5. Our approach

In previous chapters, we encountered how young people live their lives merged with social media and  which are the posing risks of this kind of a lifestyle. We presented cyberbullying and recommendation for lessening its effects in the school environment.

In the project Joining Forces to Combat Cyberbullying in Schools, we tested different approaches of to tackling cyberbullying and compared them  with conclusions and researches of previously implemented projects. Based on our conclusions we believe that we can only stop cyberbullying  with a holistic approach that entitles:

  • raising problem awareness of cyberbullying,
  • promotion of safer behaviours and changing the attitude of all involved parties towards cyberbullying,
  • minimising risks in specific groups of young people,
  • trainings for school staff and
  • interventions in specific cases of cyberbullying.

This approach addresses three target groups whose behaviour affects at most the occurrence of cyberbullying in the school environment:

  • pupils,
  • school staff and
  • parents.

This chapter represents the core of this publication. Interlinking knowledge about cyberbullying, youth and social networks (more detailed presentations can be found in previous chapters) with concrete measures and guidelines for implementation (which are presented in next chapters).

5.1 Measures on Different Levels

The World we live in consists of different subsystems. Each individual has certain genetic predispositions, lives in a specific family and grows up in a unique local environment with all its specifics. He attends school with a specific subculture, becomes friend  with certain people and with them develops specific activities. His behaviour and attitude towards cyberbullying can be influenced by all of those predispositions.  Some have more effect and others less, some can have a bad, others a good influence and the amount and connotation can differ from a person to person. It is not enough to change individual attitude and behaviour (we can do that with education,…). For an efficient change, we need to address everything around him, all categories and subsystems.

Socio-Ecological Model

Source: http://www.balancedweightmanagement.com/Socio-Ecological%20Model.jpg

Socio-ecological model recognises various levels of addressing social problems: individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, and public policy.

Approaches on different levels require specific unique unalike strategies. As with all others issue it is usually easier to tackle them on lower levels (individual, interpersonal) and most cyberbullying prevention project is presenting educational workshops and raising youth awareness as their main outcome.  Addressing the higher levels can require more sources, more time and a higher level of professionalisation.

A set of actions presented in this manual is primarily focusing on the organisational level.

Addressing these levels automatical includes tackling all the lower levels as well, individual and interpersonal.

We chose organisational level because it:

  • feels the most natural for prevention of cyberbullying in the school environment (don’t forget schools are organisations as well),
  • exceeds and upgrades outreach of most other projects about preventing cyberbullying,
  • allow us to show strong points of project partners (school access, the ability to address various target groups,…).

The project has certain effects also on the community level (cooperation project partners and schools in the coalition, creating a joint knowledge) and on a public policy level (action proposals).

The project has certain effects also on the community level (cooperation project partners and schools in a coalition, creating a joint knowledge) and on a public policy level (action proposals).

5.2 Our Philosophy

The aim of Joining Forces to Combat Cyberbullying in Schools project was

To change school cultures towards bullying-free zones through addressing the challenge of cyberbullying from different angles and through the combination of different actions.

During the implementation of pilot activities in the project, several principles stood out, that would apparently be important when addressing the challenge of cyberbullying in schools.

  • Promotion, prevention and intervention. Cyberbullying should be simultaneously addressed using various strategies: informing stakeholders about its forms and potential risks, implementing preventive actions and interventions in occurring
  • Community Building. Different stakeholders should be addressed and included: pupils, parents, teachers, social workers, youth workers and NGOs.
  • Building Competences. The key to our project is in developing people’s competences (knowledge about cyberbullying, skills connected with recognising and preventing it and building a healthy attitude towards cyberbullying). Active participation of all stakeholders is needed to address the issue.

5.3 Measures

Following these principles, 4 measures have been developed and tested. Together, they form a system of measures prepared to implement in a specific school culture.

  1. Awareness raising. Informing stakeholders (mainly pupils, teachers and parents) about forms of cyberbullying, recognising it and its possible consequences (Chapter 6)
  2. Mediation Clubs. Small groups of pupils meeting regularly and being active to speak about cyberbullying and prevention of it (Chapter 7)
  3. No blame approach. Training for teachers to use this specific methodology in cases of intervention when cyberbullying appears (Chapter 8)
  4. Creativity Groups. Offering pupils to use social media in a different way. Promoting positive use of social media through creativity clubs and creativity camps (Chapter 9)

Each of individual measures focuses on more fields like promotion, prevention and intervention.  But each acts primarily just on one.

Promotion Prevention Intervention
Awareness raising X
Mediation Clubs X
No blame approach X
Creativity Groups X

As an actor in the school environment with its specifics needs and challenges, you can focus on one, two, three or all four of proposed measures. The decision is yours. In the frames of project, we also implemented two additional measures, that can help you:

  • Training of Multipliers. Within the project, we educated 20 multiplicators, that are entering school environment from inside or outside and are helping school staff on implementation of provided measures. Their typical tasks are implementations of awareness raising, education of school staff, facilitation of mediation clubs and leading creative groups,…
  • Social Media Campaign on Cyberbullying. Campaign’s main focus are parents and school staff and transmits messages that are presented in the table
TG1: Parents TG2: School staff
Aim 1: the phenomena of Cyber Bullying and its consequences. There is bullying going on in social media. Some teenagers suffer. Probably your kid was already part of cyberbullying – in one way or another. Bullying and cyberbullying exist in nearly every classroom. If it escalates, you could have many problems. Prevention is a key to success.
Aim 2: proper use of Social Media Your teenagers are well equipped with technical skills but they lack social skills on social media! Learning to use social media is not only about technical skills. It is also about social skills.
Aim 3: possible strategies to combat Cyber Bullying. Pay attention to symptoms of possible cyber bullying. Symptoms are … There are many ways to address cyberbullying in schools: promotion, prevention, intervention.
Aim 4: possibilities this project will offer them in the future. Your kid could visit a summer camp about cyberbullying, he/she could also attend some mediation courses and obtain these skills. You can get trained in NBA skills. You can facilitate a mediation club in school / become a mediator yourself or train peer mediators.