One in five Australian students are victims of cyberbullying, and one in four reports of online harassment include “direct threats of violence or harm,” according to e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. And the problem is becoming “more complex, urgent and serious” she told the National Press Club earlier this month.
That won’t come as news to teachers and administrators. The spike in bullying behaviour online has been one of the most disturbing unforeseen consequences of the BYOD revolution in today’s schools.
Despite the frustration, the majority of educators agree that blaming technology - and attempting to ban it from school grounds entirely - is a case of throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. But the challenge remains. How to get the best out of classroom tech while minimising the worst?
The good news is that evidence-based strategies for dealing with the cyberbullying crisis are emerging. Two researchers whose work has been seminal are Dr. Sameer Hinduja, a professor in the School of Criminology at Florida Atlantic University, and Dr. Justin W. Patchin, a professor of Criminal Justice in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin. Together, they are co-direct the Cyberbullying Research Center (www.cyberbullying.org).
Hinduja and Patchin advocate placing “school climate,” or culture, at the centre of cyberbullying prevention. It’s an approach they out line in detail in books like School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time and Bullying Today: Bullet Points and Best Practices.
But while prevention is better than cure, educators still need to know how to deal with incidents when they happen. Here are Hinduja and Patchin’s top-10 tips:
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