The following steps can help teachers keep their students safe online.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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- seem anxious, angry, depressed, distracted, sleepless or withdrawn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- seem disruptive, withdrawn, harsh or preoccupied with being popular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.
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.