2. Preventing Cyberbullying
2.1 TAKING A WHOLE-SCHOOL COMMUNITY APPROACH
2.1.1This section looks at prevention strategies and activities that are designed to support the whole-school community. By this, we mean learners, teachers, support staff, parents, school leaders, governors, and all the people who provide support – including teaching assistants, break and lunchtime supervisors, and extended school provision staff. Each activity should include a consideration of who can contribute to development, consultation and implementation, and how to best inform and involve as many people as possible. Some activities will be targeted at particular groups – however, effectively addressing cyberbullying means making sure the whole-school community knows that cyberbullying is not acceptable and knows how to identify and take action against cyberbullying.
2.1.2 Schools can take pro-active measures to help prevent cyberbullying from occurring, and to reduce the impact of any incidents that do happen. Schools are already required to have a clear policy on tackling all forms of bullying, which is owned, understood and implemented by the whole-school community. Cyberbullying prevention can build on this (see section 2.3 on reviewing and updating policies to include cyberbullying), promoting and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment as a responsibility and function of the whole-school community.
2.1.3The first step is to decide who within the school community takes responsibility for the coordination and implementation of cyberbullying prevention and responding strategies. To be most effective, it is likely that the person nominated will be a member of the senior management team and/or the staff member responsible for coordinating overall anti-bullying activity. An effective approach requires clearly defined responsibilities, reporting lines and communication – essential in the context of the time and other resource challenges that staff have to manage. School staff with responsibility for pastoral care, behaviour and IT systems, as well as the school council, parents and teacher unions / professional associations representing staff, will need to work together.
2.1.4 It is useful to identify key partners from outside agencies who can support your school in tackling cyberbullying – the police, your Local Safeguarding Children Board, and a member of your local Broadband Consortia (if they are providing you with internet services) are recommended. Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) play a key role in coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their areas. Where instances of cyberbullying present a significant problem, and are considered a local priority for action, LSCBs may work with local authorities, schools and other organisations to support the development of effective policies to address the problem.
2.1.5 Sharing resources, practices and ideas with anti-bullying leads from other schools is also recommended. This can help ensure joined up and effective prevention planning and ensure that good practice is disseminated.
Case study: Norfolk County Council have adopted a range of strategies for dealing with cyberbullying, focusing particularly on raising the awareness of adults who may not be aware of the potential for misuse of technology and the implications of this misuse. Among other things, Norfolk has: provided training for school staff and parents; organised a two-day conference for school staff on e-learning, including workshops on cyberbullying and e-safety; asked a group of young people to design assemblies on the topic of cyberbullying for primary and secondary schools for Anti-Bullying Week; and organised a conference for parents on the topic.
2.1.6There is no single solution to the problem of cyberbullying; it needs to be regarded as a live and ongoing issue. This section outlines a prevention framework made up of the five essential action areas that together offer a comprehensive and effective approach to prevention:
- Understanding and talking about cyberbullying
- Updating existing policies and practices
- Making reporting cyberbullying easier
- Promoting the positive use of technology
- Evaluating impact of prevention activities
2.1.7 The approach you take will reflect the culture, needs and preferences of your school community. However, your cyberbullying strategy will need to align with existing anti-discrimination work, curriculum delivery within Citizenship and PSHE, and the work you undertake as part of the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme (SEAL) (see the general Safe to Learn guidance, in particular annex C, for more information on using the curriculum and the SEAL programme to address bullying).
2.1.8 As with other issues that potentially impact on the whole-school community, wherever possible and appropriate policies and processes should be discussed, agreed and developed collectively.