By Willyn Webb and Lisa Nielsen
A smart step toward empowering students in anti-bullying efforts is allowing them to have their cell phones on school grounds and encouraging them to use them against bullies. Educators can support students by sharing 5 ways they can use the tools in their pockets to deter bullying, increase their knowledge about how to deal with bullies.
Encourage students to take videos of bullying behaviors they are experiencing or witnessing. Often a video can be taken from any angle and the words will be heard, the actions shown, and the involved individuals identified. This makes administrators more capable of addressing the behaviors directly rather than spending time interviewing and trying to determine the truth. That time can be spent working on interventions and change of behavior. This also empowers the students to collectively fight bullying by supporting each other. From across the room or the other side of the playground or parking lot, a simple cell phone video can be shot anonymously and make all the difference in the outcomes. Read about students proving that bullying was occurring though the use of video here.
Gain valuable information by having a cell number where students can text staff through a free group texting site such as Celly Have students put the number in their contacts during registration/orientation/first of school activities or during the anti-bullying workshop. Put the number in the handbook, on the website, and make it available to parents as well. Encourage students to text the line with information, pictures, or video whenever there is bullying or talk/actions that don’t seem right. If a student is being bullied through texting, he/she can be encouraged to forward the message to the staff text line. So much more private than a phone call, texting can be done in their pocket, under the desk, or by an observer without causing risk from awareness by the bully. Maintain the confidentiality of the report. The risk of sending a text is much less than a face-to-face report, a phone call, or a written report. It can be done in the moment or later from a safe location and no one has to know, but the staff member who receives it.
Students can be empowered through their cell phone camera when they are taught to use it, not only appropriately, but in capturing evidence that will incriminate bullies. When there is bullying, aggressive behaviors, or even an unwanted presence, encourage students to use their camera to capture the moment. Just having this preventative policy in place will deter many bullying actions as the bully sees the crowd getting out their phones. Also, if a student is experiencing cyberbullying through social networking sites, he/she can take a picture of the inappropriate messages and send them to the staff text line.
4. Sound Recording
Teach students how to call Ipadio and put in the code, which could be done discretely in the pocket (if they had put it on speed dial and practiced, which could be a class or workshop activity) and then the bully is recorded to be played back later from the ipadio website as evidence.
You can eliminate the need for a code by setting up a Google Voice number for reporting bullying. Have students put the number in their contacts during the workshop and then if bullying happens they can call the number and let it record. This goes directly to the administrators account and provides an in the moment way for students to gain evidence to be used by administrators in addressing the behavior.
Encourage students to safely share using a daily or weekly Wiffiti. Wiffiti is a free, web-based way for anonymous texting about bullying that is happening or may happen. Just set up a Wiffiti board asking the question then provide the code to include in the text during morning announcements or to them through group texting. Students can text in anonymously to the wiffiti and report any bullying they have experienced or witnessed. By checking the wiffiti throughout the day, administrators, counselors, and staff will be fully informed regarding any bullying that needs addressed.
Keeping kids safe is of the utmost importance to parents who have long known the value of cell phones when it comes to keeping their children out of danger. These are additional ways that parents and teachers can empower young people to learn in an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible.
For more ideas, resources, and workshops outlining effective ways to use cell phones in school check out Teaching Generation Text.