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Cyberbullying, Haters, and Trolls

What can schools do to prevent cyberbullying?

Schools can't prevent cyberbullying any more than they can prevent regular bullying. Kids who want to bully will find a way. But schools can encourage tolerance, respect, and conflict resolution. Many schools have programs to give students a code of conduct, a safe environment in which to discuss their feelings, and a shared vocabulary that fosters empathy.

Beyond that, many schools are working to promote digital citizenship, online respect and responsibility, and consequences for misuse that involve education and re-direction rather than simple punitive actions. The ideal model is a school that incorporates digital citizenship lessons into the school day.

A few other things schools can do to help prevent cyberbullying:

  • Start from the ground up. Build a community that rewards kindness and compassion, not only academic or athletic achievement.
  • Use the Internet in lesson plans. Schools can use social networks and other digital tools within the context of the curriculum (for example, an online tool on which all students must collaborate) to teach students how to use the Internet respectfully and productively.
  • Teach digital citizenship. Schools can implement digital citizenship programs that encourage students to work together to understand the importance and power of online tools -- and the responsibility that comes with using them.