Cyberbullying is very much real and harmful. Many people are thinking it is not a serious problem, because it is happening on the internet, but it is causing difficulties for children in real life. Now a new study from Victoria University of Wellington showed that actions from teachers, school management and Government organisations are needed to combat it effectively.
New Zealand, where this research was conducted, has a big problem of cyberbullying despite a number of programmes addressing this issue. Scientists wanted to try and find the broken link, which is responsible for the lack of action, needed to protect children from bullying in cyber space. They interviewed 888 teaching staff and senior managers from primary, intermediate and secondary schools and found that these people are mostly reluctant to take responsibility for cyberbullying. For them it seems to be a distant matter, because it usually occurs after school hours. Teaching staff fails to realize that often cyberbullying is just the continuation of what is happening at school.
Scientists say that conventional bullying and cyberbullying has the same reasons and often highlights a serious issue with the school climate. New Zealand has extremely poor rating, when it comes to bullying at school. Although most children say that they feel safe at school, they experience bullying behaviour much more frequently than many other countries. Senior staff of the schools reported that it is teachers’ responsibility to address cyberbullying issue, but teachers are thinking differently. Furthermore, they do not know how to deal with this problem.
One would say that children should use less technology and they can avoid cyberbullying by themselves. But that is not a viable solution – technology is everywhere and bullying is just a result of bigger issues in the society. And so, scientists believe that government action is needed as well. Such programs as KiVA, which tackles the cases of bullying as they arise, are already proving to be effective. Finland is using KiVA, which is an evidence-based programme, and is improving its bullying situation dramatically.
Children need to feel safe in order to learn and progress. If they are bullied in school and then they are bullied at home through their computer, their psychological condition is going to suffer. That is why actions from all levels – from government to teachers – are needed to tackle this problem effectively.