Stopping Cyberbullying- Be an activist
1 Cyberbullying is everywhere!!
Start with asking your students if they've ever been cyberbullied. Ask for some examples of other teens that have been cyberbullied or have been the bullies. Read some statistics to your students about cyberbullying and ask if they agree with the numbers and definitions.
Share experiences you've had, heard about, a friend has experienced, etc. Have you ever been bullied offline? Is there a difference? What? Is either one worse?
2 Let's talk about bullying
The most widely accepted definition of bullying comes from Dan Olweus, a Swedish psychologist. He described bullying as having three significant components. 1. It contains aggression. 2. It includes repetition (the incidences are not a "one-off") and 3. There is an imbalance in power between the parties. Much of what we see or read about may contain one of these components but not all three. Next we will see three different examples of behavior by one teen towards another. Which, if any of these, would you describe as bullying and why?
Using a whiteboard or chalkboard, ask students to define bullying. Write down key words or phrases that they use to define bullying, not examples (that will come later).
3 Is this bullying?
You’re being a real bitch!
Two friends are arguing about a third friend. One calls the other a bitch.
These three teens used to be best friends. When one started dating another’s ex, she was excluded from the group.
The boy on the ground is routinely harassed and hit by a group of three boys while others watch and laugh.
4 What is cyberbullying?
According to danah boyd, "technology can amplify existing dramas (boyd 2014)." What she means can be used to describe cyberbullying. If a student is being bullied at school, technology, usually social media, can be used to continue the bullying outside of school, making it a 24/7 phenomenon. Your home used to be the safe place from bullying but it can follow you there as well. Is there a difference between what we would consider traditional bullying and cyberbullying, other than the means and places?
Briefly read the definition of cyberbulling from stopbullying.gov. Think about your last 10-12 social media posts. Were any of them negative or hurtful (feel free to give an example but not required)? Were they teasing or bullying? Would you know if you were being cyberbullied? Has it happened to you or a friend? Was it an extension of a school fight or uniquely online?
5 Is this cyberbullying?
What you see above are clearly defined as cyberbullying and cyberstalking. However, incidents of cyberbullying are actually quite rare. In focus groups and surveys done by a top scholar in the issues of online safety, "The most frequently referenced Internet safety issue that young people mentioned was the expansion of online arguments and their transition to school, which the respondents commonly referred to as drama. They explained how changes in status updates and other social networking activities could expand into large conflicts between multiple opposing groups (Fisk, 2016).”
Have you had an online interaction carry over into school? Can anyone give an example? Look at the two resources provided. Have any of you passed on mean memes or forwarded texts that have or could hurt others? Are these things you would say to their face or if they were standing in front of you? What makes it easier about online bullying? The anonymity (define for students, if necessary)? The ease?
6 So what's all the fuss?
Review the TeenSafe website and the statistics. Look for credible sources and studies referenced there. Is TeenSafe a credible source? TeenSafe is a monitoring software company that encourages parents to sign up (pay) for software that will monitor their children's online activity.
Now review the website Cyberbullying Research Center then take the cyberbullying quiz. How did you do? Discuss.
Find some statistics about about cyberbullying. Make sure the stats your citing are coming from reputable places. Does this make you more or less concerned about cyberbullying? Take the cyberbullying quiz from the Cyberbullying Research Center. How did you do?
7 What can we do?
After reading the statistics from Fisk's study (below), discuss the differences between bullying and cyberbullying. Break your class into two groups. Have each group write down what words and actions come to mind for each term. Compare and contrast the lists.
“When survey participants were asked about the differences between bullying and online bullying, responses varied. The most significant category of response was, simply, that there was no difference between the two (p =689), and responses that mentioned a difference usually began with some form of “there is no difference but.” This was closely followed by responses that mentioned physical violence (p = 636) or physical presence (p = 504) as distinguishing elements of offline bullying (“I cant get punched in the face online,” and “bullying in person is right to their face”). Other commonly referenced concepts also appeared in definitions provided by participants, including cowardice (p = 181), anonymity (p = 161), the ability to “say more” online (p = 146), and a wider audience (p = 100). Responses that stated that one form of bullying was worse than the other were nearly evenly split, with slightly more references to offline bullying being worse (p = 198) than references to online bullying being worse (p = 129). A small number of survey responders wrote that online bullying was a positive (p = 36) because it allowed students to notify parents and school administrators and provided evidence of abusive behavior. A survey respondent wrote that “on line they can say something to you and you can get them in trouble by showing your parents.” Another described online bullying as far easier to handle, noting that “because bullying on the computer you could tell your mom or parents and bullying in person the bully wont let you tell on them or trhey will beat you up.” Other participants disagreed and said that the lack of immediate adult supervision combined with anonymity problematized efforts to track down bullies (Fisk, 2016).”
Other than the online nature, is there a difference between bullying and cyberbullying? Break into two groups and make lists of terms that would follow each heading assigned. How many overlap? What differences do you see?
What comes to mind when you hear the word “bullying”?
What comes to mind when you think of the word “cyberbullying”?
8 Stopping cyberbullying
After completing it yourself, have students complete the Digital Bytes self-guided tutorial to learn more about digital citizenship.
Discuss what they can do to stop cyberbullying and how they think you (adults) can help.
Closing thoughts to discuss
“Although new forms of drama find a home through social media, teens’ behaviors have not significantly changed. Social media has not radically altered the dynamics of bullying, but it has made these dynamics more visible to more people. We must use this visibility, not to justify increased punishment, but to help youth who are actually crying out for attention. Blaming technology or assuming that conflict will disappear if technology usage is minimized is naive. Recognizing where teens are at and why they engage in particular acts of meanness and cruelty is important to creating interventions that work.” (boyd, 2014)
“This sense of being under suspicion also provides young people with a tool for resistance, however, because the ability to predict how adults will respond to particular forms of behavior allows children and teenagers to have a level of control.” (Fisk, 2016)
Complete the Digital Bytes interactive self-guided program.
Think of ways you can change, help others change, address cyberbullying and help adults understand what teens are really going through and how they can help.