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How a strong digital safety culture helps tackle cyberbullying in your school, college or MAT

The impact of bullying can be life changing for children. It can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, violence and school refusal.

The Diana Awards Anti Bullying research project found that 30% of secondary students had been bullied in the previous 12 months. With a strong digital safety culture in place, not only can bullying be reduced, but hidden forms of bullying can be picked up by elusive digital behaviour.

Traditional bullying occurs during the school day. Cyber-bullying exacerbates the exposure a child faces and it can become a constant stream 24/7. By introducing a strong digital safety culture, you can improve your school’s approach to bullying with improved prevention and early identification of problems emerging.

Improving the digital safety culture in schools through education

Prevention and awareness are crucial to tackling cyber-bullying head-on. Sometimes students may confuse bullying behaviour as being mindless banter and not understand the devastating impact it can have on their peers.

Schools with a strong digital safety culture will implement an education programme that helps students to understand and identify what online bullying is and how it can be tackled. It will help students to gain resilience in the online space and take responsibility for their digital footprint.

Education of staff and parents is also key to incorporating a great digital safety culture in school. Regular information should be given so that they are kept up to date on the latest forms of cyber-bullying.

Improving your school approach to bullying through proactive digital monitoring

Schools with a strong digital safety culture will have a strong, proactive digital monitoring system in place. Bullying often remains hidden. Our research found that only 5% of students would confide in a teacher if they were being bullied yet 95% of teachers would rely on a student to tell them.

Proactive digital monitoring can identify signs of a student being bullied by:

  • Detecting threatening posts and messages between peers. (Social media, emails, instant message, chat rooms, bait out pages).
  • Identifying students with concerning search activity after being bullied. (self-harm, violence, depression).
  • Identifying inappropriate contact from individuals that exploit a child being bullied. (Online child exploitation such as online child sexual abuse or criminal exploitation).


Improving your school approach to bullying through effective content filtering

Schools with a strong digital safety culture will incorporate smart filtering so that inappropriate content that could enable bullying is filtered out. This could be used to block pages such as online hate pages and gang websites.

In implementing an effective digital filtering system, it is important that schools are able to achieve a good balance between blocking content that is considered harmful and over-blocking so that key resources don’t become unavailable. Smart filters that work in real-time are best for identifying which content should be allowed.

A strong digital safety culture in schools will ensure bullying follow-up

One of the difficulties with bullying is that it can be hard to evidence. Pupils may not report it due to fear of not being believed. An effective digital safety culture will use proactive digital monitoring and classroom management systems that give clear screenshots of bullying occurring. Proactive digital monitoring will do this automatically if a concerning incident is spotted and teachers can also take evidence shots through their classroom management system in real-time.

Implementing a strong digital safety culture in schools

Bullying can be seen as a difficult aspect of school life to be tackled. Implementing a strong school digital safety culture will help to prevent bullying and to identify bullying that does occur at an early stage. A full digital safety culture involves the whole school community. To discover more about how you can achieve one in your school, see our whitepaper, How to build a digital safety culture for the whole school community.

If you have any questions about any aspect of online safety in your school, get in touch with the Smoothwall team today. We’d be delighted to help.

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