School context: High school in an urban setting, in the city centre. The student population is very diverse: some students come from middle-class families, some from a poor background and a few from wealthy families. The school has about a third of minority students. The school general climate is pleasant, students tend to like school and most of them have a group of friends in the school. Students often approach teachers with their problems. There have not been many cases of cyberbullying reported yet and very few cases of traditional bullying. The school has an anti-bullying policy and monthly bullying prevention assemblies for students.
Case summary: Sara, age 14, has reported being cyberbullied to the school counsellor. She had sent some ‘dirty’ photos to her 15-year-old boyfriend through Snapchat. He has shown the photos to his friends and now the boys are making fun of her. They are calling her names as she walks by them in the hallway. She has also received 13 Snapchat messages requesting naked pictures of her. The principal and the teachers have not reacted yet but plan to discuss the incident during the teachers’ conference next month. None of the other students have been approached about the incident so far.
Initial investigation: When Sara reported the incident, the school counsellor took notes of her statement. Since Snapchat deletes shared content after it has been viewed, no record of either the photo or the messages exists.
In general, students in the school are very skilled in using social media. Almost everyone has a cell phone and most of the students use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Viber and Whatsapp. They use social media for fun, to send photos, videos, to express themselves. Teachers are mostly familiar with social media platforms, more than half of them also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profile, some are also using Whatsapp.
School context: High school in a small town. Most students come from upper middle class families and live in suburban areas. The local communities are close-knit, most students, parents and teachers know each other by name.
Case summary: One case of cyber bullying has happened so far: exclusion of a boy Tom, age 15. His peers were calling him names and making fun of him through Facebook. Tom was also bullied in person: two boys hit him in the stomach and threatened to do it again if he told anyone. One of the teachers has seen that incident (in person) and after asking the boy, Tom told her that he was also bullied through social media, mainly Facebook. After that, the homeroom teachers talked with the bullies: three older students aged 18. They denied that they did anything bad or wrong; they didn’t see it as hurtful, just as innocent jokes. They promised not to do it again.
But the question remains – do they really understand the harm cyber bullying can cause?
Initial investigation: After this incident, teachers wanted to know more about how students use social media. One of the teachers mentored a student research group which wrote a research paper on the topic: they did a survey among all students and found that students know and love to use social media, mainly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Viber, and Whatsapp. They use the applications and platforms to stay in touch with friends abroad or from other cities, to talk in groups, to send photos and videos to each other. Teachers mainly use and know only Facebook, less than half of teachers have their own profile social media sites.
School context: Primary school in an urban setting.
Case summary: Tina (age 10) mentioned during one of her random conversation with her teacher that some unknown ‘boy’ was inviting her to meet up with him. They started talking through Facebook (he ‘added her as a friend’ and she responded, even though she does not know him in person). At first, he was nice and friendly, but after some time he started asking her to send him photos of her and pushing her to meet up in person. The teacher asked if her parents know and she said that “Of course not”, they don’t talk about that at home, her parents do not know/use social media, and therefore they cannot understand the situation. She does not think of the situation as problematic, she is just a little bit annoyed with that boy and not sure if she wants to meet up with him in real life.
Initial investigation: Social media and technology is popular in the school. Some teachers are very fond of Social media and use it daily. One of the teachers (Geography professor) made a survey and realized that more than 80 % of students are using social media. They use mostly FB, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat. Teachers also started an official FB and Twitter profile of the school one year ago and are posting interesting photos, motivational quotes, videos, events on the wall. The profiles have cca. 500 followers. Most students have computers or tablets at home, about half of them have cell phones. Most students know about Social media and apps like Snapchat, Viber, Whatsapp, and about half of the students use them and have social media profiles. Teachers and students are “friends” on social media.