in hate between kids and teens during online chats¹  
  • Only 1 in 10 teens tell a parent if they have been a cyberbullying victim²  
  • 64% of students who experienced cyberbullying stated that it really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school³  

Issues Kids Feel Result from Cyberbullying

7 Ways to Reduce Cyberbullying in Schools 

1. Define Cyberbullying

Giving students a definition of cyberbullying (with examples) can help them understand and identify cyberbullying. 

What is cyberbullying? 

Cyberbullying typically occurs over a digital device or app, such as social media, a game, or texting. Some cyberbullying tactics include mean or hurtful webpages, comments, videos, or pictures and spreading rumors online. 

2. Get parents involved

How many times have we heard of a child helping their parents navigate technology? Students nowadays are living in a very different world than the one their parents grew up in. Educating parents on what cyberbullying is and the signs of cyberbullying is key towards reducing cyberbullying in schools. Encouraging open communication between parents and their children, teaching them how to use social media, and suggesting they monitor their child’s phone are additional methods parents can use for catching cyberbullying.  

3. Create a bullying prevention program 

Prevention programs reduce bullying by helping change the climate and culture of the school and tending to the social and emotional needs of the students. The International Bullying Association provides a list of recommended bullying programs and what to look for when choosing a bullying program for your school.  

4. Participate in awareness days to bring attention to cyberbullying 

In addition to teaching students about bullying and helping out in a bullying situation when you see it, there are particular activities associated with these awareness days that can help drive even more attention and conversation around this important topic. Learn more about these awareness days so you can educate your school and community to help them participate. 

What is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month? 

Celebrate October by wearing orange for Unity Day (the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month). Fill your classroom with posters, and learn how to update your lesson plan and get free activity kits to help educate your students here. 

October is also World Bullying Prevention Month, an initiative created by STOMP Out Bullying. Check out their guide for a list of ideas on how to celebrate, register your school, and order a blue shirt. 

What is Pink Shirt Day? 

Pink Shirt Day, also known as Pink Day, started at a school in Nova Scotia in 2007, when two students saw a boy getting bullied for wearing a pink shirt, which the bullies considered was too feminine a color for the boy to be wearing. To support the bullied student, the students bought pink shirts for their entire school, and the initiative has been growing ever since. Pink Shirt Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of February and on May 4. 

Celebrate by throwing a Pink Day party and wearing pink (and don’t forget to take a selfie to share on social media to help spread the word)! 

5. Recognize Cyberbullying 

Helping students recognize, respond, and report cyberbullying is crucial, and is one of the three R’s to reduce bullying 

Educators can help recognize cyberbullying by educating themselves on bullying and the effects it has on students and can help students recognize cyberbullying by encouraging them to participate in awareness days. 

6. Refuse to be a Bystander and Respond to Cyberbullying 

Bystanders play a huge role in helping end cyberbullying. Unfortunately, it can feel difficult to intervene when witnessing cyberbullying — research has shown that the more people witness something occurring (both digitally or otherwise), the less likely one of them is to intervene — what is known as the bystander effect.  Educators and students alike must respond to cyberbullying when they see it — questioning the behavior they witness, using humor to redirect the conversation, and reaching out privately to show the victim that they care are just some of the methods bystanders can use to stop cyberbullying. 

7. Report Cyberbullying 

It’s important that students feel they can come forward to educators and parents if they are a victim or witness cyberbullying — often, they will not want to. Cyberbullying violates the terms of service associated with the apps a child may be using, so parents and educators can check to see whether they can help the children in their care by either blocking the bully, or reporting a problematic player in a game. The same can be done for a phone number that needs to be blocked through their mobile service provider.  

If the cyberbullying involves criminal activities (which, depending on your location, may include child pornography, hate crimes, or violent threats), then it becomes necessary to report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. 

Netsweeper is committed to providing educators with the technology tools to protect students from harmful online content and gain insight to online behavior that could potentially signal at-risk conditions. nMonitor, part of the Netsweeper Education Platform, scans content on students’ connected devices, looking for words and phrases that could indicate issues relating to depression, suicide, cyberbullying and more and alerts administrators with the information they need to take appropriate action.  

Additional Cyberbullying Resources 

Children and Mental Health – The Growing Challenge 

Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Students 

Add Bullying Blocking to Your Back-to-School Checklist: A Refresher on Bullying from Dare to Care 

Cyberbullying: The Effects of Online Harms 

Information and Resources to Curb the Growing Problem of Cyberbullying: Interview with James Ryan from BullyingCanada 

References 

  1. L1ght. ‘Rising Levels of Hate Speech & online Toxicity During This Time of Crisis Report’ (April 2020) 
  2. Richard Webster, Harford County Examiner. ‘From Cyberbullying to Sexting: What on your Kids’ cell?” 
  3. Cyberbullying Research Center. ‘New National Bullying and Cyberbullying Data.’ 
  4. BroadbandSearch. ‘Issues Kids Feel Result from Cyberbullying’ (2021)