The internet is considered children and teens’ territory, yet adults are still obliged to prevent cyberbullying associated with it. Usually they are parents and teachers with whom kids spend the most of their time. However, the latter are often reluctant to report about online abuse. Of course, a lot has been already done to reduce the number of victims, but the problem still remains. Considering its possible consequences, including the fatal outcome, we cannot tolerate complacency. For sure, there is a way to change the situation for the better if teachers and parents, who have the most interest in kids’ safety, join their hands to reduce the prevalence of cyberbullying.
What roles do they have to assume?
It is of utmost importance that representatives of each part define their area of responsibility based on their needs, possibilities and expertise.
Tip 1: Educate One Another
Teachers can be educators for parents, as well, and consult them on online safety matters. Thanks to the chance to speak in front of a parent audience, they can spread information on cyberbullying during PTA meetings and save valuable time. Of course, it means taking on additional responsibilities, but the results are worth the effort. The fact is that parents often do not know how they can help their kids and might make the situation even worse. They need to be taught how to talk to children about cyberbullying, how to ensure their online safety, and where to look for cyberbullying laws and legislation. Of course, this information can be found on the internet, but not all parents are aware of this problem. Secondly, teachers can give them advice on different approaches that can be used for kids based on their personality. Parents also often fail to collect the evidence of online harassment, being unaware that they can get access to their kids’ mobile devices thanks to a tracking application, and take screenshots of abusive messages from bullies. Teachers have to be quite tech savvy to explain to them all these details and give advice about various parental control solutions.
Tip 2: Share Information
Teachers have a great possibility to observe kids among their peers and need to provide parents with this information. The latter often do not even realize that children can behave differently at home and at school. For instance, a seemingly confident child may be shy and reserved outside their comfortable environment, which makes them potential victims of cyberbullies. Teachers can organize trainings for these kids to raise their emotional intelligence.
Tip 3: Develop Anonymous Reporting Systems Together
Parents should be involved in a discussion about what anonymous reporting system for cyberbullying incidents the school should implement. There are free solutions, however, commercial services provide far more useful features, of course. These systems are really important and do not only help to prevent cyberbullying, but also encourage kids to step up for others who are being victimized.
Tip 4: Prevent Bullying Before It Begins
Teachers and parents should work together on raising kids who do not accept the idea of bullying. Short school meetings where teachers try to teach students to be empathetic are not effective unless kids get the same message at home. The more often parents talk to kids about the inadmissibility of peers abuse, the better. The research shows that about 40% of kids whose parents had talked to them about bullying couldn’t recall what their parents had said.
Tip 5: Include Stakeholders Outside the School
Parents and teachers can also discuss cooperation with organizations that provide services such as reviewing policies and procedures related to cyberbullying, training of administrators, staff, and students, as well as delivering parent workshops.
It is important that parents and teachers are conscious about the fact that cyberbullying is always easier to prevent than to deal with. They have to understand that their efforts are not the waste of time and will be especially effective if both parts are cooperative and have a common goal.
Jana Rooheart is an online safety specialist, a blogger and a mom. Her main interests include education technologies and cyberpsychology.
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