Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cyberbullying: scenarios

Instructions on how to use these scenarios 

These scenarios are designed to be used with students to start skill-building conversations or with teachers for professional learning.

Using these scenarios in professional learning situations

  • Cut the individual cards out and discuss the scenarios using the questions as a basis for discussion.
  • Work in groups and identify where in the curriculum students can be taught skills to protect them from this risk.
  • Use the scenarios for parent information evenings to build parent skills and knowledge.

Using these scenarios with students

  • Give students scenarios to read, either in groups or individually.
  • Students look at the scenario from the character's perspective and answer the questions provided.
  • Once the students have read the scenario ask them to reflect on their own skills in managing this type of risk online.

Scenario 1: That’s mean

Name: Thanh

Age: 7

Thanh has been sharing videos of his cake creations on his parents’ YouTube account. He and his parents decided it would be safe because YouTube doesn’t allow comments on videos featuring kids under the age of 13. However, some children in his class posted links to his videos in a Google doc and are making mean comments on it.

What should Thanh do? 

Possible responses:

  • Thanh should report the content to his teacher or an ‘askable or trusted adult’. 
  • Thanh could talk to someone he feels safe with and discuss what to do next.
  • Thanh could ask his parents to remove the videos from YouTube.
  • Thanh could ask the students in his class to remove the mean comments. 

Teachers can help Thanh and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • teaching strategies that students can use when they feel uncomfortable or need help with a situation
  • explicitly including online safety in lessons on friendship and relationships
  • teaching technical skills to take screenshots of bullying comments
  • ensuring all students understand how to report and manage cyberbullying incidents
  • communicating information about how to access counselling to discuss strategies for self-care e.g. Kids Helpline, Parentline. 

Scenario 2: WhatsApp

Name: Kobe

Age: 7

A group of students in Kobe’s class have been invited to join the same WhatsApp group. At first, it was to chat about a soccer game, but the students enjoyed using WhatsApp. Soon it seemed like everyone was in the chat. Kobe wasn't asked, and a friend showed him a message posted in the group which said 'Kobe is a cry baby. No one let him in the chat.'

How could Kobe’s friends help him?

Suggested responses:

  • His friends could send Kobe an encouraging direct message.
  • His friends could encourage the group to include Kobe for example they could say: ‘Kobe comes up with great ideas for projects. Let’s include him.’

Teachers can help Kobe and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • discussing social media age restrictions and the benefits and risks of using social media
  • explicitly including online safety in lessons on relationships and wellbeing
  • working with students in the class to include other students online and offline
  • discussing how students can access support if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their teacher e.g. Kids Helpline, a school counsellor.

Scenario 3: Image-based abuse or cyberbullying

Name: Amy

Age: 15

Amy broke up with Joe (16 years old) a few months ago. Joe says he is really upset and can't get over her. Even though Amy has asked him to give her some space, he sends her direct messages on social all the time. Amy is shocked when Joe sends her some nude images taken of her when they were in a relationship. He doesn't include a message with the photos. (Source: YeS project)

How can Amy and Joe get support?

Suggested responses:

  • Amy could use Youth Law Australia to get information about sexting laws in their state.
  • Amy could talk to a trusted adult or teacher about the situation and problem solve how to get support.
  • Amy could report any issues to the social media company first, if she feels she needs help - she can use The eSafety guide to find out how. See eSafety's reporting pages for advice, support and FAQs.
  • Amy might ask a teacher/counsellor to help her report the issue. eSafety’s guide to explicit images in schools provides specific guidance for schools on how to do this safely. 
  • Amy could contact the eSafety image-based abuse team (for complaints about sharing nude images without consent) or the cyberbullying team (for complaints about posts that seriously harass, threaten, humiliate or intimidate). The teams work together closely, so if Amy is unsure about the category they will help her work it out. They can assist with liaising with social media companies, as well as providing advice and referrals to support services. 
  • Joe could explore eSafety young people to get strategies to help him take action to turn the situation around.  

Teachers can help Amy, Joe and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • including online examples in lessons on respectful relationships, consent and wellbeing
  • ensuring all students understand social media standards and the consequence for misuse even in private communications
  • ensuring all students understand how to report an online safety issue to the social media company and when to escalate to the eSafety Commissioner. See eSafety's reporting pages for advice, support and FAQs.
  • helping all students know where to go for help if they have been called a bully or shared an intimate image without someone's consent
  • promoting appropriate counselling and support services to all students. 

Cyberbullying scenarios