Cyber bullying, also known as internet
bullying, is the use of electronic media such as e-mail, social networking
sites, text messaging, etc. to intimidate, mock, or humiliate others
(Gallagher, 2007; Mitchell, 2004). This is a serious problem that
can occur anywhere and at anytime. Children experiencing bullying
on the school playground can often find solace when they return to
the safety of their own homes, but through technology, cyber bullying
comes straight to the victim's home (Snider & Borel, 2004).
takes on many forms. It can be done in words such as taunts,
disses, and death threats or it can be a video posted to
sites like YouTube. Remember the teenager who reenacted
dueling a Star Wars light saber and videotaped it? You probably
know him by the name the media gave him: "Star Wars
kid". Unbeknownst to him, his classmates posted the
video on the Internet and it was downloaded by millions
(Snider & Borel, 2004). Ghyslain Raza was only 15 at
the time and was humiliated on an international level. As
a result of this public humiliation, Raza underwent psychiatric
care and his parents filed a lawsuit against his assailants
(Mitchell, 2004). Teaching Cyber Bullying
Sadly such torment can lead to much more serious consequences
than public humiliation and psychiatric help. In several
cases the severe depression experienced by victims has lead
to suicide. In the case of 13 year old Missouri teen Megan
Meier cyber bullying ended with her taking her own life.
She was befriended online by a boy named "Josh"
who later ended the relationship with the explanation that
"she was a bad person and the world would be better
without her" (Gallagher,2007, para. 9). Sadly, Josh
was not a teenage boy, but the parent of a neighborhood
friend (Gallagher, 2007). One can see that even adults who
should be protecting our children can do them harm when
it comes to the anonymity offered by the internet.
Read the following article about cyber
bullying victims who committed suicide. Consider the following
discussion questions and what you can do as a teacher to
protect children from cyber bullies.
1. Does monitoring cyber bullying
fall solely under school jurisdiction? If so, what disciplinary
actions should the school take against a student guilty
of cyber bullying?
2. Do you feel that schools, primarily teachers, could have
prevented these tragic endings? If not, what measures should
schools be taking?
3. If you suspect that a child is being bullied, how should
you handle the situation?
4. How can you teach your students about internet safety
and cyber bullying?
to your students about the following:
- Keep account information a secret (i.e., password and
Do not post anything online that you would not want anyone
else to see or personal information (i.e., home address,
phone number, etc.).
Do not talk to strangers online and do not respond to
Tell an adult (i.e., teacher, parents, counselor) about
any bullying and save or print messages from the bully.
- Practice proper netiquette (be kind and polite when posting
online or sending e-mails and text messages).
- Do not say anything in anger. Walk away from the computer
if something has upset you and come back when you have calmed
to parents about the following:
- Talk to parents
about the importance of monitoring their child's activities
online and the risks of using social networking sites, chat
- Communicate with parents if you are concerned that cyber
bullying may be occurring. Discuss whether the child may
be the bully or the victim and how you can work together
to help him or her. What
you can do:- Monitor your
students while they are using the computer.
What teachers can do in classrooms
- Discuss internet safety and netiquette throughout the
school year, not just at the beginning.
- Avoid using commercial social networking sites in the
classroom. Opt for educational sites like Youth Voices (http://youthvoices.net/).
- If using a blog, opt to protect it so that only authorized
users may contribute.
- Monitor student behavior. Changes in behavior such as
withdrawing from others, decreased interest in school and
activities, crying for no reason, and a drop in grades can
be a sign that a student is the victim of cyber bullying.
Anger, aggression, and attempting to hide activity on the
computer can be a sign that a student is a cyber bully
- Keep an open line of communication with parents, administrators,
and the school counselor when you suspect bullying.
- Provide support for your students who are being bullied.
- Be familiar with and consult your school/district's policy
regarding cyber bullying.
- If you observe a student posting a violent threat, contact
your administrator immediately. Depending on the severity,
you and/or the administration may need to contact the police.
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