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Teaching Guide

Teaching PBIS: Cyberbullying

Shocker: we're against it.


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2cool4u: hey guess what
shmoopkid08: what
2cool4u: your dumb

Okay, so that was a relatively tame example of cyberbullying. (Not to mention a relatively cringe-worthy show of grammar.) But in today's internet-connected world, cyberbullying is a serious problem. Shmoop is here to help you and your students identify and cope with cyberbullies and their damaging effects—no mad hacking skills necessary.

In this guide you will find

  • resources on cyberbullying prevention and current laws regarding cyberbullying.
  • a poster-making activity to help build awareness and encourage students to speak up.
  • discussion questions to encourage your students to talk about cyberbullying not just online, but in person, too.

With this guide in hand, you and your students will learn that cyberbullies can be anyone—and cyberbullying can happen to anyone. A word of warning: We're going to be talking about some pretty sensitive stuff here, so always remember to be super careful with the way you approach these conversations. Here at Shmoop, we're the first to admit we love a good joke, but that's probably not appropriate here. Your students will thank you for it.



Assuming you're like us and the Internet these days is a different beast from when you were in high school, we're at a little bit of a disadvantage as to this particular type of peer-abuse and its effects on our students. Today's class, your students (and you) will get a general overview of the topic.

Before you get started, here's a video you can show to your class.

Key Skills and Learning Objectives

  • Define cyberbullying
  • Understand the various characteristics of cyberbullying
  • Begin to take a stance on cyberbullying


  • Yesterday: There was no homework. Yippee.
  • Today: Prepare a short presentation on one type of cyberbullying.


Materials Needed: Internet access through the library or computer lab, handout (distributed at the start of class), pens

Estimated Time to Complete: 50 minutes


When I say "cyberbullying" what comes to mind? [Let students respond. Write some of their responses on the board.] Let's find out what it means, literally. Use your favorite online dictionary to find the definitions of "cyber" and "bully" and write them down.

Sometimes it's a little difficult to wrap our minds around a particular word, like bully, because we might think it means only one thing or looks only one way. So let's get a bigger picture. Write down some synonyms for bully in a notebook or on a sheet of paper. Feel free to use your online dictionary.

What are some actions we associate with bullies? [Call on students. Answers could include harassment, torment, beating up, annoying, hurting, etc.] Now which actions do we connect to cyberbullies? [The trick here is to help students differentiate between psychological and physical harm.]


So, we've figured out what the dictionary has to say about cyberbullying, but what does it look like in the real world? What have you seen? [Pause for examples.]

Let's jot some of this down. First, where does all this take place? [Allow time for comments and for students to write down answers, which might include: Internet, phones, photos, videos, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), email, texts, comment feeds, etc.]

Next, I'm going to show you some things online. You pick out the cyberbullying. [Go through each example pair and ask students to identify which is cyberbulling and explain how they can tell. They should circle their answers on their handout, too.]

  1. Example 1
    Example 2
  2. Example 1
    Example 2
  3. Example 1
    Example 2

Okay, so we know now a little bit about what cyberbullying looks like, but why would anyone do it in the first place? [Let students brainstorm and write their answers on the board. Possible answers include: it's easy, people want to boost their egos, they have low self-esteem, it makes them feel powerful, they want to be cool, etc.] Write some of these answers down on your handout. What would make cyberbullying easier than, say, physical bullying? [Let students respond. Answers might be along these lines: you can remain anonymous, you don't have to be physically strong, you can spread rumours really quickly and permanently, people are always on their phones or connected to technology, and it's not obvious—people don't always know it's going on.] What people don't know, however, is that there can be serious consequences to cyberbullying, and I don't just mean the legal stuff.  


To give your students a more complete picture of what cyberbullying is, put them in pairs or groups of three and assign them one of the following topics:

  • cyber stalking
  • humiliation
  • harassment
  • impersonation
  • use of photos flaming
  • texting
  • password theft
  • website creating
  • PC virus attacks
  • proxy attacks (or getting someone else to bully for you…)

Their assignment is twofold: They need to look up the definition of the type of cyberbullying they've been assigned and then find a real-life example. They will present these to the class the next day (two-three minutes) when we look at what cyberbullying looks like. Also, feel free to let students suggest types of cyberbullying that aren't on the list. (We tried to be comprehensive but technology keeps growing.)


  1. What do you think causes a person to want to bully?
  2. What makes cyberbullying different from physical bullying?
  3. Where can cyberbullying take place?
  4. What kinds of things can you do if you see cyberbullying happening?
  5. Is there any information you think it might be good to not put online?
  6. Have you ever felt tempted to retaliate or say something mean back when someone's sent you a mean or threatening message?
  7. Have you ever met strangers online? How do you know if they are safe?
  8. Have you ever given your passwords to anyone before?
  9. What do you know about privacy settings on social media? Could you teach someone about them or are they a totally new idea to you?
  10. When do you think it's a good idea to block someone?