Anyone who spends any time on the internet these days has probably heard something about cyberbullying. As more and more ways to communicate virtually become available, and as the internet becomes more and more accessible, cyberbullying has become a huge problem. It is difficult at times to walk the line between giving kids privacy and access to information and keeping them safe. I think the library can play a role in spreading awareness of cyberbullying, as well as providing tips for its prevention.
The library, where students go to learn how to analyze information and be respectful, responsible digital citizens, is the perfect place to host an anti-bullying community event. I think an event like this would be a great way for students to practice some of their information and digital literacy skills, be creative, and learn about how to be respectful, responsible, and ethical on the internet.
In my library, this event would take the form of an arts showcase, giving the students the opportunity to take ownership and teach others about this subject. The PACER Center’s information sheet on putting on an anti-bullying event suggests having a poster contest as one of the activities. I would like to take this a step further, and allow the students to decide what they would like to create and present. The librarian could do brief mini-lessons on creating short videos, making infographics, etc., and students could then choose to create a PSA on cyberbullying, an infographic on respectful online behavior, or something less tech-heavy, like a poem or song.
Then, at the event, following a brief welcome and presentation by the librarian or administrator including a few important tips for parents, the students would be the stars of the show, having the opportunity to screen their videos, perform their poems, or showcase their artwork. This doesn’t have to be a contest, but rather a way for students to show off their great work while also educating the community about cyberbullying. There could also be snacks and drinks, like a real gallery showing, to make the students feel like they are a part of something special.
Cyberbullying is a growing problem, and the only way to solve it is to make sure everyone in the community is aware of what it is and how to be respectful online. The library is a great place to raise awareness of this problem, give students a voice, and even practice information literacy skills.