October 17th – 23rd is National School Safety Week, and Canada Safety Council, along with the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVN), encourages parents, guardians, teachers and students to have a serious discussion about cyber bullying – how to prevent it, what to do if it happens to you or your child, and how to help others.
What to Do When a Student reports Cyber Bullying to You?
- Policy. Know your school’s policy on bullying and cyber bullying specifically. Ensure you know the policy before any issue arises.
- Provide Safety. Make sure the child is safe from immediate danger.
- Listen carefully and empathetically to the students’ issue. Students’ social communication online is as important to them as their face-to-face communication. This means cyber bullying needs to be treated as seriously as face to face bullying.
- Document. Gather all the information about the incident, including any reports from friends or peers that were witnesses. Even if your school does not have policy and procedures for documenting bullying incidents create your own file to document the report. Also ensure that the student documents the cyber bullying by saving or printing the bullying communication.
- Openness. Be open with the child. Make sure he or she knows who you will be reporting the incident to. Make sure no promises are made about keeping this incident a secret.
- Meet with the child’s parents and other teachers.
- Refer the child to the police, website administrators, Internet service providers, or cell phone service provider when the situation warrants it.
- Follow-up. Continue to check in with the student. He or she sees you as an ally and is likely to continue to communicate with you about his or her troubles online.
- Prevention. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so this might be a great time to start thinking about how to prevent cyber bullying in your class. This may include one on one or classroom instruction about cyber bullying, netiquette (proper online behaviour), and/or online safety (cyber proofing). You may want to have students come up with an online behaviour agreement that they will sign. Ask questions about what kinds of things your students are doing online. Let your students know that you are there to talk to about any cyber bullying issue.