October is Bullying Prevention Month. Traditionally, it coincides with the return to school and students settling into new routines and social settings. According to stopbullying.gov, 1 in 5 students experience bullying in their lifetime. In an effort to prevent bullying, many social and emotional learning companies have created lessons and curriculum to help students identify and react to bullying.
With many schools closed, however, many are concerned with a rise in cyberbullying. PACER.og defines cyberbullying as: “The use of technology to repeatedly and intentionally harass, hurt, embarrass, humiliate, or intimidate another person.” 15% of students have experienced cyberbullying, but with more students spending time online during the pandemic, we expect that number to rise. Cyberbullying can be difficult for schools to manage because most of it happens off of school grounds, but teachers are typically able to observe student moods and behaviors daily and might be able to tell when something is off. With less contact between teachers and students, it may be more difficult to discover cyberbullying and stop it.
What can we do?
Communication is one of the best ways to prevent cyberbullying:
- Teaching students how to identify cyberbullying
- Letting a student who is a victim know that they aren’t alone.
- Encouraging open communication between parents, students, and teachers.
- Communication between law enforcement and the schools.
Some social media platforms are starting to put safeguards into place to help stop cyberbullying. Instagram just released a new feature that uses AI to identify, flag, and hide comments that might be viewed as bullying. Users who are flagged constantly will be warned and then blocked from the app. Last year, they rolled out a feature that asks users to reconsider posts that may be offensive.
While all of this is wonderful, there should be an easier way to bring students, teachers, parents, and law enforcement together. Auxilium from Alpha Recon is an easy to use app that consolidates information from the internet and local law enforcement to alert school administrators of possible signs of cyberbullying.