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Tackling cyberbullying: key considerations for schools

by Jocy Levy on June 13, 2016

The school bully of the 21st Century looks very different to that of 20 years ago; no longer stealing your child’s lunch money, he’s now focused on stealing something far more precious: their aspirations and confidence. He is the nameless, faceless cyberbully.

With cyberbullying increasingly becoming a problem in modern day schools (38 per cent of young people have been affected by it according to research by the NSPCC http://bit.ly/Nvl2EV), schools need to be vigilant and able to effectively address the issue head on. Working closely with schools, we’ve collated some suggestions on how to ensure they do just that:

Ensure crystal clear policies: Schools may need to re-address their own procedures and policies, particularly if they are a few years old, to ensure they are crystal clear AND reference cyberbullying. Many of the schools we have worked with have addressed this by revising their anti-bullying policies at least once a year and ensuring that all members of staff and pupils are kept abreast of any amendments as soon as they are made.

Include students: The charity, Family Lives, offers advice to parents who are worried that their child is being bullied, or may even be bullying others. It also offers practical advice to teachers on how to spot the signs of bullying in the classroom. It suggests carrying out projects in class to find out whether bullying is a problem in the school, or whether or not the anti-bullying policy is effective. These projects can be used to emphasise the emotional scars bullying leaves behind and increase empathy among students. They can also highlight the seriousness of bullying and the ramifications for those who partake.

Involve parents with the help of tools such as Groupcall Messenger: Parental engagement is rapidly improving; whether schools are reaching parents to inform them about school trips, truancy issues, school dinners or parents’ evenings, modern technology means the messages are being received and consequently, are being acted upon. Updates and information on bullying policies and incidents should be no exception; the more parents are being informed about what goes on after they leave the school gates in the morning, the more they can help schools to tackle the issue of bullying.

Bring in the tech heavies: With more than 500,000 apps currently in the marketplace, it may beg the question, why aren’t there any that schools can use to tackle bullying? Good news - there are! Our very own Emerge, for example, has behaviour write-back for SIMS and features photographic and video evidence functionality. This means that all incidents can be tracked as they happen in real-time and are written back to the pupil’s profile in SIMS. Well, if that isn’t a bullying deterrent, I don’t know what is?!

With incidents of cyberbullying on the increase, it comes as no surprise that tackling it head on ranks high on the priority list for schools. They are lifting the veil on cyberbullies so they can no longer sit anonymously behind keyboards, pseudonyms and websites. Without exception, students should be accountable for their own actions. And schools are increasingly adopting a ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’ approach to any form of bullying. Good on them we say!

Topics: Groupcall Emerge, Child safety