By Dr. Nicole Yetter, CyberBully Hotline Contributor

Upon receipt of an anonymous bullying or cyberbullying incident through a CyberBully Hotline number:

Acknowledge the message by assuring them that you are here to help.

  • "Thank you for contacting us."
  • "This takes courage."
  • "What can I do to help?"
  • "I am here to listen."

Gather as much information as possible; who is involved, where, when, and how is it occurring. Avoid asking for all the details in one response.

  • Use short responses focused on one point/question. It may take several sessions to build rapport and collect full details.
  • Collect as many details as possible, this will aid in the investigation and in planning on how to appropriately handle the situation.
  • Repeat back to ensure accuracy. "So, the bullying is taking place in the gym locker room, during 6th period."

While gathering the information, support the bullied student in a way that allows them to feel supported and safe from retaliation.

  • "I am sorry to hear this happened to you."
  • "Thank you for sharing."
  • "I am here to help."

Reassure the student that has been victimized that all steps will be taken to address the current situation and prevent a recurrence of the bullying.

  • "We will do everything we can so this does not happen to you again."
  • "We will investigate this report."

At the end of the messaging, acknowledge their courage and thank them for 'doing something' about the situation.

Next Steps Once the Report Has Been Made:

If the staff member who takes the report from the hotline is not the person who completes the investigation, they will give the report to the staff member designated to investigate the situation (i.e. administrator, principal, counselor, teacher, etc.)

  • Your school may want to create a standardized reporting form. This will assist with consistency and accuracy.
  • Investigate all reports with extreme care and confidentiality.
  • For example, check video cameras, utilize security, and speak to witness(es) (make sure to meet with each student individually, never in a group).

Once the report is investigated and if the allegations are founded, the school must take action to stop the bullying while following their published code of conduct to implement the appropriate consequences. The school may also want to offer empathy training and support to the student(s) who have exhibited bully behavior.

If the student decides to come forward and identify themselves; support their courage and offer them support from the school counseling department or offer them outside resources.

It is important to document all steps that are taken to address the bullying situation whether it is founded or unfounded. This documentation will be your record that you put forth all necessary efforts to address the situation. It will also be a record of where the situation has been occurring (you may decide to provide more supervision in that area), as well as a record of the named student(s) involved and if it becomes a reoccurring incident.