Cyber Bullying

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).

Cyber bullying 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).

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.

Discussion: 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?

Teaching Cyber Bullying

Talk to your students about the following:

  • Keep account information a secret (i.e., password and username).
  • 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 bullies online.
  • 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 down.

Talk 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 rooms, etc.
  • 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 (
  • 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.

Helpful Websites and Videos:


Home | Legal Use of Information & Technology | Internet Safety |Information Seeking Skill