Research shows that 64% of teenagers in Hong Kong and Macau have experienced some for of cyber-bullying. Mary Law and her team of seven IBMers envisioned a program that would raise awareness of the problem, help to prevent cyber-bullying, and have a real impact on the students and the environment in their schools.
In collaboration with the Education Bureau (EDB) of HKSAR they launched the Internet Safety and Anti-Cyberbullying Student Training Program to primary and secondary students in Hong Kong in 2012. Due to its tremendous success, the program has been scaled up to include 191 primary school students from 19 schools and 140 secondary school students from 13 schools in 2013.
The team uses many On Demand Community resources, including the “Control Your Online Identity”, “Cyber-bullying and Internet Safety Coaching” activity kits as the content of the training. They translated the information into Chinese and customized the content with local news, regulations and teaching materials from EDB to target different audiences. Using the native language and local examples, students can understand and relate to the presentation more easily. Discussion topics were also added to the presentation to facilitate interaction and obtain students’ input.
Mary and her team recognized the importance of integrating the program into the fabric of the school, so they kick the program off with a briefing for teachers and principals to understand the importance of educating students on issues of Internet safety and cyber-bullying, and to encourage their participation in the program. They also adopted an “Ambassador Training model” to amplify the reach of the program. At the end of each program students pledge to be anti-cyberbullying Ambassadors throughout the school year, taking the message to their peers and looking for additional ways they can promote the anti-cyberbullying message.
To recognize the efforts of the Anti-cyberbullying Ambassadors, the team established the Best Practices Awards as part of the program in 2013. The judging panel includes representatives from the Education Bureau and IBM. Gold, silver and bronze awards were given to both primary and secondary students, with two secondary schools chosen as “Recommended Schools” for their efforts to include the cyber-bullying message in their curriculum and for sharing the message with parents, who have the greatest impact on students’ online behavior.
The improvements made to the program in 2013 demonstrate Mary and her team’s ability to relentlessly reinvent themselves and the program to continue to have the greatest impact for the students they reach. They recognized that real change would not happen without the message being woven into the fabric and culture of the schools, and the day to day activities of the children. With the Ambassador program, the team created a strong sense of responsibility in the students that they could use to have a greater influence on their peers.