Journal review by Ilya Nikitin

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    Citation: Couvillon, Michael A., and Vessela Ilieva. “Recommended Practices: A Review of Schoolwide Preventative Programs and Strategies on Cyberbullying.” Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth 55.2 (2011): 96-101. Web. 7 Nov. 2012.

    “Recommended Practices: A Review of Schoolwide Preventative Programs and Strategies on Cyberbullying” presents the problem of cyberbullying among school age students, which the authors, Couvillon and Ilieva, recommends a schoolwide approach involving all stakeholders: students, teachers and parents in its prevention. The increased access and use of web based communication are part of what attributes to the problem. The authors contend that cyberbullying preventative programs focused at the school level will have the strongest effect in addressing the problem. By taking an ongoing, widespread approach and engaging multiple resources and participants in cyberbullying prevention programs it is hoped that the benefits will carry through a student’s career and beyond. Based on extensive research on literature on cyberbullying the authors review strategies for cyberbullying prevention programs. The authors conclude that cyberbullying prevention programs must become a priority for schools given the behavioral destress caused by cyberbullying which, in some cases, has led to suicide.

    While cyberbullying roots remain in traditional bullying, complexities such as the possibility of anonymity, a large digitally connected audience and increased popularity of social network has added a new dimension to bullying. Cyberbullying can occur at any time and research indicates it is more prevalent outside of schools hours.

    The specific areas identified for investigation are:

    1. The challenges of cyberbullying and the role of the school in its prevention.
    2. Recent literature proposing approaches for schools to address cyberbullying.
    3. Steps for addressing cyberbullying.
    4. A model for cyberbullying prevention.
    5. Designing, implementation and sustaining a cyberbullying program.

    Written in 2011, the author drew together a collection of research on cyberbullying including the complexities and the challenges it presents, the role of schools, teachers, law enforcement and the community. Included in the scope was the importance of a collaborative effort in creating awareness, communication, teaching appropriate behaviours and models of digital citizenship. From this, the authors recommended steps for addressing cyberbullying and a model prevention plan. Considering current literature on the topic, it appears the problem has not changed since the date of the article and the recommendations put forward are consistent with current recommendations. Interestingly, the authors recommend not to ban the use of electronic devices in schools as students will have access outside of schools rendering the ban ineffective. Further research, outside of this article, reveals a study conducted in 2009 which concluded that the specific strategy students viewed as effective in deterring offenders was the penalty that restricted his or her internet and technology use. By removing access to the internet and technology teenagers would feel isolated as their primary means of communication is severed (Kraft & Wang, 2009). This intervention would involve a joint effort on the part of the school and parents. As suggested in the article and noted in additional research, strategies which have been proven to reduce the incident of traditional bullying in schools can be used to reduce incidents of cyberbullying. However, research is needed (Campbell, 2005). The article remains as relevant today as it was then.

    The title of the article gives the reader a clear and concise expectation of what is to follow. The literature on cyberbullying is well researched and referenced. This paves the way for the authors to recommend steps for addressing cyberbullying and a model for prevention based on their research. The recommendation of ongoing efforts in engaging all stakeholders, communication and training along with implementation and sustainability in mind when designing a program describes best practice when deploying any program. This makes for a very credible read. In the opening lines of the article the authors make reference to research which shows that prevention programs focused on the school level will have the strongest effect. However, there is no clear evidence of research to support this reference in the article. Similarly, in the conclusion, the authors state “by focusing on cyberbullying prevention efforts at the school level , it is hopeful that what is learned will positively affects students’ actions at school and at home.” This leads the reader to seek solid empirical support that behaviours at home are similar to behaviours at school. The authors conclude that cyberbullying prevention programs should be prioritized. Given the seriousness of cyberbullying and the possibility of devastating consequences, the tone of the article did not reflect a sense of urgency nor an immediate call to action. Cases of suicide as a consequence of cyberbullying were quoted in the article which illustrated the need for an urgent call to action.

    This article, along with a review of other research, refers to the anonymity of the offender being one of the challenges of cyberbullying. However, is anybody ever completely anonymous whilst maintaining an online presence? What about the responsibility of the social networking sites? While users need to be responsible in their usage of these sites, service providers need to create a platform which fosters a safe and healthy online social community. In 2013, it was reported that 9 teenage suicides in the last year were linked to cyberbullying on the social network site (Edwards, 2013). At that time it was reported that the site had virtually no privacy settings and no real identity controls. Following public outcry, introduced safety controls in line with other social networking sites. More can be done by the service providers to address the problem. For example, social networking sites can market themselves as bully free zones. In 2002, the Canadian community of Cochrane, Alberta officially proclaimed itself as “A Community striving to be Bully-free”. This proclamation was displayed at all four town entrances and in all schools. Social network sites have created a platform to build a community and therefore must ensure adequate controls are in place to ensure its digital citizens engage in appropriate social behaviour built on respect and decency. In 2012 it was reported that more than 10 percent of parents around the word said their child was being cyberbullied (Michaud, 2012). Therefore, is this not a global problem that requires a global solution?


    Campbell, M. A., 2005. Cyber bullying:An old problem in a new guise?. Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 15(1), pp. 68-76.

    Edwards, J., 2013. Users On This Web Site Have Successfully Driven Nine Teenagers To Kill Themselves. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 04 November 2015].

    Kraft, E. M. & Wang, J., 2009. Effectiveness of Cyber bullying Prevention Strategies: A Study on Students’ Perspectives. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 3(2), pp. 513-53.
    Michaud, C., 2012. Cyberbullying a problem around the globe: poll. [Online]
    Available at:
    [Accessed 04 November 2015].

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