This section is designed to provide advice to schools on the options available for responding to incidents of cyberbullying.
3.1 CYBERBULLYING IS A FORM OF BULLYING
3.1.1It is important to recognise that cyberbullying is a form of bullying, and as such schools should already be equipped to deal with the majority of cyberbullying cases through their existing anti-bullying and behaviour policies and procedures (see the ‘Preventing cyberbullying’ section for information on including cyberbullying in these policies).
3.1.2 In all cases of bullying, incidents should be properly documented, recorded and investigated; support should be provided for the person being bullied; other staff members and parents should be informed as appropriate; and those found to be bullying should be interviewed and receive appropriate sanctions.
3.1.3 There are particular features of cyberbullying that differ from other forms of bullying and need to be recognised and taken into account when determining how to respond effectively. The key differences are:
- Impact: the scale and scope of cyberbullying can be greater than other forms of bullying.
- Targets and perpetrators: the people involved may have a different profile to traditional bullies and their targets.
- Location: the 24/7 and any place nature of cyberbullying.
- Anonymity: the person being bullied will not always know who is attacking them.
- Motivation: some pupils may not be aware that what they are doing is bullying.
- Evidence: unlike other forms of bullying, the target of the bullying will have evidence of its occurrence.
For more information on the differences between cyberbullying and other forms of bullying, see section 1.4 of the ‘Understanding cyberbullying’ chapter.
3.1.4Practices and procedures to report and respond to incidents of bullying and discrimination should already be in place in the school, and the majority of cyberbullying cases will be effectively dealt with within existing protocols.
3.1.5 In addition to existing procedures, staff should be particularly aware of the following during any response to cyberbullying incidents:
- Supporting the person being bullied
- Recording and investigating incidents
- Working with the bully and sanctions