2.4 MAKING REPORTING CYBERBULLYING EASIER
2.4.1Reporting any incident of bullying can be really hard for the person being bullied and for bystanders. You can read some of the reasons given for not reporting bullying in ‘What children and young people say’ in the Resources section.
2.4.2It is important that adults in the community are aware of potential non-verbal signs and indications of cyberbullying. These include depression, anxiety, or fear. Staff should be alert to children seeming upset after using the internet or their mobile phone. This might involve subtle comments or changes in relationships with friends. They might be unwilling to talk or be secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use.
2.4.3Making sure that all members of the school community recognise that asking for help from a person with greater authority is not a failing or a weakness, but a strength which shows good judgement. No one should feel that they have to deal with cyberbullying alone.
2.4.4Because reporting can be difficult, it is important to have different ways for reporting cyberbullying incidents. Making reporting as easy as possible, and making sure everyone knows how they can report incidents is also an excellent way of raising awareness that cyberbullying is unacceptable.
Publicising school reporting routes
2.4.5Schools are advised to provide parents and carers with information about cyberbullying policies, procedures and activities, and opportunities for becoming involved in these. This could be done in several ways – through an assembly or event which parents are invited to attend, through letters home and by posting information on the school website. Children, young people and parents will need information about all the ways they can report concerns and incidents and what they should expect to happen in return.
2.4.6 It is important to make sure that all staff, including support staff, know who they should talk to if they become aware of or suspect cyberbullying is taking place, and they understand how important reporting any cases can be.
Explore different reporting routes
2.4.7There are a range of strategies, including pupil-centred strategies, which schools have successfully adopted to both raise awareness of bullying issues and offer pupils alternative reporting routes (see sections 4 and 5 of overarching Safe to Learn guidance).
2.4.8Where peer support programmes are already in place, we advise that schools check what information is provided about cyberbullying and look at how cyberbullying can be included in training and awareness.
2.4.9 Setting up a cyberbullying taskforce, made up of pupils of all ages who are helped to identify what the problems are and develop solutions in conjunction with teaching staff, is a great awareness raising activity. It could also be carried out within existing groups – such as the school student council or an existing bullying or healthy schools student group.
Bystanders: Do not overlook the role and responsibility of bystanders. In cases of cyberbullying, bystanders or ‘accessories’ to the bullying have a more active role – they may forward on messages, contribute to discussions in a chat room, or take part in an online poll. So even though they may not have started the bullying or think of themselves as bullying, they are active participants, making the situation worse and compounding the distress for the person subjected to the bullying.
We know from talking to children that one of their biggest fears in reporting incidents they know about is that they will become the target of bullying. Schools can involve children and young people in developing ‘bystander guidelines’ that provide information about the responsibilities of bystanders in cyberbullying incidents.
Signpost information about external reporting routes
2.4.10It may be appropriate to report incidents of cyberbullying directly to the internet service provider or mobile phone companies. There are websites that provide contact details17 and schools can provide this information by letter to parents or from an area on their own websites. See our section on ‘Responding to cyberbullying’ for information on specific providers and technologies relating to reporting incidents, deleting accounts and getting offensive materials removed.
An example of one service provider: “AOL offers bullying and general online safety advice on our Kids and Teens channels and younger AOL users can also speak to our agony aunt and uncle. In addition, we clearly signpost how users can report any inappropriate activity they come across. These reports are sent to AOL’s Conditions of Service team, which reviews them and takes the appropriate action”.