Tips and Resources to Prevent Cyberbullying

Help your students recognize, respond to, and avoid online bullying.

October 26, 2017
Eisha Buch Senior Manager, Education Programs
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship, In the Classroom, Out-of-School Learning, Parents and Families

Each act of cyberbullying hurts students, disrupts classrooms, and affects your school's culture and community. So how should you handle it? What should you do or say? And what can you do today that will help your students recognize, respond to, and avoid online bullying?

No matter how proactive you are, the reality is that students may still very well witness or experience cyberbullying. Acknowledging this and understanding how to deal with the aftermath is just as important as knowing how you can prevent it.

Changing the culture of how we both prevent and respond to cyberbullying can lead to powerful effects in the larger community. Rather than simply focusing on the consequences after the fact, we must guide students to understand that they have a choice in all of their online relationships. They can say something positive or say something mean. They can create a great community support around activities or interests, or they can misuse the public nature of online communities to tear others down.

To best help students make the right decisions, it’s important that schools and communities understand all facets of cyberbullying and digital drama. Try the strategies and resources below to address and prevent cyberbullying in and out of your classroom.

1. Respond accordingly.

All reports of cyberbullying -- no matter the perceived severity -- should be investigated. To determine the appropriate response, first find out what policies your school has in place to address cyberbullying incidents. For additional guidance on how to respond, refer to this helpful flowchart for schools, Responding to Cyberbullying, a collaborative effort by Common Sense Education, No Bully, and California-based law firm Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost.

2. Prevent future incidents.

Stop cyberbullying before it happens by tackling the subject head-on. Focus on helping students create positive online communities; learn to identify, respond to, and limit the negative impact of cyberbullying; and recognize their own role in escalating or de-escalating online cruelty. Try these lessons from Common Sense Education to get started:

3. Empower students to be "upstanders."

"Upstanders" are those who aren’t directly involved in a cyberbullying incident, but who step in to help anyway. They empathize with the targets of cyberbullying and do something about it. As teachers, it’s important to aid students in thinking about the important role they can play when it comes to cyberbullying and digital drama. Assist your students in becoming upstanders with these resources:

4. Get parents involved.

We know that for parents and caregivers, cyberbullying and digital drama can be both confusing and worrying. Help families start thinking about these topics by exploring Common Sense Education’s Parent Tip Sheet on cyberbullying (also available in Spanish).

In addition, the Connecting Families program (available in Spanish as well) helps parents and kids address important topics and have meaningful conversations about making great choices in their digital lives, from cyberbullying to photo sharing. Be sure to look at both the Digital Drama and Cyberbullying cases to explore how these behaviors not only affect schools but also the greater community.

This article originally appeared on the Teaching Channel.


There's not enough education both in school or in the home about social networks and the appropriate use of online communication tools. It needs to be integrated into the curriculum and teachers and parents need to catch up. Online communication tools represent significant educational potential but we still have a curriculum focused on a model of 19th Century ideas. The majority of what kids handwrite throughout their life is done by the age of eighteen. Schools should be looking much more seriously at these tools rather than taking the approach that most seem to of banning anything to do with new technologies - see the approach taken by most schools to mobile phones, smart phones etc.

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