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Teaching Kindness to Put a Stop to Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying, as the name suggests, is bullying that takes place online. It can involve insults or threats of violence like world bullying, but it can also include sharing malicious images or videos, excluding someone from online chats or games, or even impersonating other people online to cause problems for the victim. 

It can have an even more damaging impact than real-world bullying, because:

  • It can be anonymous. Cyberbullies can hide behind fake profiles or even pretend to be several people at once, so it can be difficult to know who’s behind it. 

  • It can happen 24/7. Cyberbullying takes place on social networks, in video games and through online chats, meaning it can be very hard to escape from it.

  • There’s a degree of separation. Because cyberbullies are on the other end of a screen, they can feel less empathy for the people they’re bullying.

According to a report by anti-bullying charity ‘Ditch the Label’, one in five young people was a victim of bullying in the past year, and the rise of lockdown has created more opportunities for cyberbullying as pupils have been forced to spend more time online. According to another anti-bullying charity, The Diana Award, say the start of lockdown saw a massive increase in the number of people calling their hotline. 

With all this in mind, it’s clear that we need to do more to raise the profile of kindness in the curriculum. Here’s why...

Kindness is good for us

It always feels good when others are kind to us, but being the one who does something kind can have measurable effects on our mental (and physical) health. Doing something selfless can give you a ‘helper’s high by releasing chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin into our brains. These chemicals can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve mood and memory, even lower blood pressure and protect the immune system.

Kindness makes people popular

It’s nice to be nice, but there’s also a more selfish reason to be kind to others - research has shown that it can make children more popular among their peers. Humans are hardwired to be social creatures and help each other out, and we tend to gravitate towards people that we see being helpful around us.

Kindness can be taught

Children are like sponges: they absorb everything they see, hear and feel in the world around them. So if we want them to internalise kindness and empathy, the best way is to incorporate it throughout the timetable. Here are just a few ways you can do that:

  • Notice kindness. Recognise when pupils say and do kind things to each other, and praise them in front of the rest of the class. In Natterhub, you can do this by boosting posts on the news feed.

  • Chart kindness. Instead of putting pupils’ names on the board for forgetting their PE kit or finishing their homework, make a tally of the number of times each pupil shows kindness. You can award badge power on Natterhub to give children a record of their good deeds.  

  • Model kindness. Lead by example, and show your pupils what kindness looks like when you interact with them, their parents, or other staff members at school.

  • Start a kindness project. Find a way of spreading a little love to the local community. Start a pen-pal programme with a care home in your area, or organise a drive to donate to a local food bank.

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