Coping strategies for victims, schools and parents.
Bullying has a big impact on those who are targeted. It can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and even increases the risk of suicide. From name calling to physical abuse, everyone has either seen or experienced some form of bullying. With the advent of internet a new form of bullying is rapidly expanding: cyberbullying. How to adress this new phenonemon? Researchers from the SimonFraserUniversity map responses (behaviours, emotions, cognitions) that are successful (or unsuccesful) against cyberbullying.
Victims can cope in various ways with cyberbullying. They could ignore it and avoid the website, for example, or they could confront the bully’s, telling them to stop or threatening to tell on them. But there is only limited evidence that such strategies work. Passive strategies make the victims avoid the problem rather than alleviate it and the active strategies are more likely to lead to an escalation of the bullying.
The most successful coping strategy for victims is to seek social support. So don’t try to solve the problem alone! Social support can encompass emotional support and instrumental support. But be aware, not everyone is able to offer adequate support. Try to pick the right helpers when you turn to support networks, bystanders, and peers.
Schools play an important role in addressing cyberbullying. Beyond merely teaching about cyberbullying, the curriculum should focus on empowering students to use the internet in a healthy way by, for example, learning children to protect themselves, their reputation and their privacy online. School personnel also requires further education and training regarding engaging in the digital world, because students are unlikely to tell school personnel if they do not think that they can help them. In general, school norms should be prosocial, promote helping, and encourage civility and courage in bystanders. Students should feel comfortable approaching adults in school to discuss problems.
Students are are more likely to conﬁde in their parents than in school personnel when they are victims of cyberbullying. Therefore parents should be prepared to respond in helpful ways. Parents need to provide an environment where their children feel free to talk openly about their experiences online. It is also important that parents partner with schools in ﬁnding appropriate solutions, since there is a strong interrelationship between negative interactions on the school grounds and cyberbullying on the home computer. What works is when parents are involved and receive training alongside educators. They should able to work collaboratively with school personnel and their children to ﬁnd effective solutions. Evidence also suggests that monitoring online activity and restricting certain websites may help somewhat in preventing cyberbullying.
Image: Flickr, Kid-Josh
Wanda Cassidy, Chantal Faucher and Margaret Jackson (2013). Cyberbullying among youth: A comprehensive review of current international research and its implications and application to policy and practice
School Psychology International DOI: 10.1177/0143034313479697
cyberbullying, coping strategies, education, parenting