As a teenager I was bullied. 3rd year in secondary school is one I do not remember with pleasant memories. I have found over the years being open about my own bullying experiences not only helps me move on from the experience but also helps me to help others. Today I have the unique opportunity to face my bullies. A reunion has been organized between old friends and amongst these are the girls who ‘bullied’ me.
All week I have been in a state of panic with a maze of questions running through my head, should I see these people and bring back all these negative feelings? Will they even remember what happened all those years ago? If I go do I rekindle old friendships or get some sort of closer?
All these questions then led me to think about all the teenagers and kids I will and have taught as a religion teacher. As a person who was bullied at just 16 years old I can relate to my students who have been or are being bullied. There is one difference….I got bullied in school. My home was my safe place. For students today home is not their safe place anymore. The internet with all its social networking sites provides teenagers with a constant battlefield for the bullies and victims alike. Bullying of young people is constant. This new wave of bullying is called Cyber Bullying.
How can we deal with this problem head on as teachers? How can we help each student to understand the impact cyber bullying has on their lives. How can we help our students understand that the bystander has a role to play too?
Recently I watched a movie called Cyber Bullying: A teenage girl (Emily Osment) falls prey to online bullying and retreats from spending time with her family and friends. Soon the tormenting pushes her toward the edge, and her mom (Kelly Rowan) takes the troubling issue to authorities. ~ Jennifer Sankowski, Rovi. This movie takes a realistic and thought provoking approach to online bullying. There is some strong language used throughout so I would recommend showing it to senior classes. Even though it deals with the harsh realities of online bullying it also carries a positive message about tolerance, standing up to peer pressure and turning the tables on adversity. It is a great jumping point to start conversations on the very real dangers that exist online.