What you said
"These little people have been told they're the most important in the world, and they believe it. They also know they're outside the law. Is it worth notifying your head and referring the incriminating clip to him or her? An official complaint could then go to YouTube, which could remove the clips, delete accounts, etc."
"A child recently confided in me that other students were posting horrible comments on MySpace about the assistant head. Parents were informed and the children were told that this was a form of bullying and would be dealt with as such. The kids were given a couple of weeks' worth of detention, made to write letters of apology to the teacher and made fully aware that any more bullying on their part would result in a fixed-term exclusion."
THE EXPERT VIEW
If you come across, or are made aware of, nasty and inappropriate content, the quickest and most effective way to get it taken down is to ensure that the person who posted it understands why it's unacceptable and why they should remove it.
It is also possible to get content taken down from video-hosting and social-networking sites, but the content will need to be illegal or have broken the terms of service in other ways. You can make a report to YouTube by flagging the content as inappropriate, but you will need to be a member of its service.
A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Teacher Support Network in 2009 found that 15 per cent of teachers have been victims of cyberbullying. There is guidance for schools at www.teachernet.gov.uk.
A key part of the work against cyberbullying is preventative, and involves education and awareness. Your superiors should treat this as a whole- school community issue, as school staff, school leaders, children, parents and carers need to be aware of what cyberbullying is, that it can be serious and it does have an impact, as well as what they can do when it does happen.
Review anti-bullying, behavioural and acceptable use policies (AUPs) to ensure they include cyberbullying, and that expectations and rules are clear and understood by the whole-school community.
In this incident, the key advice is to save the evidence and not retaliate. Report what has happened to your line manager or a member of the senior management team, or seek advice from your union, professional association or the Teacher Support Network.
Will Gardner is chief executive of Childnet International. Guidance on `Cyberbullying - Supporting School Staff' is available at www.digizen.org. For further resources: www.digizen.orgcyberbullying
- Save a copy so you can use it as evidence.
- Make sure you can clearly identify anyone involved before making accusations.
- Report the content to YouTube if you think it is inappropriate.
- Focus on highlighting the effects of cyberbullying to try to prevent the pupils from doing it again to someone else.
- Retaliate or respond online - this could end up escalating the issue and you may say something you regret.