We oftentimes think of bullying, especially cyber-bullying, as a problem that exists mostly in the lives of teenagers, but the facts show that bullying can begin as early as age two, and can be dangerous even in elementary school. According to educational reports, 20% of elementary school children have been the victim of 2014-10-21_09-55-27a bully. A bully who, if not stopped, will go on to be a middle school bully and later a high school bully. In order to break this chain of events Edutopia offers ideas on How to Cultivate a Bully-Free Community. In a moment we will talk about some of the teenage statistics regarding bullying, but for now let us focus on best practice for creating a bully-free environment.

quotescover-JPG-61One of the key concepts promoted in the article is to create a culture of compassion within the classroom. The school highlighted in the article is trained in Marshall Rosenberg’s Compassionate Communication which promotes regular discussion and clear communication as a means of bullying prevention rather than awkward Public Service Announcements or one-stop bullying prevention weeks, or quick programs.

Creating a culture of compassion is something often overlooked within the classroom, especially given the demands already placed upon teachers with regard to content coverage and testing requirements. Nonetheless, research is 2014-10-21_10-19-10beginning to consistently show that compassion and mindfulness taught in schools has a positive effect not only on bullying, but in many other areas as well. This brings me to another article posted on Edutopia entitled Creating More Compassionate Classrooms which provides more information on how to make your classroom environment into one of compassion, and thus fight bullying with long-term, research-based, best practice.



Most of the statistics on bullying come from the world of teenagers, but they are staggering and we know that many of these bullies did not begin their “careers” as teenagers, most probably began at a much younger age. Nonetheless, here are some statistics:

  • Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online
  • 1 in 4 (of the 43%) says it has happened more than once
  • 81% of young people think that bullying online is easier to get away with
  • 70% of students report frequently seeing bullying online
  • Teens who spend three or more hours per day on social networking sites are 110% more likely to be cyber bullied
  • 1 in 10 adolescents have had embarrassing or damaging photos of themselves posted online
  • The most common medium for cyberbullying is smartphones
  • 25% of teens have been bullied via text message
  • 64% of teens report being bullied on Facebook
  • 29% of teens report being harassed on Twitter
  • 21% of teens have been bullied via email or direct messaging
  • Girls are twice as likely to be the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying as boys
  • Boys are more likely to be threatened than girls
  • 1 in 10 victims will inform their parents
  • Victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide
  • Victims are more likely to have low self esteem

You might also like a copy of this infographic that displays all of this information plus more.


We all know, however, that after looking at these statistics we need stopgap measures to help raise awareness of bullying, hopefully prevent bullying, and let those being bullied know that there are safe ways to stop bullying. Here are some resources you can use in your classroom.

Cyberbullying Toolkit – Standing up, Not Standing By: A Free Cyberbullying Toolkit for Educators

Cyberbullying Toolkit - Standing up, Not Standing By: A Free Cyberbullying Toolkit for EducatorsEvery day, you see how cyberbullying hurts students, disrupts classrooms, and impacts your school’s culture. So how should you handle it? What are the right things to do and say? What can you do today that will help your students avoid this pitfall of our digital world?

CommonSenseMedia created this free toolkit to help you take on those questions and take an effective stand against cyberbullying. So start here. Use it now. Rely on it to start your year off right.

Great Free Poster About Cyber-Bullying

Check out the neat snapshot of a free poster available in two sizes for download:

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Cyberbullying: What Teachers and Schools Can Do

Cyberbullying: What Teachers and Schools Can DoFrom Scholastic: Cyberbullying: What Teachers and Schools Can Do: They may not call it cyberbullying. Students may say they got “dissed” on Facebook or that someone flooded their phone with mean texts. Even little kids have been known to hack into Club Penguin to sabotage each other’s games.While most of these incidents occur at home, the problems spill over to the classroom, making cyberbullying an issue teachers can’t ignore.The answer isn’t forbidding technology, say experts, so much as teaching kids right from wrong. As a teacher, you can be a powerful force in promoting a climate of respect. Educate yourself and be on the lookout for signs that cyberbullying is taking place, because you may be the trusted adult a student turns to for help.

The 8 Venues of Cyberbullying

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Why You Should Talk to Kids About Cyberbullying [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why You Should Talk to Kids About Cyberbullying [INFOGRAPHIC]

According to a recent study by internet security company McAfee, kids are witnessing and sometimes engaging in cyber bullying. Almost one in four of teens claimed to be a target of cyberbullying and two-thirds of all teens have witnessed cruel behavior online, notes the Teen Internet Behavior study.

