In recent years, bullying has become an important topic with many implications for the social and psychological health of today’s youth. The rise of technology has afforded a number of new avenues for bullying, much of them anonymous. Understanding the importance of ending bullying at the source, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has created comprehensive training resources through its A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute. These training materials are intended to help schools develop effective interventions against name-calling and other forms of bullying, both in person and online. School administrators and faculty can access materials intended for all age groups, as well as resources for educators.
Becoming an Ally in the Fight against Bullying
The heart of ADL’s anti-bullying training materials is teaching both children and adults to become an ally. As allies, individuals learn how to respond effectively to bullying and shut it down, rather than feed into it. The Become an Ally campaign addresses the fact that about 90 percent of youth bystanders to bullying choose not to respond in any way. Moreover, educators are often at a loss for how to respond when they see a student being bullied, and many fail to act out of fear of making the situation worse. About one in three children have experienced bullying and it is only by working together and forming a network of allies that we can reduce this figure.
The Becoming an Ally workshops teach participants that bullying is not just physical abuse, but also social and verbal mistreatment. People need to first be able to identify bullying before they can learn how to respond to it. Then, participants build a set of skills that they can use when they see bullying around them. The workshop for educators lasts about three or four hours and provides interactive and participatory exercises to reinforce the skills learned. Workshops for children also delve into the effects of bullying, so that they can understand how their actions make their peers feel. A variety of different workshops are available depending on the time allotted and the age of the students.
Addressing the Issue of Cyberbullying
An increasing problem in schools across the world is cyberbullying. Studies have found that about 20 percent of Internet-using adolescents have experienced bullying while online, and about 10 percent of adolescents admit to having bullied someone online. Because of the amorphous and often anonymous nature of cyberbullying, both children and adults may not know how to respond to it. However, ADL has created a wide range of trainings to teach adults and kids about the threat of cyberbullying and how to combat it effectively. These trainings include:
- CyberALLY: Designed for middle school and high school students, CyberALLY is an interactive program that teaches young people how to protect themselves from cyberbullying, and more importantly, how to take concrete action against cyberbullying in online forums. The training helps participants learn to recognize cyberbullying and deal with it in an empowered, confident manner. Cyberbullying has critical intersections with hate and bias, and the training helps students distinguish these three concepts and respond using the most appropriate methods.
- Cyberbullying: Focus on the Legal Issues: School administrators need to have a clear handle on the legal issues related to cyberbullying so that they can pursue the right course of action when a problem arises. Online behavior is subject to a number of constitutional and legal questions, including the right to free speech and privacy. The training talks about how criminal law treats online attacks and how liability is handled. At the end of the training, administrators should have a clear idea of how to respond to cyberthreats and cyberbullying, as well as the disciplinary role they must play.
- Trickery, Trolling and Threats: Created for youth service providers, as well as educators and school administrators, this training looks at how adults can foster a better culture of online safety among young people. The training looks at the different forms that cyberbullying can take, the impact these actions have, and the reasons bullying occurs. Ultimately, participants learn how to empower youth to respond to bullying in meaningful ways and promote a safer Internet culture.
- Youth and Cyberbullying: What Families Don’t Know Will Hurt Them: This short training is meant to teach adult family members about the language they need to confront cyberbullying and to give them specific skills they can use to combat it. As more children and teens face hatred online, they will turn to their parents for guidance in responding to cyberbullying in appropriate, constructive ways. Parents play a key role in ensuring that their children understand what they can do to build a safe and supportive online environment.
People can learn more about how to bring any of these trainings into their school or other organization at ADL.org. Only by taking a proactive approach to ending bullying can we promote safe environments for our children, both in person and online.