In light of the outbreak of cyberbullying instances across the country, Gaggle invites you and your school to take the Gaggle Online Safety Pledge. Cyberbullying is an occurrence that should be taken very seriously. It shouldn’t be brushed off as traditional bullying and child’s play because children and teens are being adversely affected by bullying that happens on the web.
A Grave Offense
Simply perusing the stories about cyberbullying cases is heart breaking. In many instances these children have not even developed their own sense of self or identity, so the malicious messages they receive from their peers have a significant impact on their self esteem.
Sites like Ask.fm that allow users to share comments anonymously are empowering teens to say things to each other that they might not normally say in face-to-face confrontations. More and more users are telling other users that they are worthless and encouraging them to commit suicide, and what’s worse is that teens are being convinced to commit suicide, ending their lives prematurely solely based on comments and messages from their peers on the web.
Don’t Be a Bystander
While you may not be able to fully control cyberbullying or the disheartening effects, as school faculty you are able to take a stance to help reduce it. Encourage your students to take a stand against cyberbullying. Just because they aren’t the bully does not mean they don’t have a role in the harm being done to other students. Empower your students to report cyberbullying when they receive messages instead of joining in the charade and forwarding the messages on. Help them understand the results of cyberbullying so they are sensitive to the victims. Reward students who take the pledge against cyberbullying so other students follow their lead.
Methods of Prevention
Schools can play a large role in the prevention of cyberbullying. There are several steps schools can take in efforts to fight back against cyberbullying. Schools can take the following steps to safeguard students on your campus:
- Create acceptable use policies: construct school-wide policies that outline consequences of the bullying as well as offer students a safe place if they are victims
- Implement Digital Citizenship Pledge: allow students to collaborate on a pledge that outlines what community behavior and interaction should look like in online communities
- Use Gaggle: partner with Gaggle to ensure the proper safety features are in place where you can do things like monitor student behavior online
- Share information with parents: remember that preventing cyberbullying is a team effort and you should get parents involved in the fight as well
Here are a few links you can share with your parents to encourage them to join you in the pledge:
- Signs a child is being bullied and signs a child is bullying: http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullied
- Internet safety tips for children and teens http://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/legal-notices/internet-safety-tips
- Family rules for Facebook: http://www.socialmediacouple.com/articles/articles-by-the-authors/facebook-friends-and-parents/
- What schools and teachers can do about cyberbullying: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/cyberbullying-what-teachers-and-schools-can-do
- Downloadable cyberbullying resources: http://www.cyberbullying.us/resources.php