Schools tackle cyberbullying

Schools in Sydney's south-west are hoping to put the boot into online bullying thanks to a pilot program developed out of student research.

The Put the Boot into Bullying program was developed by students in the Holsworthy community of schools and is based on the premise that action against cyberbullying needs to take place at the point of conflict, online.

The program aims to provide school students with a simple non-confrontational strategy to intervene and diffuse incidents of cyberbullying on social networking forums.

As part of the program students sign a pledge and agree to promote the initiative in their school and wider community. 

Bystander behaviour

A critical element of the program is its embrace of "bystander behaviours". This concept is based on the knowledge that when bystanders act against real-life bullying there is a good chance the bullying will stop. 

Students who are "defended" are better adjusted and report less peer victimisation one year later.  Reconciliation is more likely when bystanders intervene than when teachers intervene.

A student-based issue

The students identified the need for active student involvement and student voice as a key ingredient to any successful anti-cyberbullying initiative. 

Team leader Brogan Mulhall said because cyberbullying was a student-based issue, "the most effective solutions come from student-based and student-led approaches". 

Holsworthy High School deputy principal Michael Fry said the program recognised students were "immersed daily in social media and therefore they are at the forefront of this form of communication, so they have a greater understanding of it in an immediate sense".

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