It is very quiet in the class 5c room at the Nehring elementary school in Charlottenburg when the students are asked to report what they have heard about cyberbullying. Some have had their own experiences, but the most shocking story is told by a fifth grader about a boy he knows from the sports club: “He was in the toilet at school and someone was filming under the toilet door with his cell phone. And then the film was on YouTube. ”His friend trembled when he told what had happened to him.

Digital violence online, better known as cyberbullying, is omnipresent. College of teachers, social workers and student representatives must try to get the tools they need to be able to respond when those in need ask for help in need.

The project is called “Respect online”

“We have the project” Faustlos “, we have conflict guides and a class council, but all that is not enough because of the modern media,” said Nehring headmistress Aina Lappalainen in view of the pervasive phenomenon. She is all the more delighted that class 5c has got her own “tools”: Michael Retzlaff, the longtime cyberbullying expert at the State Institute for Schools and Media, completed the workshop “Respect on the Net” with him.

One in four no longer feels safe at school – also because of cyberbullying.Photo: Oliver Berg / dpa

In this way, they not only got to know the manifestations and effects of cyberbullying, but were also “emotionally empowered to actively promote respectful use of the Internet,” praises the German Children’s Fund: It donated 5,000 euros to the association “You are smart!” who implemented the project under Retzlaff’s direction.

“The children took a lot with them”

The workshop raised children’s awareness, ”says 5c teacher Nicole Jezewski. She was “excited about how much the children took with them”. What class 5c developed was then presented in other classes – together with a film they had made themselves – and could ultimately be transferred to the whole school.

Anke Minhoff’s association “Du bist smart” and Michael Retzlaff’s project “Respekt im Netz” received 5,000 euros from …Photo: Susanne Vieth-Entus

At the heart of the work against cyberbullying is a declaration of self-commitment, which the students have drawn up together, as expert Retzlaff emphasizes. With their signatures, all students affirmed that they “don’t want to accept any form of cyberbullying, linguistic or physical threats and violence ”. It follows that they do not threaten or insult their classmates, but treat them “fairly and respectfully”, as stated in the self-declaration.

Enduring difference is the motto

In addition, they have undertaken to accept “different worldviews, opinions, different looks and personal idiosyncrasies” and not to resolve conflicts with violence or through insolence on the Internet, but to strive for a fair and peaceful solution. They want to contact trusted persons in difficult situations.

Expert Michael Retzlaff presents case studies to show students how cyberbullying knows.Photo: Susanne Vieth-Entus

Traumatic experiences such as the one with the YouTube video from the school toilet, which the Nehring fifth grader told the Berliner Abendschau, were also taken up: “When I notice that someone is terrorizing or harassing by cell phone, Internet, SMS or in some other way I don’t look away, I try to help and get help, ”the students agree. In addition, they do not want to take photos or videos without the permission of those affected, nor post them on the Internet.

“A respectful cooperation – not only – on the Internet should have absolute priority at every school, especially in the course of the digital package”, says Antje Minhoff from the “You are smart” board.

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