Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Talk on Cyber Bullying by Prof. Sameer Hinduja

I attended a public lecture on Monday 15th May delivered by Prof. Sameer Hinduja of Florida Atlantic University, who is a world expert on Cyberbullying. It was hosted by the Anti Bullying Centre in DCU. Dr Hinduja runs the website Cyberbullying.org.. The lecture was really insightful and thought provoking. The trust of the lecture was helping people become better human beings so that, they do not want to be associated with bullying. He gave some really practical ideas that schools could use to bring about a change in the school culture.

Below are some notes that I made during the lecture.


Don’t increase formal sanctions for bullying. While sanctions are important do not increase them when a misdemeanour occurs. He stated that research has consistently indicated that these do not work.

Don’t have zero tolerance policies.

Don’t use public shaming.

Don’t use fear-based messaging, as this has been shown not to be effective.


Do talk about anonymous apps. Try to discourage the use of these. Although students can post information anonymously, these apps also hold IP addresses so people’s computer can be traced.


Do follow up school assemblies with a plan, send information home to parents and do role plays with students.

Do chose speakers wisely, new cyber gurus are appearing every day.

Don’t say ‘bullying causes suicide’ as this is generally not true. There are usually other factors involved.

Do get students involved in drawing up an anti-bulling plan.

Do connect and interact with students.

How to Understand and Engage with Students

Do remember the student’s outside world. A student may think or say,  “I wish my teacher knew how difficult it was for me in my house”. Get to know the student’s life, their wishes and dreams and tap into them.

Do see the best in students. A student may think or say “My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, and I am”.

Do role plays on what to do in various scenarios and help students develop positive skills.

When there is a positive school climate there is less cyber bullying and sexting.

Have a delete day with students. Get them to clean up their digital profile online.

Have deliberate kindness moments daily.

Develop positive social norming such as, “85% of us believe that it is not cool to spread rumours”. Get students on board.

Create anti cyber-bullying videos, t-shirts, logos, and art work. These shape behaviour in schools.

Don’t allow kids to opt out of the anti-bullying initiatives. It is especially important that the popular kids take part and indeed, lead.

Create purposed pairing: have 6th years buddy with 1st years to assist and support them.

Tie the anti-bullying efforts into the overall school identity. It is important to move the student voice from “I shouldn’t” to “I wouldn’t” and “this is what we do around here”.

Student Interactions with School Management

Make clear the lines of communication within the school. Ensure that students know where to go when in trouble.

Have a student’s council to give students a voice.

Develop an anonymous reporting system on the school web site enabling students to look for help.

Developing Empathy in Students.

Get the students to develop empathy, some suggested methods include:

·         Create a list of questions that help students to develop empathy every day.

·         Get kids to interview other kids, who come from a different background.

·         Develop empathy through books: Some suggested titles include:

·         El Deafo,
·         Wonder,
·         The One and Only Ivan,
·         Same Sun Here,
·         Inside Out and Back Again,
·         Night (by Elie Wiesel),
·         Where the Red Fern Grows,
·         Out of my Mind,
·         The Breadwinner.

·         Develop empathy through Movies also. Some suggested titles include

·         Pete’s Dragon,
·         The King’s Speech,
·         Les Misérables,
·         Lucas,
·         Zootopia,
·         Inside Out,
·         The Breakfast Club,
·         Sling Blade.

Promote wise sayings such as “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.[HS2] 

Help the students to self validate and to be discerning about where their validation comes from. Reinforce the fact that what their peers say about them does not define who they are.

Share positive stories of people overcoming adversity, e.g. you tube video of Natural Day[HS3] . In this way students feel that they can achieve great things.

Developing Resilience in Students

Develop resilience which in turn leads to the development of social and academic competence. (Resilience has been called the fourth ‘r’).

Increased resilience in people enables people to manage bullying and cyber bullying.

Develop the power of agency i.e. the belief that we can change ourselves and not become a victim.

People with increased resilience are able to be more proactive.

People with increased resilience have less negative emotions.

Become involved in the community. This develops empowerment and also serves to help people refocus attention from their own issues to those of others’.

Develop an ABC model of thought processes > A is adversity, B is our belief about that adversity and C are the consequences for us, based on our belief system. So in essence helping students understand their belief system will help them on the path of developing resilience.

Develop resilience through literature. Some books to consider include :

·         Of Human Bondage,
·         Fish in a Tree,
·         The Grapes of Wrath,
·         The Count of Monte Cristo,
·         Island of the Blue Dolphins

Develop resilience through movies. Consider these.:
·         Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,
·         Finding Forrester,
·         Facing the Giants,
·         The Blind Side,
·         The Fault in our Stars,
·         Freedom Writers,
·         Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Develop Resilience through heroes such as: Joan of Arc, Gandhi, or getting students to identify a relation who overcame adversity.

Developing resilience through practice: EG figuring out how to do a difficult job through practice. A Youtube video can be used to teach skills. Expose children to hardship in a supportive way.

Information for parents:

Have a positive parenting approach. The approach should provide the following elements: warmth, autonomy, structure and high expectations.

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