How to help students stay safe from cyber bullying

in News

The following steps can help teachers keep their students safe online.

  1. Plan in advance

Review your school's policies and protocols on bullying and device use. The eSafety Commissioner provides a toolkit to help schools assess and update their cyber safety planning.

  1. Set strong expectations

Acknowledge that while this is a very stressful time, bullying will not be tolerated, and it’s more important than ever to treat each other with respect and kindness.

  1. Master the tech

In virtual learning spaces, teachers may need to:

  • monitor comment feeds
  • turn comments on and off
  • ensure that only the host can share content
  • disable private chat functions
  • mute students’ mics or cameras
  • ‘hide’ or exit students if appropriate.
  1. Encourage positive bystander action

For example, we can remind students:

  • Don’t like or share bullying content online.
  • If possible, change the subject or distract people if bullying is occurring.
  • Invite the student who was bullied to join in fun activities.
  • Be supportive to the student who was bullied. Encourage them to keep a record and offer to help them report to the site or the eSafety Commissioner. If they are distressed, urge them to tell a trusted adult or a counselling service like Kids Helpline.
  • Report the bullying to a responsible adult, and/or to the website.
  • If it’s safe, tell the person doing the bullying that it needs to stop.
  • If someone is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero.
  • Do not bully anyone yourself.
  • Do not put yourself or anyone else in danger.
  1. Know the signs

According to the Cyberbullying Research Centre, a student may have suffered harm online if they:

  • suddenly stop using technology
  • avoid interacting with others
  • seem anxious, angry, depressed, distracted, sleepless or withdrawn
  • lose interest in things they used to enjoy
  • avoid class by claiming to be sick
  • avoid talking about what’s happening online.

And a student may be harming others online if they:  

  • use their devices secretively or late at night
  • become agitated if they can't use their devices
  • avoid talking about what's happening online
  • seem disruptive, withdrawn, harsh or preoccupied with being popular
  • seem conceited about their tech skills.
  1. Intervene

Explore the eSafety Commissioner’s assessment tool. Most responses will involve:

  • ensuring students are safe and supported
  • clarifying what students want
  • collecting evidence appropriately and keeping a record
  • implementing the school’s rules for respectful behaviour and acceptable device use
  • removing and/or reporting harmful material
  • communicating clearly with everyone
  • involving wellbeing staff or services as needed
  • following any legal reporting requirements
  • reflecting on the school’s approaches and their outcomes.

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