Maintaining a safe learning environment for all students is one of the most important parts of a superintendent’s job. That extends to the digital classroom. Therefore, it’s every bit as important to prevent online harassment as in-person bullying. Many superintendents have taken steps to prevent cyberbullying district-wide. From training to technology, there are many different ways to stop cyberbullying. Here are some of the most effective ways that superintendents can prevent cyberbullying.
It may sound simple, but defining cyberbullying for educators and students is a key step in its prevention. Some states drafted sanctions against cyberbullying. However, the term remains largely undefined. This can cause confusion when it comes to preventing online bullying at your institution. Clearly defining cyberbullying on the district level eliminates any doubt about what “counts” and what doesn’t. For example, if a group of students often taunt another student or call them names on social media, this is bullying. Both the imbalance of power between groups of students and the repetition of these actions constitute bullying.
Rewriting School Bullying Policies
Most districts require schools to instate some form of policy against bullying. Editing these policies to include anti-cyberbullying language will help. Including clauses that list cyberbullying as an offense with consequences deters students from bullying others online. Drafting clear rules about how schools will handle situations involving online bullying provides clarification and, hopefully, prevents it from occurring in the first place.
Including Anti-Bullying Resources
Administrators could also implement workshops or activities for educators and students about the effects of cyberbullying and how to stop it. The U.S. Department of Education offers training workshops and modules for educators to handle cyberbullying in an appropriate way. These programs create a safe environment for the school community and educate everyone about cyberbullying.
Maintain Consistent Responses
Superintendents should encourage school staff to intervene when they see cases of cyberbullying. This in turn promotes the idea that it isn’t accepted or supported. Quick and firm responses to cyberbullying will discourage students from participating in it. Research shows that this method of prevention decreases the chance of cyberbullying over time.
Encourage Students to Speak Up
Chances are that other students will spot cyberbullying from peers before educators will. After providing them with the resources to recognize cyberbullying, encourage students to stand against it. By following the above steps, you’ll create a safe space for students to speak out against bullying from their classmates. Encourage educators to tell students that they can talk to an adult if any situations of online bullying occur.
Technology Is on Your Side
Perhaps the best way to prevent cyberbullying is to adopt software to protect students. When installed on school computers, screen-monitoring software like LearnSafe can detect signs of cyberbullying and other at-risk behaviors, such as threats of violence or weapons. LearnSafe helps superintendents keep their students safe. Also, the mere presence of screen monitoring software can also prevent cyberbullying. Because students know LearnSafe is installed on school computers, students will be more aware of their actions online. Therefore, students will be less likely to bully others online. In this way, LearnSafe teaches students good digital citizenship and responsible internet use. Moreover, using technology to educate students about responsible internet use keeps students safe online in school and at home.