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The Teacher’s Role in Cyberbullying

Today, bullying has all but left the playground and is now flourishing on digital platforms — either online or through text messages. Hiding behind devices, students may participate in more bullying than they would in a face-to-face situation. School counselors are now spending a great deal of time helping students resolve issues that started online the night before. School counseling graduate programs can be a great way for teachers to develop the skills they need to work through these issues appropriately.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs via an electronic device, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. Cyberbullies accost their victims through text messages, social media, email and chat rooms. Examples of cyberbullying include posting embarrassing pictures of victims on the internet, sending rude text messages, and spreading gossip on social media and by email.

What Is the Teacher’s Role?

Victims of cyberbullying cannot escape their tormentors. Because the interactions occur online, cyberbullies can accost their victims over and over, day or night, and the effects follow victims into the school day. Teachers who learn how to prevent cyberbullying can help these students stay focused and learn to stop their bullies.

What Steps Can a Teacher Take?

Teachers who enroll in school counseling graduate programs can learn effective measures to reduce or eliminate cyberbullying. Some of the most important steps a teacher can take include the following:

  • Take it seriously. When a student reports cyberbullying, involve the school counselor. Become familiar with the social media your students are accessing.
  • Recognize the signs that a student is involved in cyberbullying, either as a victim or as a bully. Make sure you have developed relationships with your students so you recognize changes in behavior. Look for signs of depression or sudden new friendships.
  • Encourage students to report what they know to create a school culture of open sharing.
  • Respond to an incident quickly so students do not feel peer pressure to change their stories.
  • Respond appropriately. Do not over- or underreact. Students need to know that cyberbullying is never okay, but they also need to know that the punishment is appropriate. Too harsh a punishment may encourage them to retaliate.
  • Notify parents quickly. The greater the number of people involved, the more difficult it is for students to continue cyberbullying.

What Can a School Counselor Do?

School counselors can prevent cyberbullying by learning as much as possible about the students and the social media they use; this helps determine what software parents should install on their children’s devices to monitor their behavior. This type of monitoring software can be a key component in stopping cyberbullying.

Research shows that any barrier, no matter how small, can deter cyberbullying. Further, school counseling graduate programs can help school counselors learn more about how to effectively mitigate the misuse of technology.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in School Counseling online program.


Scholastic: Cyberbullying: What Teachers and Schools Can Do

The New York Times: Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray

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