Prevent Bullying Through the Power of Stories

October is Bullying Prevention Month and nothing beats the power of a good story to help students understand the emotional impact of bullying. Listen Current brings you this collection of public radio stories featuring the voices of young people who have been bullied or been bullies themselves. The speakers talk about developing empathy and the effect bullying had on their lives.

Five-Minute Film Festival: Preventing Bullying

From Edutopia: October is Bullying Prevention Month, and schools and families across the country are having frank discussions to raise awareness about bullying. It’s a subject that’s grown increasingly complex and troubling over the years: while in-person teasing and harassment has never flagged, new technologies have given rise to cyberbullying, which can be equally as damaging — and even more public. And news of tragic consequences stemming from cases of both kinds spreads quickly through social media.

Teaching Empathy: Turning a Lesson Plan into a Life Skill

Teaching Empathy: Turning a Lesson Plan into a Life Skill

From Edudemic: With classrooms operating more like grade factories, it’s hard to make the case for school-driven empathy. Faced with an endless cycle of memorize, drill, spit back and test, teachers have become the wardens of a new educational reality that pits the head against the heart. Even if educators manage to skate past the dizzying array of standards and value-added evaluations, they must still contend with this fundamental divide: academic rigor, with its unflinching emphasis on measurable success, seems strangely at odds with emotional intelligence, a soufflé of moods and feelings. Which leaves many to wonder — can empathy feel its way back into the classroom?

A Moment for ISTE Standards

ISTE STUDENT Standard 5. Digital citizenshipStudents understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

ISTE TEACHER Standard 4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

  • Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources
  • Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources
  • Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information
  • Develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital age communication and collaboration tools


This is a great, powerful poem about bullying. A must watch for all teachers and appropriate for upper grades.

Suggested Uses

  • Create a culture of compassion in your classroom by encouraging open dialogue.
  • Share some of the resources with your students. Take time to talk to them about bullying/cyber-bullying.

Why it Matters (Teaching Rubric)

By creating a classroom culture of compassion you help to create a Respectful Culture (essential competency 3.4) by communicating in a way that is professional, positive, open, and inclusive of all students. You also generate much better Knowledge of Students (essential competency 2.7) as you hold brief, informal discussions with your students. You become aware of their differences, backgrounds, and interests which can lead to more informed and better differentiated teaching.

Your Challenge

Take one or more of the resources/ideas in this article and bring it to life in your classroom. Hold a discussion about bullying, and allow the students to be open and honest. Conduct one of the CommonSenseMedia lessons. The most important thing is that you open up a dialogue with your students, and make sure they are aware that you will not tolerate bullying – not being compassionate – within your sphere of influence in their lives. Help students to understand what compassion is, and how it manifests for them in their daily lives. Share your ideas and thoughts on how you might accomplish this in the comments area below.

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  1. Powerful, powerful TED talk. Wow! Lots of great resources shared above. A few of the readings we do during the semester in my class center around bullying and I could see using the resources here to supplement those readings.

  2. We watched a video this year during homeroom regarding bullying and the statistics with it. I have a pretty rough and rowdy group of 26 and for one day they were pretty good. The next time we met I brought up the video again to have a quick discussion hoping to remind them of their feelings that day- nope. I have since brought up other anti bullying ideas in homeroom regarding cyber bullying (huge at the high school level)- with no luck yet in my homeroom. I am still trying and will show a few of these clips. I do teach about cyber words coming back to you when I teach my Business Math class and we do mock interviews and I ask a mock question regarding a picture or post to facebook that I accessed prior to the interview (mock); it puts it into place for some of the seniors at that point.

  3. This topic is so very important to take the time to cover. The more students have these stories in front of them, the more they will be inclined to be moved by compassion. I love the movie To Save a Life. It so vividly portrays the struggle of both being bullied and learning to stand up for others.

  4. I am going to do the challenge most likely in my Success class first. It is a 30 minute enrichment class that meets daily. I hope to incorporate this into my health classes as well. We talk about bullying in our health classes, but the resources above are going to b invaluable. I also plan to share this info with our guidance counselor. Awesome resources!

