Cyberbullying: What Educators Need to Know

Cyberbullying: What Educators Need to Know

Cyberbullies’ actions can have a greater and longer lasting effect than traditional physical bullying. Cyberbullying has quickly become a serious problem among children from elementary through high school. Cyberbullying leverages tools that students use most often to communicate among themselves and has increased because these tools are convenient and often free of adult oversight. They also provide the means to inflict immediate, devastating harm on the bully’s target. That’s because the bully’s message can be transmitted to and accessed by anyone in seconds, and traditional school safeguards are often ineffective. Even if a few students participate in cyberbullying, it only takes one to do serious harm. Students who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs.
  • Skip school.
  • Experience in-person bullying.
  • Be unwilling to attend school.
  • Receive poor grades.
  • Have lower self-esteem.
  • Suffer from physical and/or health problems.

Cyberbullying by the Numbers

  • 21% of girls, compared to 7% of boys, report being cyberbullied, online or over texts. 
  • Reports of cyberbullying increased to 15.3% during the 2016/17 school year, compared to 11.5% during the 2014/15 school year.
  • One third of middle & high school students report dealing with cyberbullying at least once a week to daily.
  • 33.1% of middle schools and 30.2% of high schools report disciplinary problems due to cyberbullying at least once a week or daily. 
  • Within the past year, almost one third of students with disabilities have experienced cyberbullying, compared to 20% of students without disabilities.
  • Compared to their peers without disabilities, students with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be victims of cyberbullying.

Statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Ruderman Family Foundation Study, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying within Your District

Check out our Cyberbullying Prevention Safety Tip video for the definition of cyberbullying and tips to help keep your school safe:

Here are more tips that can help control cyberbullying on your campus and keep your school safe: 

  1. You should be familiar with your school’s bullying policy. Since cyberbullying fits the traditional definition of bullying, your school’s anti-bullying policies apply to cyberbullying.
  2. You should always report cyberbullying immediately. Teach your students to report cyberbullying immediately, as well.
  3. Always carefully preserve any evidence of cyberbullying, including text messages, voicemail messages, images, videos, webpages, and any other digital evidence.
  4. Recognize that students are sophisticated users of technology at a young age. Cyberbullying is not just a high school issue, it’s common in middle school and late elementary school as well.
  5. If you become aware of cyberbullying and fail to report it, you, as well as your school, may become subject to lawsuits and other legal actions.
  6. Some actions like threats of violence and distribution of explicit images do more than just violate your school’s bullying policy. They may also be against the law, so don’t hesitate to report potential criminal actions by carefully following your school’s policy. 
  7. Your school should also update its Acceptable Use Policy to prohibit cyberbullying from locations away from school.

How SafeSchools Can Help

The SafeSchools Online Training System includes a variety of expert-authored courses dedicated to helping your staff and students prevent incidents of cyberbullying, including: 

We also offer our SafeSchools Alert Tip Reporting System that allows students, staff and parents to confidentially report safety concerns, like cyberbullying, to your administration 24/7/365 via mobile app, text, phone, email, and website. 

With preventative education, training, and preparedness, we hope that we can all work together to make this school year the safest on record.