Libraries: Tackling Cyber Bullying at School

In this week’s interview, we talk to Caroline Roche, chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) about curtailing cyber bullying and staying professional online.

‘Recently I came across an instance of cyber bullying and passed it straight on to the child protection officer. It may seem like harmless banter, just like if somebody’s just had their ruler taken in the library, but you don’t know whether it’s a one-off or a constant issue.’

Caroline Roche is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. She runs a large school library.  At lunchtime she is solely responsible for fifty or sixty boys. Bullying and other forms of inappropriate behaviour seem to be much easier now that it can be done online. Caroline has to be vigilant.

Previously there were nooks and crannies for pupils to sit and work quietly, but it was blocking sightlines and wasn’t safe. Caroline changed the room layout to be able to see all the computer screens at the same time. ‘That has lessened the chance of the children sending inappropriate things to each other.’

‘One way we discourage cyber bullying is to discuss what is appropriate and inappropriate. The other day we were talking about an American teacher who was in the news for being sacked over her Facebook statuses. Some pupils said it was OK because she was on holiday. Their teacher and I pointed out that, as professionals, we’re on duty the whole time, which made them think about what they might post.’

‘Another way of discouraging inappropriate use of technology is to show pupils how to use their iPads and phones positively, to demonstrate all the good things they can do: revision, the online library, QR codes, designing apps, things like that. It’s about a positive approach towards the technology, not just monitoring what they should not do. To do this effectively, to guide them, we need to know as much as they do.’

Edited by Professor Andy Friedman, CEO of PARN

First appeared in Newsweek, edn. 1 May 2015

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