  5. This is a wealth of information. I have shared many things about compassion in my classroom through the years, one of my favorite being the story of “the ugliest woman in the world” Lizzie Velasquez. She has such a powerful message about being proud of yourself in the face of ridicule. Our school also practices the Character Counts program. I worry about cyber bullying often because of being a 1:1 school, but we work on activities throughout the school year to show the importance of treating others how you wish to be treated. I will definitely be posting some of the info graphics in my classroom and sharing these great ideas with the school counselor so she can use them for the entire school.

  6. I think it is important for kids to realize that their online words can hurt just as much as their words in person. It always amazes me how many students have altercations at school due to words shared online at home. This can create a culture of distrust and anger in the school, with the teachers having nothing to do with creating the climate in the classroom. I always like to do the line in the middle of the classroom activity, similar to what you see in the movie “Freedom Writers.” I know it sounds corny, but it always seems to work in my class. Students who can see that they have more in common than they have different can really build camaraderie in the classroom rather than create difficulties. Bullying is a serious issue that we have to deal with now in the classroom and it always blows my mind the things that our kids have to deal with that we never had to.

  7. I showed the video of Shane Koyczan to my first period class during their morning reading time. We then had a discussion about one of the two suicides that happened last year in our school corporation (one of them being an eighth grader and the other being a high schooler). We discussed that the high schooler was being bullied. Even though most of them did not know the high schooler closely they tied that together with our eighth grader. We discussed that labels can hurt, just like pork chop. We also discussed that if bullying is occurring we must tell somebody. A small percentage of the eighth grade got to see the video, so I shared the video with our language arts teacher and she is going to show it when she covers poetry.

  8. Oh wow!!!! If only I’d looked at this a bit sooner. Just searched the web for bullying resources and spent much more time that needed planning a couple lessons. I love this. It always amazes me the statistics on bullying. So scary! I only hope that I am teaching my students the way to avoid, deal, and not be a bully!

  9. I absolutely agree teaching the importance of your impact-good or bad is so important in society today. It starts in elementary school and continues throughout life. Every person is important. I’ve used a motto in my classroom for years that every students seems to love and live-at least while they are in our classroom- “Eveyone’s BEST is a little bit DIFFERENT!” This has help promote a classroom culture of teamwork and respect.

  10. Especially with my freshmen, I include a talk about bullying on the first day of school when I discuss my expectations. Students come to understand pretty quickly that I don’t allow rude comments or bullying in my class. But I recognize after reading these resources that creating a zero tolerance policy for bullying isn’t the same as creating a culture of compassion. Creating that culture takes far more than one lesson plan. I think the posters are a good start, and I can’t wait to use the Koyczan video. Now that I’m better informed, I can be a resource and a model for the students, too.

  11. Something that my teaching partner Mrs. Coy and I started using 5 years ago in the Shepard Academy is using essays (we use on a variety of topics including: bullying, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. The students read these essays and respond to questions that help them process and apply the essay to their own lives and experiences. The students then gather together to discuss the essay sharing ideas and opinions in a civil and respectful manner.Each student is allowed to express his or her own feelings without fear of mockery, intimidation, and supportive forum. Disagreements happen from time to time but they are done so in a discussion rather than an argument. The Seminars help to create a familial atmosphere in which each student feels comfortable with their colleagues and are allowed to be themselves. Please contact me if you are interested in learning how this might work in your classroom.

  12. I teach high school digital citizenship. I showed a video from common sense media from Friday Night Lights. We talked about that experience. We then read an article about bullying and prevention. I had the students create sketchnotes of what they learned in the article. We printed them in color and hung them on the wall at school to raise awareness. I always remind my students to be kind when posting. I ask them if it is kind or necessary and if not, they should not post.

  13. Even thought we’re closing out October’s Bully Prevention Month, it’s never a bad time to talk about this. I really like the broken up grade level approaches in the Cyberbulling Toolkit because as the into stays, these unfortunate events happen before high school and middle school too. I’ve already printed out the poster and have it ready to hang in my room to have as a constant reminder too.

  14. I myself do not have a classroom to teach about cyber bullying in. However, reading above and looking at the resources taught me some new information about cyber bullying. I did not realize all of the ways that bullying can occur online. This information will help me educate my own children.

  15. The idea of inviting the students into the conversation about bullying would offer them the opportunity to explore the topic as opposed to being ‘talked at’. It even seems reasonable to open a blog that asks students to reply to teacher prompts, as well as, other student responses. Also, Animoto could be used to bring anti-bullying posters to the 21st century.

