Cyber Bullying Lesson Plans: Tips for Middle School
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Our parents' intent with this old adage was to help us be strong and ignore the hurtful words of mean children, but that phrase was a big, fat lie.
The phrase should have been, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but mean words can indelibly scar me for life.”
That would have been closer to the truth. It's sad that we even need anything called cyber bullying lesson plans in our middle and high schools, but that's where we are. We get a lot of teachers and school administrators asking us about how to include cyber bullying in digital literacy lessons.
We’ve All Been Through Bullying!
There was a young fellow in middle school who called me Celestial cumquat. I had no idea what a cumquat was, but it annoyed me to no end. We’ve all endured teasing and/or bullying to some degree or other, but it was nothing like what today’s students endure. As kids, we were taught to blow it off, have a snappy comeback ready, or let our older siblings “handle” it.
However, with the creation of the Internet and social media, bullying is soaring to higher heights and has become particularly vehement. Now, kids can hide behind a fake profile and post button to ruin the self-esteem of others; kids that wouldn’t even be bullies if it weren’t for anonymity. Cyber bullying has grown into a serious problem.
It is our responsibility to help students navigate through this time of hormone-induce stupidity to make better decisions for their own futures and the future of others.
When Do We Address Cyber Bullying?
The earlier, the better. However, middle school is typically where the really nasty, mean bullying incubates. This is a great time to begin meaningful conversations about the impact of bullying on the lives of everyone involved.
- Share real-world examples/case studies – I know we want to shield the youngsters from the ills of the world, but if we want to decrease (if not eradicate) bullying, we have to be honest. They need to know that people have died as a result of the cruelty of others.
- Discuss real consequences – States and the national government are beginning to take notice of cyber bullying cases. Laws are being created to punish perpetrators. Discuss the rules at your school, state laws, and national laws and how all of these can impact their lives if they participate in cyber bullying.
- Discuss what cyber bullying participation looks like – Some students think that even if they are aware of dangerous situations, they are golden as long as they are not active participants. Students should know that turning a blind eye can result in consequences as well.
- Discuss how to get help – Students who are being bullied need to know that people do care and there is help available. Make available every avenue possible for them to reach out for assistance and tell them where they can find it.
- Take actual reports seriously – Handle reports of cyber bullying quickly and equitably across the board.
- Promote being an ambassador against cyber bullying by becoming one yourself.
We've added cyber bullying lesson plans to our curriculum that includes defining cyber bullying, determining how to handle cyber bullying as a student, and identifying school, state, and federal policies and penalties for cyber bullying.
Cyber bullying is not a comfortable topic. We want to believe students are all little puffy-cheeked cherubs who would never harm one another. Like the old adage, that is untrue. But with real examples, plenty of discussion, and immediate responses to reports, maybe we can help students avoid the pain of cyber bullying.
Cyber Bullying & Digital Citizenship: Start Teaching Today
Cyber bullying is just one idea under the umbrella of digital citizenship.
Digital citizenship is all about teaching students how to ethically and responsibly use the Internet.
That makes cyber bullying lessons a perfect fit for a digital citizenship curriculum.
Want to start teaching digital citizenship and cyber bullying in your classroom!
Start with our computer applications curriculum!