Cyber-bullying: the damage to youngsters



Before we start:

A Webquest is a discovery tour, where the learner is his/her own guide! You decide where you will go to find results. Often, more than one answer is OK!


More than other Webquests, this one is less about facts and more about opinions and feelings: these are never wrong! All people are entitled to have opinions and feelings they do not have to defend. The general goal of this Webquest for you is to enhance your awareness of differences between people. Your quest makes you see that minorities in society are at greater risk of being bullied than “mainstream” groups (whatever they are).

In the old days (before the internet) people could only be bullied face to face or in letters sent by (snail-)mail. When someone would yell nasty things about you with nobody present, you could not be hurt. The only way for bullying someone anonymously was by telling others (friends, classmates) nasty things about that person, i.e., by gossiping, or by sending a letter without sender information. That has changed: people can use the internet to smear someone in the eyes of others (friends, classmates) or address that person directly. In both cases they have the choice of doing this openly or with their identity hidden. That is an essential feature of cyber-bullying: the option to stay anonymous when threatening, smearing or offending others.


Let’s start with a definition of cyber-bullying:

Cyberbullying is the process of continuous, targeted negative online messaging about a person or a well-identified group of people by someone or a group of persons sharing the same opinions or prejudices about the victim or victims. Let’s look at some terms in this definition:

  • Process: this means that the action or series of actions is planned with a purpose in mind
  • Continuous: actions go on overtime. Calling someone an ugly name only once does not count as cyber-bullying. Note that when the action is picked up and continued by others, it automatically becomes bullying. Example: someone publishes a nude photograph of a person on a social platform only once, but obviously to elicit reactions from others, then even before other people pass the photo on and comment, it is already cyber-bullying, because the intention of posting the photograph is to get other people involved.
  • Targeted: the actions are aimed at someone specifically, well recognizable for others, maybe because of specific characteristics (being homosexual, coloured, disabled, etc.).


We want you to think about the importance of cyber-bullying, by looking into several aspects:

  • who does it and why?
  • who becomes a victim and why?
  • what kind of individual damage is caused and for how long?
  • What are the effects of hate between groups and how long will that last?
  • Are the actions secretly or openly supported? By whom?


It is best to work in groups, preferably of 3-4 learners, but if you have a strong preference, you can ask your teacher if you can work alone. The group you work with should be an environment in which you feel safe and comfortable. If that is not the case, it is recommendable to work alone or change group membership. Consult your teacher about his, if necessary.

This Webquest may take 3 to 5 whole days, or it could be spread out over several weeks, a few hours a day. That’s up to you and/or your teacher.


  1. Do you know a case of cyber-bullying that happened close to you (your class, school, sports club, scouting)? Are you able and willing to describe it? Please do if you can or think of another example. You can start working on this assignment by looking at news items in your local newspaper or regional TV station for example, as in the footnote[1].
  2. Perhaps you have already worked on the Webquest concerning Twitter, a social platform that offers abundant opportunities for cyber-bullying, just like Facebook, Instagram or online messaging platforms, like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Look for examples and reports that clearly demonstrate how cyberbullying works and describe the process.
  3. It has been reported that bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment also happen in the work environment between professionals (even among teachers!). Look for examples of being cyber-bullied or harassed otherwise by colleagues; use search engines and try to come up with appropriate terms for searching (discuss them in your group). Is there any bullying on the economic online platform for professionals LinkedIn? Look for evidence and tell the story in one A4.
  4. Some people say: “Words don’t hurt, nobody can be harmed by a spoken or written offense or even a threat, as long as there is no physical violence involved.” Do you think that spoken words cannot harm anyone? Have you or anyone in your group experienced verbal harassment? How did that make you or this person feel?
    Now let’s widen the approach: look for articles in magazines or other information about the psychological effects of cyber-bullying. Discuss these findings in your group and write a joint or personal opinion.
  5. In certain cases of suicides by youngsters (cyber-)bullying was identified as the underlying cause: the victim was reportedly suffering so much from being exposed in a certain way, that stepping out of life seemed the only solution to that victim. Can you imagine someone thinking of suicide because of bullying? What would you say to that person if you knew how desperate he/she was?
  6. Under item a) you described a case of cyber-bullying. Do you have an idea why the victim was chosen by the bullying person? Did he or she have certain characteristics to be suitable for becoming a victim? In what way was the victim hurt? Do you know or can you imagine consequences for the victim and the offender? Do you know the final outcome of the incident, and do you consider this satisfactory?


[1]     Just an example (in Dutch): 

  1. Has cyber-bullying appeared in the regional or national news in the last month? Name the media that reported on this and tell in your own words what happened. If you can’t find anything as recent as this, does that mean the problem is fading away?
  2. Look on the internet for some websites featuring regional and national initiatives against bullying. Select one of these and describe the goals and activities. Is there anything that you think they could do better?