  16. At Corpus Christi School we have implemented Olweus Bulling Program. Each week we have a bullying circle in each classroom. The teacher and students discuss bullying, whether it is cyber bullying, bus bullying, or bullying in the halls, bathroom, recess. There is also verbal bullying as well as physical.
    We also have boxes in the teacher classroom, where students can tell about their bullying problems privately. This is definitely a real problem in the schools and was so glad that it was addressed

  17. Sometimes I wish social media did not exist. I have seen it hurt many young people, including my own children. I watched the Shane Koyczan video and was touched by his message. Bullies exist every where and some people who are bullying don’t even realize that they are doing it. The statistics are out of control.

    • I can understand your hesitation about social media as it does seem to amplify behaviors and make them more public. That said, if it were not for social video sharing (YouTube), we would also not have heard Shane’s story or at least not in such an emotional way. Just something to think about.

  18. I cannot wait to share these resources with our teachers. With regards to digital citizenship, we clearly recognize that this cannot be a “one and done” kid of topic….we must teach it constantly. Being aware of the issues is a huge part of the solution. At the high school level, I often hear: “kids need to learn to deal with it..they’re almost adults”. For me, the fact that they are almost adults is what makes this so critical to explicitly teach and model for our students. In preparing for our 1:1 HS rollout, we are in the process of creating modules of expectations, and lesson plans for teachers to easily use in their classrooms. This is definitely something that I will use!!

  19. Unfortunately bullying of some form is happening at every grade level. I really enjoy using the Common Sense Media programs with all of my grade levels. I like that they have something for every grade level that builds upon the next. Their videos, detailed lessons, and assessment checks all make for great lessons. I recently used Brain Pop with my 5th grade class. They have a lesson on Cyber Bullying. It includes a video, quiz, vocabulary activity, game and lesson plan. After the lesson the students created a poster on Cyber Bullying that had to include a definition of what cyber bullying was, ways kids get Cyber Bullied, and what to do if they are getting Cyber Bullied. We are in the process of finishing these to then hang around the building. My 6th graders used Voki to create characters to talk about Cyber Bullying that we can share with others. They enjoyed creating the characters and sharing the message. 4th grade used with Garfield to learn about Cyber Bullying and how to deal with it. It has a fund video along with an apply it and try it section. Bullying should be addressed at every level in some form.

  20. One of the schools I am in does a lot of school-wide reading of a specific novel with culminating activities. For example, nearly 250 students (in a school of ~450) read the Divergent series and the counselor, along with the media specialist and other teachers, set up a week long schedule of activities for students during their daily IMPACT time (which is like enrichment/intervention time) that went along with the events in the series.

    This nine weeks they are reading a book about cyber bullying (but I can’t remember the title because I just happened to over hear the tail end of a conversation about it last week). These resources would be great for them so I am going to pass this along. I think they could use the statistics in their daily announcements. And the TED video would be great for kickoff!

  21. Bullying, unfortunately, hits everywhere and usually affects everyone. Students must learn to take ownership for their actions. Developing an online behavior expectation tool that is engaging and incorporates the ISTE standards is a nice start. I used Moovly to create a tool for my Virtual Academy Students. I think it is engaging, quick paced, and animated. This helps to hold their attention, while reinforcing expectations.

    • Mary,
      Thanks for the comments! Bill is our biggest advocate for digital citizenship in and around our district that I know of! How do you see using the resources here to guide a discussion in your classroom?

  22. The topic of bullying is one that is ever present. It was around when I was a student, but the only good thing was that once leaving school you didn’t have to deal with it until the next school day – at least in most cases. Today, the kids have it much tougher, with the connectedness of society today, many students have access to each other nearly 24/7. The bullying can go well beyond the school yard into the student’s bedroom. The message from Shane Koyczan was powerful. It is something that I would like to share with my students and discuss it together.

    To me stories such as Shane’s is one of the best ways to discuss the topic. For those being bullied, seeing someone who was able to make it through and use the gifts that he was given allows for them to see that they can look to the future. It can also help those who bully, realize what they say can truly cut deep and leave lasting scars on the psyche of an individual and would hopefully make them think twice about what they are saying.

    This is why I think the resource from Listen Current could be a powerful tool in combating bullying and helping those students are being bullied. I could see using these in my class to open discussion. Being a numbers guy, the statistics also jumped out at me as being a jumping off point for a discussion, though they would not be nearly as powerful for most students as stories and words from those who have experienced bullying.

