ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media 

How Social Workers can fight Cyberbullying

NASW BullyingRena Malai, member of the news staff of the American National Association of Social Workers (NASW), shared her thoughts about on- and offline bullying. Here are the statements I find most interesting:

„Whether bullying is done online or in person, it’s an area in which social workers are well suited and trained to help“

is a quote from NASW member Gary McDaniel, who also emphasizes that

„We as social workers can begin by using accurate data to assess bullies and the stigma of bullying.“

A longer part of the article focusses on Cyberbullying and the ideas of Jonathan Singer which I think are so useful that I repost this part here:

In cyberspace

Like offline bullying, cyberbullying consists of repeated acts that are intended to cause harm, Singer said. A cyberbully can easily access social media — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even text — to find targets.

“If I posted something on your Facebook wall and it generates comments, reposts and likes, it’s as if a thousand different people are saying the same thing at once,” Singer said. “Twenty or 30 texts can be sent in a row, harassing and saying intimidating things. It can all be anonymously done so the bully feels safe.”

Because the Internet is where many kids and young adults live, deleting a Facebook account to stop the attacks isn’t always an easy option, he said.

“If you think about this idea of digital natives, the Internet has always been a part of their life,” Singer said. “Their personal identity online is who they are. Telling them to delete their Facebook account is like deleting their identity — and it’s ultimate confirmation the bully won.”

Becoming familiar with technology is something social workers can do to address the problem of cyberbullying, he said.

“Become aware of technology used in cyberbullying so you can have informed conversations,” he said. “Know what Facebook is, what a wall post is, privacy settings, a tweet, etc. Work with parents, particularly in schools, on policies and guidelines to cyberbullying behavior.”

Through his research, Singer said he has surprisingly found that the best action is often to do nothing at all. And he said it’s important to help victims of cyberbullying understand that this can have a dramatic effect on a bully.

“Bullying is about power — respond from a position of power,” Singer said. “Do nothing as a response; the cyberbully loses power. Or responding once with something like ‘what you’re saying isn’t working and it’s pathetic’ can drain the cyberbully’s power.”

Reading what Jonathan says about Cyberbulling I think he would agree with the 6 Theses from the Cyberwork Conference on What Social Worker Should Know in a Digitized Society I recently posted here.

The article from Rena ends with a quote from Tracy Whitaker, director of  the NASW Center for Workforce Studies & Social Work Practice, that gets to the heart of it:

„Social workers can help guide children, parents and teachers through the complexities of cyberbullying.“

Read the full article and find links to  anti-bullying resources social workers can explore via Social work methods help diffuse conflicts.


One comment on “How Social Workers can fight Cyberbullying

  1. Pingback: The MIT Works on Technology to End Cyberbullying [VIDEO] | MOBILE SOCIAL WORK

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Lutz Siemer

Lutz Siemer

Education, Research & Development in Social Work & IT After working as an alternative practitioner and psychotherapist in private practice for nearly ten years I stepped over to higher education in 2005. At Saxion University of Applied Sciences I lecture and do research and development in the area of Social Work, Psychology and IT. Currently I'm focussing on merging mobile technology and social work.

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