Family Resources on Cyberbullied Shoes
Students practice empathy by considering more than one side of a story.
How does looking at something from a target’s point of view affect the way we think about cyberbullying?
Cyberbullied Shoes – Ryan
If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed the effects of bullying, cyberbullying and suicide. In class students discussed how cyberbullying can be harmful and lead to disastrous consequences for the target of bullying and those who care about that person. In small groups students participated in an exercise where they had to “stand in another’s shoes” to teach empathy for someone who is targeted by bullying behaviors.
Getting Ready for the Conversation
The video for this module features Ryan who was a target of cyberbullying and committed suicide after enduring many instances of bullying behavior. Members of his family discuss how Ryan’s death affected them and what they have done since to prevent this from happening to other families. In Ryan’s case the students who participated in the bullying behaviors used an internet connected computer as their primary method of targeting Ryan.
Discussing bullying behavior and suicide are very difficult, but these issues continue to affect younger and younger students. Ryan’s parents were computer savvy and had specific rules and expectations about computer use. Despite this several students at Ryan’s school engaged in bullying behaviors while Ryan was at home where his parents believed he was safe.
Please note that when discussing issues of bullying it is helpful not to use the terms “victim” and “bully”. A person should not be defined by these learned behaviors. Instead, when discussing bullying we recommend using terms such as “targeted by bullying behaviors” and “participating in bullying behaviors” to focus on the behavior, not the person as a whole.
“What Parents Should Know About Bullying” from the National Bullying Prevention Center:
Two articles about the complicated connection between bullying behaviors and suicide. From the US Department of Health and Human Services:
A similar article by Dr. Sara Gorman and Dr. Jack M. Gorman:
Constructive Conversation Starters
The first item is for follow-up after viewing the lesson video and participating in class activities.
What were some of the descriptions you and your group came up with during the “cyberbullied shoes” exercise? Why did these description/these descriptions become meaningful for you? Describe why Ryan’s parents thought Ryan was safe at home.
What are the ways that someone who wants to participate in bullying behavior use internet connected devices or social media to target another person? Why would someone use internet connected devices instead of engaging in bullying behavior in person?
Why do you think some people engage in bullying behavior? What would someone gain or believe about themselves when they engage in bullying behavior?
Do you think there is a problem with people lacking empathy for others? Why or why not? If someone feels empathy for another person would that person engage in bullying behaviors? Why or why not?
Are the rules and expectations for using internet connected devices adequate to keep all members of this family safe? Why or why not? Discuss options and changes if necessary.
How much of a problem is child and adolescent suicide? How can we make sure that everyone in the family and community is safe? What actions might be necessary? Why?
School to Home Resources on Cyberbullied Shoes
Bullying can happen anywhere
Ryan’s mother says, “bullying doesn’t stop at the threshold of the home it comes right into their bedroom”. Ryan’s mother knew about bullying at school, why do you think she believes that bullying is a bigger problem because of the internet? What advice would you suggest for a parent who grew up at a time when cyberbullying was not common?
Can words hurt?
All the members of Ryan’s family talk about his sense of humor and his mother says, “although he was very happy, he was very sensitive, words could hurt him very easily”. What does she mean about words being hurtful? Is it possible that words could hurt someone? Why or why not?
How does technology enable bullies?
Ryan’s father says, “kids have realized that this is a tool they can use to further advance those nasty campaigns that they started during the school day, there’s nothing more powerful than being able to get online and post it on a website for the rest of the school to read”. Why would Ryan’s father be so concerned about the number of other students that could read or see the bullying content? How does the crowd a bully attracts encourage someone to keep bullying? How is it easier to spread bullying comments or rumors about someone using internet technology?
Taking threats seriously
Ryan’s older sister Megan says, “a couple of days before he died, he did take my bathroom sash and put it around his neck-he was pretending to choke himself because he was mad about something…it never crossed my mind that he would actually do something like that”. Why do you think Megan is willing to talk about such an event? If Megan was a friend of yours and told you that story, what would you tell her about how to help her brother?