  23. This is the 2nd year that I have used the Common Sense Media lesson plans in class. I think that are good and get in depth enough not to go over their heads but enough to make them think about their actions on line.

    I also have a poster that I go over with the students at the beginning of each rotation. On the poster are 7 typical stereotypes of kids: Band-Boy, Goth-Girl, Preppy, Jock, Cheerleader, Normal-Girl, and Thug-Boy. We discuss what we think each one is or isn’t a bully (both on and off line) and then we discuss the actions that would consist of being a bully. After each action we discuss if my students have ever done those actions and it is interesting what they say about when they do an action verses when someone else does the same action.

  24. The challenge about bullying brought many questions to mind…is this okay to bring up to elementary students, how do I talk about bullying without it becoming commonplace with my students, how do I emphasize to elementary students that they can make a difference in someone’s life? So, I went to my school counselor and found out answers to these questions. I was provided with many resources and and an offer to help implement strategies/lessons into my classroom. This is exciting to be able to provide my students with proactive lessons to help combat bullying. I also previewed the pbs/webonaut page and think I could implement it during computer lab time at school.

    • Glad to hear that you are looking into additional resources! As for being able to bring it up with students… This may seem like a simplistic answer, but if we don’t as educators start talking about this with our students in the primary grades, then who will? Studies show that most young students take their digital citizenship cues from older siblings and/or friends which may not be an exemplar for good choices themeselves.

      Again, glad to see that this has made it into your lessons with your students!

  25. My teaching partner and I create a respectful culture and develop our knowledge of students in two ways: Socratic Seminars based on This I Believe essays chosen by students and class discussions of TED Talk videos also chosen by the students. We have discussed issue related to bullying, racism, addiction, religion, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of laughter, music, and compliments. Freshmen and juniors handle these issues with respect and can “agree to disagree” on many of them. I’ll use Koycan’s video as the model to introduce TED Talks to my students.

  26. I was shocked to read the statistics about online bullying! Thankfully, bullying is not something that I have seen reflected in my classroom very often. However, as the above article states, even though bullying is not as large of an issue within lower grades, a bully has to start somewhere. From the day that children walk into my class, I constantly reiterate to them that Room 6 is a family and you don’t hurt or pick on your family. One year, I had a child in my room who had some social issues due to extenuating circumstances. I started off the year by explaining to my class that some children don’t have the same backgrounds and that it is always important to show compassion to one another. I was so impressed by that class. I never saw them treat that child in a cruel way and everybody was extremely tolerant of the things that child did. One of the best anti-bullying campaigns I have seen is one called “Bullying. No Way!” and is funded by the Australian government ( On their website they have tools for teachers, parents, older students, and younger students including The Allen Adventure series aimed at elementary school children. They also have an app for both Android and iPhone that shows the interactive video series as well as offers resources for parents. I was extremely impressed by their “Safe Schools Hub” that offers resources for principals and teachers on how to build a school environment that is conducive to stopping bullying. I also wanted to give Kudos to the Odyssey Community School mentioned on the Edutopia website for their work in providing a step by step program to create a bully free school.

  27. If you have not watched the Shane Koyczan video above, it is powerful!! The guy has an awesome message. This year I have a pair of students that bullying is an issue and I have had to deal with them. It has not been easy but very important to remember in our classrooms and more difficult to detect online. The message just needs to get out early and often throughout their school years.

  28. I know this article is about cyberbullying but in today’s world if someone bullies in person, they are probably also doing it online so that is why I including the following:

    I was looking at Scholastic yesterday and found a contest for Grades 3 – 6. If you have your students write a paper about bullying they will be entered into a contest where they have the chance to win 2 tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. My 15 year old Sophomore is so jealous. :) Here is the URL:

    Also, maybe I missed it but did no one think to include Teaching Tolerance? They have free DVD’s for your school on Civil Rights but also one on bullying. Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History. Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. It can become a cornerstone of anti-bullying efforts in middle and high schools.

  29. Don’t forget the non digital resources in your media center. Words Wound is a new title for our collection that promotes compassionate response and using words to help rather than to hurt.

    I know it is the Digital Challenge, but it is a worthwhile book.

  30. Thanks for including elementary students! It is so important make kids aware early on the impact they can have on one another, good or bad. The common sense site has a ton of free resources on tons of topics. Definitely one of my go to sites. I also feel modeling how to be compassionate is key. Students know if teachers truly believe what they are saying and actions speak louder than words. Be the example you want your students to be!

    The TED video gets me every time, very powerful.

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