Addressing the issue of cyber-bullying the Star Project Way!


The Star Project is the education and outreach initiative of SRC, and works with young people on a wide variety of issues that impact on their relationships. Over the past few years we have been asked to deliver workshops that look at not only the risk of exploitation through the internet, but also the damage caused by cyberbullying. Recent figures obtained from NSPCC website (Nov 2011) show that bullying affects nearly half (46%) of young people and 38% of young people have been affected by cyberbullying, with girls being twice as likely to experience persistent cyberbullying as boys.

We have developed a session which we have used in schools and with other youth organisations and have found the results to be pretty powerful. Often we would start by inviting the young people in groups to write down as many methods they could think of to get in touch with friends. We encourage them to be as creative as possible so the examples range from texting or knocking on their door to yoghurt pots and string or smoke signals. We then ask them how it would feel if they were to wake the next morning and all these communication means had vanished and weren’t available to them. Having identified emotions such as frustration, anger, fear, isolation etc. we then point out that this is how it feels to be cyberbullied. The ways we normally communicate with each other are denied to us: we dare not use the phone in case there’s a threatening text on there; we cannot go online in case we get harassed; we can’t even go out in case whoever is doing this finds us.

This exercise leads neatly into the film which we show- “Let’s Fight It Together” This film was created by and follows the experience of a boy called Joe at a secondary school who gets cyberbullied by people within his own friendship group, and illustrates a lot of the themes brought up from the initial activity. We then follow up the film by discussing the main points in the film (e.g. what stops someone from asking for help, is it a good idea to delete texts or email messages etc). We end the session by handing everyone a free key-pen which has our contact details on (who doesn’t like a freebie!), and a form with a computer screen on it, where we ask each person to write an imaginary email to Joe. The responses we get from this are overwhelmingly positive and range from what they would do in his shoes, offers of friendship and hope or how they themselves have gotten through similar situations. This session helps to reframe the issue of cyberbullying from something bad that other people might do or a less harmful form of bullying, to a more pernicious, destructive attack that can have devastating consequences to those caught up in it.

To get a flavour of these sessions please take time to view the film by clicking "Let's Fight It Together", and afterwards read through some of the responses we have received from the young people who have taken part.

Sample Feedback:

“It's ok, it doesn't matter what people think because they will just be jealous of you when you get a good job and live a better life” (f 11)

“Dear Joe, I know what it feels like to be bullied and it's not great, once I thought about committing suicide but I didn't because I talked to someone. You should do the same” (f 11)

“It's ok to tell people or teachers, you might think people will pick on you more but it will make things better. Just remember you're not alone” (f 12)

“Joe don't be scared to tell people because if you don't it may get worse. People can help” (f 11)

“Joe, ignore bullies and tell teacher. I'm 12 years old and I want to be your mate. I hope we can” (m 12)

“How ever hard life is carry on and talk to someone” (m 12)

“Hope you get well soon Joe. Contact me if you need help 'cause I'm nice like that :)” (f 12)

“Well done for being brave and getting through your troubles” (m 12)

“To Joe, you are probably wondering why I am writing to you, I'm only going to give you advice. Even though it is really bad, don't give up on hope just because they're bullying you, tell somebody” (f 12)

“Joe, I know you have been having some problems including cyberbullying, now cyberbullying doesn't seem it but it is very serious. Anyway you can always get help from parents, school teachers and police- remember that” (f 12)

“Dear Joe, I know what you're going through. Just talk to someone and just ignore the email and text messages and just try to forget about it, they're just jealous of you” (m 11)

Article provided by Southampton Rape Crisis - September 2012

Southampton rape Crisis - Specialist Services Responding to Sexual Violence

For more information contact us today on 023 8063 6312 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Helpline: 023 8063 6313.

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