08:30pm Tuesday 12 December 2017

Strategies to combat cyber-bullying

Published by the Centre for Strategic Education, the paper School-Based Strategies to Address Cyber Bullying was co-written by QUT Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell with several of Australia’s leading researchers on bullying, including Professor Donna Cross from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia.

Professor Campbell said that while many strategies found to be effective in addressing general bullying can be applied to cyber-bullying, some of them required some fine-tuning to be relevant to a technological context.

“Teachers and parents need to educate young people there is such a thing as a digital reputation. When you make fun of people and are nasty online, there is some sense of permanency on the internet and in social media,” she said.

“It’s no longer about passing the piece of paper in the classroom or writing something on back of a toilet door.”

Some of the strategies for teachers included:
•Encouraging students to take responsibility to manage their digital reputation, by regularly searching their name, images and email address
•Reinforcing the importance of students protecting their password by changing it regularly and never sharing it with anyone
•Surveying the school community to understand where students are spending time online and the potential hotspots for bullying
•Educating students about the importance of having online friends they also know offline

Some of the strategies for parents included:
•Keeping computers in a central place at home and have clear, agreed rules about their children’s use of technology
•Know who their children’s friends are, both online and offline
•Google their child’s name to see where their child might be mentioned or where they have visited
•Keep the evidence if a student is being cyber-bullied. Parents/families can contact the internet service provider (ISP) of the person doing the cyber-bullying

“The main thing for schools is to have an awareness that cyber-bullying is actually happening and to incorporate it into their anti-bullying policies. It’s not a new phenomenon, but because of the digital divide many parents and teachers don’t have it on their radar,” Professor Campbell said.

“Bystanders of cyber bullying are the most important element we can use to prevent and intervene in schools.

“We need to promote a culture where students who see bullying in an online chatroom can email or text the victim afterwards so they don’t feel excluded. Students who bully should be the ones who are ultimately ostracised.”

Media Contact: Katrina Blowers, QUT Media Officer, 07 3138 2999 or katrina.sansom@qut.edu.au


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