Bullying has been an issue in schools since I was a kid, and even longer from the stories I’ve heard from parents and grandparents. Kids would call each other names, push or hit one another, and even convince other kids not to like someone. These are all examples of bullying. They can all happen to different degrees and affect kids in various ways. With the advent of the internet and social media, bullying expanded into the cyber world. Cyberbullying is now a common form of bullying, although it still does not happen as often as bullying in person.
Cyberbullying can be done through many different types of technology – email, texting, instant messaging, websites, and social media sites – through posts, comments, emails, and other means. Kids today have access to, and are comfortable with, many devices that we couldn’t have imagined when we were teenagers. They navigate these technologies much more fluently than most adults. This can cause a language barrier between kids and their parents, sometimes keeping parents from understanding the cyberbullying that might be going on.
During one of my last years teaching fourth grade I had a group of students who were particularly smart and savvy, and had the potential to become victims of bullying or bullies themselves. To integrate technology and to educate these students about bullying, I gave them the assignment of creating anti-bullying videos. They researched different types of bullying, including cyberbullying, and worked in small groups to write simple scenes depicting a specific type of bullying. After writing and practicing, they recorded videos of their plays. They watched all the videos, and then talked with the principal about broadcasting them on the school-wide morning announcements. The videos were well received, and my students enjoyed being movie stars. They also saw a decline in the amount of bullying around school, especially on the playground.
School is important, and educating students about bullying is just as important as teaching reading, writing, and math. Teaching what not to do is only part of the solution. Teaching students what to do when they are bullied or see bullying happening to others is even more important.