How to Prevent and Stop Cyberbullying in Schools 4 Effective Ways
Aug 08 2023
Updated at: Aug 08 2023

How to Prevent and Stop Cyberbullying in Schools: 4 Effective Ways

Discover four effective methods to combat cyberbullying in schools, fostering a safe digital environment and promoting positive online behavior.

Since its inception in the 1960s, the internet has been a remarkable phenomenon.

It has come a long way from its early stages and is now considered one of humanity's greatest achievements.

One of the most significant transformations brought about by the internet is the advent of social media

Social media platforms have completely revolutionized the way we communicate, access information, and connect with others.

They have expanded our social networks, providing us with opportunities to interact with individuals we may not have had the chance to meet otherwise, among other things.

Unfortunately, social media has also given rise to the issue of cyberbullying, which involves the use of digital platforms to harass, intimidate, or humiliate others.

Bullies often exploit social media to torment their victims, both within and outside of school.

As an educator, it is crucial to address and combat cyberbullying to protect your students from its emotional and psychological consequences. 

Today, we will explore various strategies to tackle cyberbullying and support its victims. We will also cover:

  • How our brain chemistry tricks us into being complacent with cyberbullying
  • Online privacy measures that students can employ to protect themselves from cyberbullying
  • The warning signs of cyberbullying that can help you stop it before it’s too late

Let’s look into the four effective strategies you can employ to prevent cyberbullying and aid its victims.

1 - Educate Yourself and Your Students

Bullying Prevention Refresher Kit

As human beings, our brain chemistry plays a significant role in shaping our emotional responses and our ability to relate to situations.

Think about it. 

Do you remember the last time you heard or read about something terrible happening somewhere on the news, only to have it slip your mind because it felt beyond your control?

It’s not to say that you’re inconsiderate or cold-hearted, it’s just how your brain is wired. 

Our minds categorize information and prioritize it based on its urgency and our personal connection to it. This phenomenon is known as the "empathy gap" or "empathy deficit."

Both adults and children experience this empathy gap. It can be challenging for the bully and the bystander to fully grasp the potential consequences of cyberbullying without undergoing a perspective shift. 

"Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?" — Marcus Aurelius

As educators, it's important to help students understand the potential consequences of their online actions. 

We accomplish this by engaging students in discussions about the emotional and psychological impact that cyberbullying can have on victims, such as increased stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. 

Bullying Prevention Kit

Positive Action’s Bullying Prevention Kit does exactly this through group and individual activities that equip your students with tools and words that help them deal with cyberbullying in healthy and constructive ways.

It highlights a real-life example from the perspective of the bully, the bystander, and the victim to highlight the long-lasting effects of cyberbullying and teach them positive actions, such as compassion, to prevent future incidents.

 By asking them to put themselves in the shoes of the victim, their minds will understand the pain and suffering their negative internet actions can cause and possibly inspire them to stop cyberbullying.

The table below offers a selection of activities you can use to further promote empathy and understanding among students, thus bridging the 'empathy gap.

Exercise Name Description Intended Outcome
Role-Play Scenarios Students act out situations of cyberbullying from different perspectives (bully, bystander, victim) Helps students understand the feelings and reactions of others
Empathy Art Project Students express what empathy means to them through drawings, paintings, or sculptures Encourages students to think deeply about empathy
"A Day in Their Shoes" Students are assigned to spend a day mirroring the routines or behaviors of a classmate (with their consent) Helps students understand the experiences of their peers
Story Sharing Students share personal stories of when they felt misunderstood or judged Encourages empathy by exposing students to diverse experiences
Empathy Literature Circle Students read and discuss books or stories that deal with themes of empathy and understanding Enhances empathy through exposure to characters' feelings and experiences

2 - Introduce Them to Responsible Digital Citizenship

Kids these days are pretty tech-savvy, thanks to being born in a digital era.

However, you might be surprised by how little your students know about online safety and privacy

Responsible digital citizenship refers to the ethical and responsible use of digital platforms, technology, and online resources. 

It encompasses a range of behaviors and attitudes that individuals should adopt to ensure their online interactions are respectful, safe, and beneficial to both themselves and others.

Here are some considerations you should keep top of mind when teaching students this essential concept:

Online Privacy

It’s easy to get carried away by the attention that sharing on social media brings, especially for young individuals. While this can be exciting, it can also pose significant dangers. 

That’s why it’s crucial that you educate your students about the importance of safeguarding their personal information online

Make sure to emphasize the potential risks associated with sharing sensitive details, such as full names, addresses, phone numbers, or passwords, on public platforms.

Set aside some time with your students to discuss strategies for maintaining privacy, such as using strong, unique passwords, adjusting privacy settings on social media accounts, and being cautious when interacting with unfamiliar individuals or websites.

Best Practice: Teach students the 'STRONG' password principle: S-Substantial length, T-Twist it, R-Randomize, O-One-time use only, N-No personal info, G-Get a password manager!

The Permanence of Digital Footprints

Bullies often neglect to consider the long-term consequences of their actions in the heat of the moment. 

By helping students understand the lasting impact of their online activities, they’re more likely to think twice before engaging in cyberbullying. 

Talk to them about how anything they post or share online leaves a digital footprint that can be challenging to erase. 

Emphasize that their social media posts, comments, photos, or videos can have long-lasting consequences. 

To emphasize the impact of digital actions, the following table draws parallels between physical interactions and their online equivalents.

