Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
121 Orchard St. PO Box 340
Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada, B0P 1E0
Toll Free: 1-800-850-3887
Bullying is not a new issue, but the use of digital communication tools has certainly amplified the issue and coined the term ‘cyberbullying’. Social networking, instant messaging, online web development, and other digital communication tools have provided a new platform for bullies to target victims, and sometimes under anonymity. The bullying is more public, reaches a greater audience, and cannot effectively be removed from the digital record.
This issue in particular has challenged the division between home and school. Access to digital tools for the purpose of bullying is restricted in school, so access tends to happen at home. However, the impact on the victim and the school environment makes it impossible to ignore. It also involves all stakeholders, depending on the severity of the bullying. Parents and law enforcement may have to be involved to figure out whether an incident is a criminal, civil, or school-based matter.
Regardless of the location, if the cyberbullying incident causes disruption in the operation of the school and classroom, then it may be dealt with in the Student Code of Behaviour. If the incident occurs within the school environment or uses school networks, then additional policies will be enforced, such as the AVRSB Acceptable Use of Network/Internet Policy for Students.
However, it is important that parents and students take the appropriate steps at home if they are faced with a cyberbullying incident. It is sometimes hard to clearly identify an incident, but here are some general categories:
Harassment - constantly sending mean or threatening messages.
Insulting - spreading false information that can hurt someone's reputation.
Uploading - posting embarrassing images, videos, or text without permission.
Identity Theft - pretending to be someone else
Excluding - pressuring others to exclude someone from a group or community
We also have to consider the role our students may play in the incident. Typically we categorize their role as a bully, a target/victim, or a bystander. All of these roles play a part in an incident and it is important that we understand how we should deal with students that fall in any of these roles. As parents, it is important to communicate with kids about cyberbullying and be prepared to deal with it appropriately at home, regardless of the role our children may have played.
For the target or victim, it is important to follow four steps: STOP, BLOCK, RECORD, and TALK.
STOP - Leave the activity where the bullying is taking place.
BLOCK - Never respond. If possible, block the bully.
RECORD - Make a copy of any messages for an adult to see.
TALK - Find a trusted adult and tell them what happened so they can decide the next step.
Public Safety Canada - Government Research on Bullying in Schools
Cyberbullying and Online Teens (2007)
The Nova Scotia Cyberbullying Task Force has a new web site to provide resources for teachers, parents and students - and to also collect ideas and views on the issue of cyberbullying. The task force has been asked to provide recommendations to the Province to face cyberbullying through education, assessment, intervention and policy.