The Principal's Office: Talking to the school about digital conflict

The Principal's Office: Talking to the school about digital conflict

How can you work with your child’s school when your child becomes entangled in a cyberbullying situation?

Mr. Turner, a school principal, is approached by three different parents who are looking for guidance on issues of cyberbullying. How can the school address their situations, when the cyberbullying occurs outside of school? What preparations can help parents to have effective conversations with school staff? Watch how Mr.Turner communicates with parents to help them understand how the school can help resolve their children’s situations.

In this scenario, you will learn about:

  • The responsibility of schools to address cyberbullying situations
  • How a parent should prepare for conversations with the school
  • The community’s role in preventing cyberbullying

What strategies do schools use to prevent cyberbullying?

  • Curricula about online safety and digital citizenship. Many schools offer units on cyberbullying prevention, which instruct students in the use of privacy settings, define cyberbullying, and promote the appropriate and responsible use of digital media.
  • Peer education and leadership. Prevention messages can be most powerful when they come from other teens.
  • Innovative approaches. Many schools hold unique events like video contests and cyberbullying awareness weeks to increase awareness and educate youth about online safety.

How can parents be helpful to schools?

  • Make sure you are aware of your school’s anti-bullying policy and how it addresses cyberbullying.
  • Find out what sites are used by children during school hours, and the rules that accompany their use, so you can monitor them.
  • Ask your children about what they’ve learned about cyberbullying prevention and digital citizenship in school, and reinforce school-based lessons at home.
  • Actively participate in anti-bullying education and outreach programs for parents, and encourage your friends and neighbors to attend as well.
  • Be vigilant, and if you see or hear about any bullying or cyberbullying situations, ask the school to investigate.
  • Ask school administrators what you can do to help. Offer to help distribute information to parents or organize a workshop or event.

When should you go to your child’s school to report cyberbullying?

If you think your child is a victim of cyberbullying, consider going to the school if: 

  • The incident involves students from the same school.
  • The situation is affecting your child’s safety at school and his/her ability to learn.
  • The incident has the characteristics of bullying, including repeated actions, intention to harm, and a power imbalance between bully and victim.

How should you prepare for a visit to your child’s school to report cyberbullying?

  • Review state legislation so you understand the school’s legal responsibilities.
  • Be prepared with evidence of the cyberbullying incidents, including copies or screenshots. If possible, bring your child’s cell phone and other electronic devices with you.
  • Have patience as your school conducts an investigation.
  • Keep an open mind. Be open to the idea that even if you view your child as a victim, he/she may hold responsibility for some negative interactions. 

How can schools respond to parents who report cyberbullying?

  • Investigate the situation thoroughly by looking at records of online communications and collecting information from students, their parents, and their teachers.
  • Work to create a safer environment for the victim and bully, including taking steps to minimize their contact on school property and increasing supervision.
  • Provide support for both victims and bullies, including mental health counseling.
  • Provide appropriate discipline, if necessary.
  • Work with local law enforcement to continue or expand the investigation, especially if the situation involves a threat to someone’s safety.