Physical Interaction Equivalent Digital Action Potential Consequences
Gossiping about a friend Posting about the friend online Loss of friendship, online backlash
Shoplifting a book Pirating an eBook Legal consequences, fine
Yelling at a stranger Posting offensive comments Loss of reputation, cyberbullying
Graffiti on a wall Vandalism on someone's social page Account suspension, legal action
Spreading rumors Sharing unverified information online Misinformation spread, loss of credibility

To drive the point home, consider sharing stories of individuals who faced negative consequences, such as being rejected from a job or university, due to inappropriate or offensive content found in their digital footprints.

Impact of Online Behavior

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." — Mother Teresa

Words have power

Therefore, your students should think critically about the impact of their online behavior on themselves and others. 

Positive Action’s Programs and Curriculum is based on the philosophy that we feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions

For instance, our High School Kit 3 contains the "Cultivate Kindness" poster, which serves as a visual reminder for students to be mindful of their actions and the influence they can have on others. 

High School 3 Kit

By prominently displaying this poster in your classroom, students are encouraged to reflect on the positive feelings they experience when they choose kindness. 

This reflection helps them develop empathy and engage in respectful and constructive online discussions, discouraging cyberbullying, hate speech, and the spread of false information.

Quick Tip: Before posting anything online, advise your students to ask themselves this question: "Would I be comfortable if this post was printed on a billboard?"

3 - Learn the Signs and Symptoms

It's not challenging to notice when a student is being bullied. 

The difficulty lies in identifying the source of the bullying, particularly when it occurs online.

Although it’s tedious, it’s not impossible. Here are a few warning signs you can watch out for:

  • Change in phone behavior: If you notice a sudden shift in the behavior of a student whom you previously scolded for using their phone in class, cyberbullying may be the reason behind the change. While it is not necessarily a definitive sign, this abrupt alteration in phone usage can indicate that something is wrong and may necessitate further investigation.
  • Deleted accounts: Another indicator of cyberbullying is when a student suddenly disappears from class-specific Facebook or Instagram groups or deletes their accounts altogether. 

The decision to delete accounts or withdraw from online platforms could be an attempt to distance themselves from the harassment or to escape the negative experiences associated with cyberbullying.

  • Emotional and behavioral changes: Be vigilant for students who avoid social activities, spend less time with friends, or engage in self-isolation during recess. 

Bullied students may exhibit unexplained anger, become easily frustrated, or display heightened irritability. Additionally, they might lash out at others, even over minor incidents, as a result of the stress they are experiencing.

Top Tip: Pay attention to casual conversations and classroom chats. You might pick up subtle hints about cyberbullying incidents that students are reluctant to openly discuss.

4 - Monitor Classroom Online Activities and Behavior

Positive Action’s bullying prevention kits

If you ensure your students understand that your school has a zero-tolerance for cyberbullying and actively monitor their online behavior to enforce this policy, you’ll create a safe and inclusive learning environment for them.

By actively monitoring and addressing cyberbullying incidents, you contribute to the overall well-being of your students, promote responsible digital citizenship, and foster a culture of respect and empathy both online and offline.

However, monitoring your students’ online activities and behaviors without being creepy or invading their privacy can be a challenging task to maneuver.

Luckily for you, we have compiled three non-invasive monitoring strategies that you can implement to help curb cyberbullying for the rest of forever:

  • Set clear expectations: Create a poster highlighting clear guidelines and expectations regarding online behavior in the classroom and hang it up where everyone can see it. 

Communicate to students the acceptable use of technology and the consequences for misuse. Ensure they understand the importance of treating others with respect and the impact their online actions can have on their peers.

  • Foster an open communication environment: Create an Instagram group for your classroom and encourage your students to join. 

Here, you’ll be able to notice if any of your students suddenly deactivate their account or become less active in the group chat. 

Encourage your students to report any instances of cyberbullying or online misconduct they witness or experience. 

Emphasize that the group is a safe space where they should feel comfortable discussing their concerns. Alternatively, they can contact you directly.

  • Collaborate with parents and guardians: Maintain open lines of communication with parents and guardians to address any online issues or concerns. 

Inform them about the steps you’re taking to monitor and promote positive online behavior in the classroom.

Share resources and strategies they can implement at home to reinforce the importance of responsible digital citizenship.

Positive Action’s Bullying Prevention Program offers useful information you’ll leverage to educate parents about cyberbullying incidents and empower them to play a part in reducing victimization.

Additionally, we provide a Family Kit that serves as a connection between your school and families, aiding in strengthening familial relationships within the home. 

When parenting skills are refined through positive actions, children have a point of reference for how they should treat people both online and offline.

One of the children was bursting with excitement and began to pull Positive Action activity sheets out of his backpack. He explained to his mother what positive actions were and how he could choose positive actions in his life and how they could choose positive actions in their family.” — Kim Loop, In–Home Care Supervisor, Lake County Trial Court, Baldwin, Michigan

Read further about bullying prevention programs and discover our anti-bullying products.

Stop Cyberbullying Forever Through Positive Actions

Cyberbullying can have adverse negative effects on the mental health of the victim, the bully, and even the bystander. 

As educators, we’re the protectors of our students' well-being. Consequently, we must do everything in our power to protect them from cyberbullying incidents.

We achieve this by educating students on the consequences of their actions, teaching them how to become responsible digital citizens, and being on the lookout for any warning signs of cyberbullying.

At Positive Action, we specialize in providing comprehensive training and curriculum resources that can be implemented in your classroom, school, or community to prevent and address bullying of all kinds.

We recognize the damage bullying in all its forms can have on our children and take the threat it presents to our future society seriously. 

We would be delighted to schedule a call with you to discuss how our Bullying Prevention Program can benefit your school. During the call, we can explore the program's content, kits, and lessons, and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Please feel free to contact us by emailing or calling us at (208) 733-1328.