Cyberbullying continues to increase despite educators’ efforts to prevent it. The number of reported incidents rose from 11.5% to 15.3% between 2015 and 2017, according to U.S Department of Education data reported by EdScoop.
The increase comes even as states and tech companies have attacked this problem from all sides. Maryland, for example, even made cyberbullying punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Over the past 10 years the term “digital citizenship” has emerged in an effort to steer students toward respectful behavior when they are interacting with others online. Cyberbullying is just the newest form of bullying, Kelly Mendoza, director of education programs at Common Sense Education, advises schools adopt cultural-based initiatives to prevent all types of bullying.
While students are still bullied face-to-face, cyberbullying has becoming an equally damaging experience in a young person's life. Experts recommend that schools create a positive culture and a strong, clear consistent message about the consequences of bullying. The strategy should also focus on encouraging positive behavior toward others.
Schools can be held legally responsible for the impacts of bullying, as well. State laws vary, but federal laws require school districts to submit bullying data to the U.S. Department of Education. Also, federally funded districts must address bullying that qualifies as harassment under federal civil rights laws. It’s important for schools to stay in compliance and be sure that anti-bullying policies are up-to-date.
School leaders can incorporate four key strategies to help prevent cyberbullying — establishing and learning the correct response protocol, addressing the subject through school lessons embedded in the curriculum, cultivating support from parents and encouraging students to stand up in defense of others.