Effective Cyberbullying Prevention Strategies

Cyberbullying Prevention StrategiesCyberbullying is the modern form of bullying, where in-your-face taunts and threats are now done over the web. How can this bad behavior be prevented? A thoughtful article from two experts provides some helpful answers.

Before we discuss the article, however, let’s examine cyberbullying for a moment.  Often hard to escape and widespread in its impact, cyberbullying is one of the most mentally damaging problems that students face today. For many young people, their “world” is their social media presence and persona; when negative words, images, and messages are posted for all to see, the psychological damage can be severe and lasting.

With the continuous addition of new forms of social media, it’s getting harder and harder to prevent cyberbullying. Apps and sites such as InstaGram, SnapChat, ask.fm and Spillit give students a number of ways to launch anonymous attacks on their school mates. More than ever, we need new strategies to address and prevent cyberbullying in today’s hyperconnected world.

In their article Cyberbullying: Intervention and Prevention Strategies, authors Ted Feinberg and Nicole Robey offer five strategies for dealing with cyberbullying incidents:

  • Ignore or block the communications. Make a hard copy of the material the cyberbully has posted and send it to the cyberbully’s parents to solicit their help in ceasing this problematic behavior.
  • Tighten up security and preference settings to limit access to trusted sources.
  • File a complaint with the website, Internet service provider (ISP), or cell phone company.
  • Enlist help from the school psychologist, school counselor, principal, or school resource officer.
  • Contact the police if the cyberbullying includes threats of harm – cyberbullying is a crime in many states and the threat of prosecution is often the greatest resource.

In addition to the above steps, we recommend that schools fight fire with fire. An effective cyberbullying prevention strategy is to use anonymous reporting. Students usually know who’s doing what to whom; the problem is that they won’t come out and tell you. Adolescents, with their brains not fully developed, often can’t stop themselves from doing harmful things or bragging about what they have done. An anonymous bully reporting system like the CyberBully Hotline can be effectively used to stop anonymous cyberbullying.

Bystanders, witnesses and those who know who’s doing what are often fearful of coming forward face to face. But making an anonymous report is different and can often be a pathway to successful resolution. When investigating incidents of cyberbullying, appeal to the school community, the specific grade level, or group of students involved for information on the culprits.

Ask students to make an anonymous report to your CyberBully Hotline* with any information that could be used to stop the harassment. When the bad actors begin to realize that everyone around them has the means to report anonymously, bad behavior begins to cease.

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