Above you see the front page of a publication on bullying that was published by the Ministry of Education of the Australian state New South Wales (including the City of Sydney). Here’s the link to the pdf: 

The document also provides elements for a definition.


    • involves repeated actions
    • is intended to cause distress or harm
    • is grounded in an imbalance of power

Do you understand this definition? Is it better than the one above? Is the text addressing pupils? Can you find a recommended approach or anti-bullying method in that pdf document that could be appealing to you and your peers?


  1. Cyberbullying is not only a problem in your own country, as you can tell from the Australian document: it happens everywhere. As you know Facebook has users all over the world, at the moment more than 2.5 billion (that’s one-third of the world population!). Have a look at this website: and summarize the main conclusions that are presented (max. one page).
  2. The figures below describe bullying among school pupils in the USA. These data point to massive damage that could be inflicted on the victims. Do you think that bullying is more or less the same in your own country? Explain. If you don’t think so, explain as well. Are there different opinions in your group? Describe at what point the group is divided.


  1. On the website referred to under c) some legislation is discussed, meant to reduce incidents of cyber-bullying, as well as forms of punishment for offenders. No legislation or preventive measures are mentioned for the EU. Restrict your research to your own country and find out what the government or national platforms are doing in terms of laws and other measures to prevent cyber-bullying and punish offenders.
    Could or should authorities do more?
  2. Look at your own town or village and especially at your school: what kind of measures are put in place to prevent cyber-bullying, to reduce negative effects for victims (if it happens anyway) and punish the offenders. Do you feel the management of your school is doing enough to protect or help their pupils? Where can you find help if you would become a victim? Is that good enough for you or would you prefer help from somewhere else, like parents, friends, a doctor or another external expert?
  3. Question: in case of a cyber-bullying incident, is the first priority to apprehend the offender(s) and perhaps to carry out swift procedures leading to penalties and (hopefully) prevention of similar events in the future, or should the first priority be to take care of the victim and to help this person to overcome negative effects? Can both aspects be taken care of in one, overall procedure, for instance in the approach that’s designed for your school?
  1. Is there any anti-bullying initiative in your school or the place (city, village) where you live? Did you ever consider joining that action, or are you already participating? Why?
  2. What does the management of your school do regarding this subject? Is there a document describing the approach and providing protocols for dealing with incidents? Describe the anti-bullying approach of your school in your own words. Does it offer adequate help to the victim, does it include prevention measures, does it refer to anti-bullying initiatives? Should the school do more, or is that the responsibility of teachers and pupils? Are your parents aware of what the school does with regard to (cyber-)bullying?
  3. According to the website mentioned above, Facebook started to work on the issue some years ago: “In 2013, Facebook launched its dedicated Bullying Prevention Hub that was developed in partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.” What is a “hub” and what does this specific “hub” do or offer? Is it effective?
  4. Look for internet-based initiatives (websites) dealing with cyber-bullying. List at least 4 of these and select the most effective or most visited one. Why is this one more effective or more often visited than the others? Which of these would you consult if you ever became a victim of cyber-bullying (which hopefully never happens)?

  5. (Only for Dutch pupils, to be adapted in other languages with a national example.) The link below leads to a website where signals of bullying are described. They help you and others to be aware of bullying when it occurs.

Download the pdf and have a good look at it.

Do you understand the elements of this signalling chart? Is the text attractive to pupils? Do you think it is helpful to you and your peers? Can you identify in this text an approach or an anti-bullying method that is recommended, or is the chart restricted to guidelines?


  1. Here are two links to “official” Dutch initiatives to combat (cyber-)bullying:





Your task may look easier than it actually is: compare the websites and give both a score for the overall effectiveness (of the content) and attractiveness (of phrasing and layout).


All your sources can be internet-based: websites, social media, Wikipedia and any other online place where relevant information is stored. However, you may also use paper-based information: newspapers, books and documents in the local or school library or wherever you find them.

Make sure you check your sources: news media may publish “coloured” information in order to attract certain categories of readers. The same applies to other media.

Whatever your source of information is, mention it. You don’t need to be objective, although that would be highly appreciated. Everything you say is OK, if your line of reasoning and the evidence you use, is transparent. Other people should be able to check your findings. That is the basic rule in science: data and reasoning must be transparent.

This is also where science and journalism go separate ways …


What did you learn about bullying and cyber-bullying? What’s the difference between these two? Did you know about bullying in its various forms already before you started to work on this Webquest?

Did this Webquest change your ideas about (cyber-)bullying and the importance of that issue? Did it perhaps change you? If so, how?

