27 January, 2017

Bookmarks: Confronting cyberbullying

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Category: Activism, Bookmarks, Cyberbullying, Exercises, Internet literacy
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BookmarksThe Movement is recommending this exercise that is especially suitable for the Safer Internet Day on 7th February to implement in a classroom or in an youth work context. This exercise is taken from Bookmarks, Manual on combating online hate speech through Human Rights Education (Revised Edition 2016, page 66) Available in 12 languages.

This is an activity in which participants identify their likely response to various bullying scenarios, and discuss alternative courses of action.


Themes: Cyberbullying, Democracy and Participation, Internet Literacy
Complexity Level: 1
Group size:  10-20
Time:  45 minutes

  • To understand the different forms that bullying can take, and the connections
    between offline and online bullying
  • To identify different ways of responding to bullying through web and SaaS security , cyberbullying and hate speech online
  • To raise awareness of the importance of responding

Preparation: Make 4 signs on pieces of A4 paper and stick each one in a different corner of the room. The signs should read: 1. Nothing  2. Respond to the bully 3. Report the behaviour  4.  Something else.  Make sure there is enough space for participants to move around the room.

1. Start by asking participants what they understand by bullying. Prompt them to think about different ways people might bully others.
2. Point out the signs in the corners of the room and explain that you will read out a number of different scenarios. Everyone should choose which of the following options best fits what they would do:
– Do nothing
– Respond to the bully / bullies (for example, engage in discussion, hit back at them, or something
else. If the bully is unknown, this option may not be relevant.)
– Report the behaviour (for example to a teacher, parent, site administrator, or other authority)
– Something else (for example, bring others into the discussion, set up a ‘solidarity group’, etc. You could ask them for further ideas).

Explain that after each scenario has been read out, participants should go to the corner which is closest to the way they would probably respond. Tell them to be honest about what they think they would do!
4. Read out the first scenario and give participants time to select their corner. Once they have taken a position, ask a few in each group to explain why they chose that response. Then read out the next scenario, and continue until you feel enough cases have been discussed.

Use some of the following questions to debrief the activity:

How did you find the activity?

  • Which scenarios did you find most difficult to respond to and why?
  • Do you think all were examples of bullying?
  • Have you ever come across cyberbullying – either as a victim or a bystander?
  • What can you say about the relation between offline and online bullying? Are there any important differences?
  • Has the activity made you look at bullying / cyberbullying in a different way? Has it made you think
    you might respond differently in future?
  • What can you do against cyberbullying?
  • Who should take action to prevent hate speech online? What should the role of the media networks, service providers, the police, parents, the school authorities, and so on, be?

Tips for facilitators
– If the group is large, or unaccustomed to general discussion, it may be helpful to introduce a magic stick or imaginary microphone so that people wanting to speak must wait their turn.
– Participants may want to choose more than one option, for example, responding to the bully and reporting the abuse. If this happens, tell them to take the corner which seems most important, then give them the chance to explain their position.
– Be aware that some participants may be experiencing bullying, perhaps from others in the group.
– You will need to be sensitive to the different personal needs or conflicts and should not press anyone to respond if they do not seem willing to.
– If there are participants who are experiencing bullying, the activity may bring their concerns to the surface, leading them to recognise their need for further support. You should either make it clear that you can offer such support – in confidence – or should have alternative support systems you can point them to. Before the activity, you may wish to explore existing local or national services, for example, helplines or organisations offering support to the victims.
– If participants are unfamiliar with cyberbullying, or do not seem to recognise its damaging nature, you could use some of the background information to raise their awareness both about the issue and about approaches other people have used. Where relevant, the links between hate speech and bullying should be made (especially when bullying is combined with hate speech).

The activity could be simplified, with just two options for participants to select: ‘Do nothing’, or ‘Do something’. The two signs could be put at either end of the room and participants place themselves along a line between the two signs, depending on how likely they are to select either option.

Ideas for action
Any further action will be more effective if the participants have decided on a group action together. You could discuss various ways for following up on the activity, for example, raising awareness of the  problem (online or offline), setting up a support or solidarity group, implementing an anti-bullying policy for the group / class / school, or creating a ’No to online bullying’ campaign, and so on.
You can also join the No Hate Speech Movement and use the campaign website to share video messages of solidarity with the victims of cyberbullying. You can also use the website to share advice for any Internet user on what to do in situations of cyberbullying.

Handouts – Scenarios
You have received a number of abusive emails and text messages from addresses or numbers you don’t recognise. Some have been threatening: it seems that the bullies know you. What do you do?


Some people from your school have edited some photos of yours and posted them online with nasty comments. You think you know who it is. What do you do?


A boy from a different country has just joined your class. Your friends make fun of him and have started posting racist jokes about him on their social networks. They keep telling you to re-tweet or re-post the jokes. What do you do?


A group of kids in your class have been spreading a hurtful rumour about you on social networking sites. Many kids now won’t play with you or even speak to you. Even your friends are starting to think the rumours may be true. What do you do?


The teacher tells the class that some people are being badly bullied and one young person was attacked on the way home from school. She asks for anyone who knows anything about this to talk to her privately after the lesson. You think you know who did it but you’re scared because you have received a lot of text messages, warning you not to say anything. What do you do?


You see a child in the playground standing alone and crying. You know other children tease her because she’s learning-disabled, and they call her “thicko” and “pig ugly”. Your friends are some of the worst and often laugh about her when you’re all together. What do you do?

This activity is an adaptation of the activity “Bullying Scenes” from Compasito, Manual on Human Rights Education for Children – www.coe.int/compass

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