Cyberbulling: Raising Awareness in the Library

In the article, “Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric” by Danah Boyd,  it raised some interesting points about language used to discuss bullying. Boyd stated that many students may not identify themselves as being bullied, or being a bully, because of the language used by educators and parents may not resonate with students.

If language used to talk about bullies and their victims are not registering with students, then maybe it’s time to try a different approach. Many students may not be aware that one negative comment on the internet, is an act of bullying. One of my classmates (Thanks, Milly!) brought up the issue that there are so many “gray areas” of bullying.

One of those gray areas is to stand by and watch bullying happen without speaking up to stop it. By watching your friend harass someone online, you are part of the act as well. Many students may not be attacked by cyber bullies, or may not be a bully either. By creating this bully vs. victim language, students who fall somewhere in between may not feel the need to listen or take responsibility within their school culture.

One way to create effective change, would be to have an event in the library. Showing positive ways to interact online, through social media, and to extend that to the physical school, can be empowering rather than a negative “don’t do this” message.

For my event, I would first have a week long cyber bullying awareness program at the library. My event would be held at a middle school.  During that week, I would have “ambassador” volunteers, who will have the option to use their social media accounts to send positive messages to classmates. I would also have post it notes that act as “twitter” messages to emphasize the act of sending kind messages. In those messages, students would use the hash tag and then in 140 characters or less, write something positive about a classmate, friend, or student activity group (soccer team, debate club, etc.) and stick those notes on people’s lockers or in the bathroom, and places  around the school, etc. Throughout the week, there would be books that discuss bullying, and helpful information displayed in the library.

At the end of the week, there would be a final event. At that event, there would be a talent show. Before the talent show, I would show a video or have a speaker come in and talk about cybe rbullying and what to do if you are bullied. The talent show would be a way to emphasize  how each student has something special to share, and as a school we should be building people’s talents up, and making them feel good about themselves, instead of cutting them down. At the end of the event, people will go around the room and either write down or verbally share a positive comment about someone’s performance.

Here’s a video I saw on the Today Show that shows a student in Iowa City using social media to empower his classmates. This helped inspire my idea for my event. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HW3jLyeBO8

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3 thoughts on “Cyberbulling: Raising Awareness in the Library

  1. Two things I especially enjoyed about this post: first, I loved your focus on online “bystanders” who witness online cruelty and don’t take action. So true that with the bully/victim labels, the bystanders have no role. But if the focus is shifted to the positive role everyone can play, it’s a very different conversation. Second, your specific plans for middle school programming are outstanding. Ending with a talent show and practicing positive comments… brilliant!

  2. Lots of good ideas here, Lisa, targeted for middle school students who may be experiencing unkindness more than ever before. I also like the talent show wrap-up and positive comments activity. Finally, I am really appreciative that you provided that link to such a terrific video featuring kids who are using social media precisely to be kind. It was interesting that so many of the other school kids found it to be refreshing, as well, instead of putting these kids down for what might be considered dorky. I plan on using that video next time I teach IST 611, so thank you!

  3. Lisa, I REALLY love your idea to use Twitter and post-its to send kind messages. I think this is great for those who love technology and those who aren’t big Twitter fans, it’s a way to incorporate some digital literacy skills by teaching about Tweets and hashtags, and it’s just a really great way to get kids who are at a really dramatic age to stop and think about being nice to people. This is great.

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