1. Definitions of concepts
Together with the students, give life to the concept of cyberbullying. Write the term in the middle of the table, then gather the powerful answers of the students around the concept in a mind-map style.
What occurs to you when you hear the concept of cyberbullying? What does cyberbullying mean?
2. Differences between bullying and cyberbullying
Draw a clear line on the word “cyberbullying” to divide the word into the words CYBER and BULLYING. Explain the differences between the concepts of bullying and cyberbullying. Tell also about the similarities.
Questions that can help:
- What is the difference between “regular” bullying and cyberbullying?
- Are there any similarities?
- Is one worse than the other?
- it still exists, but the parties stand face to face
- Victims and perpetrators are clearly defined.
- There is a physical and/or psychological imbalance between victim and perpetrator
- the people who are involved are clear
- there are resting phases (for example at home, away from school)
- the reactions of the victim are directly visible
- a new form of bullying which happens through the progress of the new media
- The bullying doesn't happen face to face, it happens through the modern means of communication (Internet or cellphone)
- relatively simple, quick and wide dissemination of information
- the people who are involved aren't visible
- does not end at the door of the house but follows the victim up to the bed
- once the data has been entered, it could be permanently saved in the network.
- perpetrators can act anonymously
- victim's reactions aren't directly visible
- the victim also can't see the perpetrator and assess the situation, if it is just a “mistake” (for example the perpetrator doesn't want to provoke a big wave of comments with the posted photo)
- it occurs for a longer period of time
- intentional insulting, threatening, defamation and others
- victims and perpetrators often know each other in the “real” world
- Usually, a bigger problem grows from the disagreement (interpersonal conflicts/differences are a common reason for this)
- the perpetrator uses the victim as an outlet for accumulated aggressions (“I am the boss”)
- Bystanders often don't dare getting involved because they are afraid of becoming a victim themselves, or they do not know how to react, or they do not feel directly concerned (they look away)
- Possible consequences of cyberbullying: school anxiety, sleep disorders, loss of self-confidence, negative thoughts and possibly even suicide
On the basis of: www.jugend-und-bildung.de (S. 6-7)
3. Examples of cyberbullying
Ask your students about examples from their immediate environment / everyday life. Do they know anybody from their circle of friends or from the class / school?
Ask also about examples from the media (for example the 15 years old Canadian girl Amanda Todd).
Summarise what happened, the reactions to the environment and the feelings of the participants.
4. Elaboration phase 1 - Reaction training for victims and bystanders
Please use the following info sheet.
Statements about cyberbullying
Introduction to “Discussion exercise”:
All students sit in a circle in the middle of a clean classroom. The teacher draws a line (imaginary, with tape or with a piece of string). The students have to hold a “position” in response to each of the statements. This means that they have to choose and stay on one side of the line:
- This side is the side that says YES to this statement - in other words agrees.
- The other side is the side that says NO to this statement - in other words disagrees.
After the sides have been chosen, the discussion starts. The teacher encourages the students to explain their choice and eventually to win over students from the other side. After enough time for discussion, the teacher summarizes the discussion for both sides and then ends the discussion.
The aim of the discussion about these statements is to develop action competences in case of cyberbullying for victims and bystanders.
Which of the statements is true for you?
- When I receive a stupid, offensive message I get angry and insult back immediately.
- I delete mean or discriminatory messages immediately.
- I don't tell anybody about the attacks I receive on the Internet.
- My personal point of view isn't so important to me.
- I ignore those who harass and insult me.
- I don't go to the teacher when I know that someone is being bullied.
- Other victims should see how to cope.
- I know my rights on the Internet, e.g. the right to own an image of me.
- I know that the perpetrator or perpetrators are weak and have a lot of problems.
- I turn to my parents, my teachers or other adults.
- I turn only to my best friends when I am a victim of cyberbullying.
- I know the authorities to get in touch with.
5. Legal aspects
Talk about the legal situation in your country. In general there isn't any law that defines cyberbullying as a crime, but there are separate aspects of cyberbullying which could be brought to punishment by the law (for example blackmail).
The legal situation in Germany (background information):
What does the German law say?
Currently there isn't any law that directly punishes cyberbullying. But it doesn't mean that there aren't legal consequences for these actions. Some aspects of the different forms of cyberbullying give an opportunity to take legal actions. But it should be clarified in advance whether the bullying is being performed in public or private.
- videos/photos are posted without the agreement of the person who has been recorded
→ violation of the right to privacy and the right to one's own image
- insults or dissemination of lies in social networks, forums and others
→ court interdiction or filing a complaint for defamation
- constant insults/harassment by e-mails, instant messenger or SMS
→ under particular circumstances, the anti-stalking law can enter into effect.
As a general rule:
Threats, blackmail and coercion are crimes! No matter what kind of media has been used or whether it happens in public or in private. For these incidents the parents, teachers and especially the police should be informed.
On the basis of: www.klicksafe.de
First, ask your students what they think about the legal consequences cyberbullying could lead to. Then the students could work in a groups using the following worksheet.
Legal aspects concerning the topic of cyberbullying in Germany
What does German law say?
Even if cyberbullying itself doesn't lead to a criminal offense, legal measures could be taken against such kind of actions:
- Without agreement, posted videos and photos harm the right to a private life and the right to personal image (also "Portrait right"). So measures could be taken against the post (for example disposition and temporary restraining order, see below).
- When lies or insults are spread – for example through social networks or by E-mail - legal action could be taken. In addition, a complaint for libel or insult could be lodged (see below).
- If someone is permanently being offended or bullied by E-mail, Messenger or SMS, they could take action under the Anti-Stalking-Law.
When the so called "Cyberbullys" or perpetrators, don't stop their actions after the warning, the victims could exercise their rights through civil proceedings.
Civil rights opportunities against cyberbullying
Legal injunction as a result of civil action is intended to urge "Cyberbullys", to obey the requirements in the written warning, before the court makes a decision. If the perpetrator or perpetrators don't change their behavior and there are harmful consequences, then the court accepts the complaint and the decision is final.
Court orders are fast proceedings - for emergencies. It is possible to apply for the appropriate court order only in the period after the violation has been announced (for some courts four weeks, for others up to three months).
The court order has significant advantages in comparison with civil action: it can be executed within several weeks and in the meantime the cyberbullys may stop.
Criminal options against cyberbullying
The worst forms of cyberbullying could be an result in a criminal case – under certain circumstances separate to civil action. They include cases, in which the victims are seriously threatened with physical violence. In criminal law this is called "the threat" and is illegal.
In addition it is punishable when the victims of bullying are forced to do something under strong pressure. In criminal law this is called "coercion".
This is regulated by the German law:
- § 201a of the criminal law „Violating the right to privacy through the captured image“
- § 185 of the criminal law "Libel"
- § 186 of the criminal law „Slander“
- § 187 of the criminal law „Defamation“
- § 238 of the criminal law „Persecution“
- § 131 of the criminal law „Violence“
- § 22 of the copyright law „The right to your own image“
6. Feedback questionnaire
Let the students fill an anonymous feedback questionnaire at the end of the class. Pay attention that the students work by themselves without any help from their schoolmates. Collect the questionnaires.