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October: National Bullying Prevention Month

Jacqui Murray

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Started in 2006, it aims to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention around the world and is supported by hundreds of schools, corporations, and celebrities. While schools can sponsor monthlong events, the most popular is to wear orange on October 19, designated Unity Day.

Why is this so important? Check these statistics (from Pacer.org):

Bullying doesn't just occur in the physical world. Cyberbullying is a growing and insidious activity that is proving even more destructive to children than any other kind. It includes not only websites, but cell phones, Nintendo, and Wii, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, and fake profiles. Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs.
  • Skip school.
  • Experience in-person bullying.
  • Be unwilling to attend school.
  • Receive poor grades.
  • Have lower self-esteem.
  • Have more health problems.

Sadly:

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Teaching students to recognize, avoid, and survive cyberbullying starts with you, the educator. Use these digital resources to provide age-appropriate and dynamic education to students:

  1. Bullied to Death -- a true story of a teen who commits suicide because of cyberbullying.
  2. Calling my Childhood Bully -- a video about an adult who calls a boy who bullied him in high school (7 min.).
  3. Cyberbullying video -- from BrainPop Jr; a good primer on the topic. Also included are topical games, activities, lesson plans, and a quiz. This can be viewed without a BrainPop Jr. subscription.
  4. Cyberbullying -- geared for 5th grade and up; common questions students may ask about cyberbullying and the answer.
  5. Cyberbullying a discussion on what cyberbullying is; for older students or as a guideline for you when teaching the topic.
  6. Think Time: How Does Cyberbullying Affect You -- a hard-hitting short video that hits all the important points of cyberbullying.

The best way to teach cyberbullying is as part of a unit on digital citizenship's rights and responsibilities. When students use the Internet, they likely only consider the benefits -- what are called the “Digital rights” -- like these (from D. Ferris):

  • Right to freedom of expression.
  • Right to privacy.
  • Right to credit for personal works.
  • Right to digital access.
  • Right to our identity.

What they rarely consider -- until they are pointed out to them -- are the related digital responsibilities such as:

  • Responsibility to report bullying, harassing, sexting, or identity theft.
  • Responsibility to cite works used for resources and researching.
  • Responsibility to download music, videos, and other material legally.
  • Responsibility to model and teach student expectations of technology use.
  • Responsibility to keep data/information safe from hackers.
  • Responsibility not to falsify our identity in any way.

Make a discussion and understanding of the repercussions of cyberbullying part of an overarching curriculum on how students function in the online world.

More on cyberbullying and digital citizenship

Curriculum on digital citizenship

Image Copyright Do's and Don'ts (lesson plan)

Internet Search and Research (lesson plan)


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.