After working on these tasks: what is the knowledge or the opinions you will take along with you? What do you think about fighting against and preventing bullying? Do you share the worries about the damage it can do?

Rating your results

The table below shows how the teacher will evaluate the results of your work. We advise that you sit together (you or your group with the teacher) and go through the remarks that were made during the evaluation. Joint evaluation can also be done in a full classroom setting, provided that the whole class has worked on the same Webquest.




not bad



Assignment 1: Assess the problem

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you hardly worked on the questions

You provided only a few background data with minimal comments to show the seriousness of the problem. If people didn’t know about cyber-bullying, they wouldn’t be much wiser with your answers and a short presentation.

You worked a little bit on gathering information, but you clearly have not learned much about (cyber-)bullying and its effects, even though there’s much information on the internet.

You made a start, but you can improve, by striving for more completeness in your answers and presentation.

You worked pretty hard on gathering information and you found a lot of relevant information on bullying and its effects. You made good use of the internet. This was a very good start, but you can improve the completeness of the information you give and the sources you have used.

Your work is a fine example of gathering and presenting information and you clearly know how to use various media, like the internet, as a source of information.

This is close to perfection: it is hard to see how you could improve your presentations of problems related to (cyber-)bullying.

Assignment 2: Who cares?

Answers to questions

max .. points

It seemed as if you did not care very much: you gave hardly any data on the consequences for the direct victims of cyber-bullying or for the offenders.

Also, you could not tell much about legislation, protocols in school and the preventive initiatives at the regional and national levels.

You did some good efforts: you were able to give basic data on the consequences of (cyber)bullying. You were able to find information about legislation, protocols in school and the preventive initiatives at the regional and national levels. It’s a start, but you certainly can improve.

You did good work on gathering information and you were able to explain in detail what measures are taken in other countries as well as your own

You also wrote well about the approach to preventing (cyber-)bullying in your school. You showed a good understanding of bullying.

Your work is a fine example of presenting the complex data that you got from your various sources.

You explained the complex interaction between the causes of cyber-bullying and some prevention measures. Last but not least you gave a good description of what your school does to deal with the problem.

Assignment 3: do you care?

Answers to questions & argumentation on objectivity,

max .. points

Argumentation concerning your personal involvement was not clear, you hardly know or learned about initiatives near to you or what your school does. It is doubtful that you are aware of major developments concerning (cyber)bullying.

Argumentation concerning your personal involvement shows little coherence, you merely reproduced some statements, but at least you were able to find them.

It’s a start towards a more balanced understanding of (cyber-)bullying.

Argumentation concerning your personal involvement showed that you are capable of judging information that you found. You showed a good understanding of the causes and effects of bullying. It’s a good start: you are well on your way to fully understanding (cyber-)bullying.

Argumentation concerning your personal involvement was coherent and complete. You found the most relevant data and statements.

You presented clearly what (cyber)bullying is about and the position you take in this complex situation.

Your leaner report:


argumentation of your personal achievements


max .. points


Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was mostly missing, consisting of unrelated statements. There is doubt that you learned much about (cyber-)bullying.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements lacks coherence, but you were able to specify some things you have learned.

It’s a start, ready for improvement.

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements showed good coherence. You are able to name a number of things that you learned.

It’s a good start!

Argumentation concerning your personal results and achievements was complete. You were able to point out clearly what you learned, about the subject and about yourself! That’s what we wanted to see happening.

Teacher instruction

This Webquest is suitable for classroom work of small groups or for working in distant, online educational environments, where students work individually or again in groups. In the latter case, they will have to use modern communication facilities like web-conferencing (Skype) in order to cooperate effectively.

In the case of distant, online training, the evaluation procedure needs extra attention and care. No doubt, direct online communication between teacher and pupil(s) is required to clarify various issues.

We expect that pupils already have information about bullying from their own experience or from their peers, even before starting their Webquest. In the classroom, the teacher can introduce the subject of (cyber-)bullying in any way he/she likes, if possible by referring to recent regional news/incidents. That will emphasize the relevance of this topic.

A lot of questions and tasks will not lead to straight and absolute true answers. This Webquest is focused on stimulating pupils to develop their opinion, not to seek objective truths. Pupils may find different information, according to the sources they used, and their interpretation can be most different, depending on their position in matters related to bullying: youngsters standing closer to victims will have different opinions than those who are close friends to bullies. Teachers should have an open eye for such situations and avoid above all that the classroom will be turned into a courtroom.

Comparison of the answers given by pupils, both in the classroom and online (by using web-conferencing) is an important part of the evaluation of this Webquest.

It is good for pupils to be aware of (cyber-)bullying if it is real for them or not. For some, this Webquest may be the start of developing their own opinion and moving to action.

Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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