4.1.4 Social environment and school culture

The ‘climate’ or rather the ‘culture’ of social environments that students are a part of, plays an often invisible but important role in cyberbullying prevention and intervention. The following guidelines examine what different stakeholders need to contribute to a positive, healthy, bully-free social environment.

Young people need:

  • Awareness of how important it is to support peers that are targets of cyberbullying in and out of school and awareness of the importance of reporting the incidents.
  • Training in effective strategies which they can use should they be witness to their peers being cyberbullied.
  • Support when defending or seeking help for peers that are targets of cyberbullying.
  • Opportunities to develop leadership skills, moral reasoning, empathy, and emotional coping.
  • Students are in a unique position to have a vital role in addressing the problems of cyberbullying in schools, and should be actively engaged in these processes.
  • Opportunities to practice safe bystander skills in the school.
  • Assurance that parents, teachers and other adults will not over-react if they report cyberbullying as they often fail to report incidents of cyberbullying behaviour to school personnel for fear that the technology will be taken away.
Parents need:

  • Awareness of the role of bystanders, peer pressure and positive peer influence in relation to cyberbullying. They should encourage their children to intervene when they witness cyberbullying.
  • Should parents learn of their children’s involvement in cyberbullying, they need to stress their disapproval and talk to their children about its damaging impact and consequences.
  • Understanding of how important it is to lead by example and to have a positive and supportive relationship with their children.
  • Established trust with their children, support in a non-judgemental and positive style.
  • Encouragement to promote good social skills, in particular empathy, good moral reasoning, self-esteem and resilience of their children to reduce the risk of them becoming involved in cyberbullying.
Teachers need:

  • Active involvement of all stakeholders in creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom and positive relationships with their students.
  • Training how to enable, assist and reinforce students in supporting targets of cyberbullying and how to work with students who cyberbully others.
  • Ways to encourage students to report cyberbullying behaviour.
  • Close teacher-student relationships to ensure a more positive class and school climate.
  • Skills to notice and address conflicts and problematic situations between students.
  • Opportunities to learn about the ways students use the Internet, while the students need to learn ways to solve social problems and develop social skills from teachers.
Schools need:

  • A positive and supportive school culture developed through positive relationships they build among staff and students.
  • Caring, supportive and authoritative school personnel that contribute to better relationships, positive classroom climate, and supportive school culture.
  • Open, supportive and trustworthy atmosphere with clear guidelines about how the community is expected to behave and respond to cyberbullying.
  • Knowledge and skills to effectively respond and give support to those who are cyberbullied; to effectively teach these skills to all stakeholders.
  • Strategies to encourage help-seeking behaviours from students, staff and parents.
  • Promotion of positive discipline models instead of punitive approaches.
  • A school culture that does not tolerate cyberbullying.