One of the biggest trends affecting education across the country is the migration of bullying to digital media, which is commonly referred to as cyberbullying. About 7 percent of students in grades 6-12 experience cyberbullying each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying is much harder for educators to detect and address. The perpetrators are often able to maintain anonymity, and much of the cyberbullying activity occurs outside of school.
Like traditional bullying, there are warning signs for teachers to watch for in their students. These signs can help you identify a victim or a cyberbully and step into the situation. Cyberbullying can be quite harmful to the well-being of students if it goes unchecked. In addition, the negative effects on students can severely damage your ability to manage the classroom.
Emotional Signs of Cyberbullying
Emotional changes in a student might be hard to see, but they are often some of the most severe signs. These signals show that cyberbullying has really had an emotional impact on a student.
1. Becomes a Loner
Cyberbullying victims often take every opportunity to keep to themselves. They refrain from being in groups and take steps to isolate themselves. For typically outgoing students, this will be an obvious change.
2. Mood Swings
You may witness a victim have emotional outbursts and mood swings. A situation may go from very calm to contentious quite quickly. This can occur both in a group setting and on an individual level.
3. Increased Stress
A student struggling to manage stress could be a cyberbullying victim. You may notice this during normally stressful times or in situations where the student wouldn’t normally be stressed.
4. Displays Aggressive Behavior
Lashing out aggressively is common among cyberbullying victims. This is especially true among students who are not usually aggressive. They may show aggression against peers or even educators during any situation.
5. Displays Symptoms of Depression
One of the severe effects of cyberbullying is depression. Among youth, depression may manifest as constant sadness, restlessness, a lack of enthusiasm, chronic fatigue and other symptoms. If teachers witness a student with symptoms of depression, they should immediately contact a guidance counselor and the parents. Untreated depression can have very negative effects on a student.
Academic Signs of Cyberbullying
Teachers are in the best position to identify the reasons behind a student falling behind academically. Victims of cyberbullying can take steps backward in the classroom just like in other aspects of their life. Here are a few academic-related clues that cyberbullying may be taking place.
6. Doesn’t Attend School
Teachers may see students miss school more frequently. If a student begins missing significant time, contact a parent to better understand the reason. This is a good time to get clues on whether something else is afoot.
7. Work Ethic Drops
Maybe a student stops turning in homework or submits incomplete assignments. Victims of cyberbullying may stop contributing in class regularly. This is especially true of often-successful students who are struggling with a cyberbullying situation.
8. Skips Class
Cutting class is never acceptable, but some students may try to avoid interacting in class by skipping it altogether. This may be to avoid the cyberbully or just to act out.
9. Loses Interest in School
Cyberbullying can turn a once-star student into someone less excited about school. If students who are regularly involved in the classroom begin to care less, they may be suffering from cyberbullying.
10. Grades Drop
The overall grades of victims of cyberbullying often drop. This may include performing poorly on tests, missing assignments and struggling in group projects. A sudden drop in grades may be a cry for help from a victim truly struggling.
Social Signs of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can have a tremendous impact on how students relate to their peers socially. Cyberbullies typically attack someone they know well. Students may stop trusting their usual social group and withdraw. Here are a few specific examples.
11. Stops Participating in Social Activities
A student who is on a team or in an after-school club may stop participating because of cyberbullying. Teachers who notice a previously involved student suddenly lose interest in extracurricular activities may want to explore what’s wrong and move from there.
12. Stops Eating or Sleeping
This may be harder for teachers to notice, but students struggling with cyberbullying often sleep and eat less. This will be evident during lunchtime or if a student falls asleep during class.
13. Hurts Self
Self-harming is not uncommon for victims of cyberbullying. While a teacher may not quickly notice this, they may notice a student wearing different clothing or trying to hide signs of self-harm. Friends of the student may also provide clues to potential self-harming.
14. Changes in Friends
Students who suffer from cyberbullying may switch their group of friends completely. This could be a sign that the cyberbully is someone close to them or that their feelings of self-worth have changed.
The increasing use of digital communication by young people is driving the rise in cyberbullying. Teachers must develop a strong understanding of cyberbullying and other issues affecting education. The online graduate education degrees at Campbellsville University can help you advance your career by gaining the knowledge and credentials you need. Learn more about taking the next step in your education career today.