Combatting Cyber Violence for Women and Girls: Participating on the Web
Made by Amira Dhalla
60 - 90 minutes
In this three-part series learners focus on understanding the impact of cyber violence against women and girls, creating safer places online, knowing how to address bullying or attacks when they happen, and participating in online communities in a supportive manner. Activities will take young women and girls from understanding online violence to actively advocating against it.
Web Literacy CompetenciesParticipation Sharing Privacy
- Understand the implications of online bullying and effect on victims.
- Consider how to be an upstander instead of a bystander in a bullying situation by being compassionate to the victim and taking action against the bully.
- Co-create possible solutions to dealing with cyber violence.
- Pens and markers
- Computer and/or screen to show internet-based video
- A projector (optional)
Background and Preparation:
Millions of women and girls around the world are victims of cyber violence or threat. Roughly 73% of women are abused online. For the internet to remain an open and safe place, we need to understand why and how cyber violence occurs to be able to take a more effective stand in stepping in. The third part of this module focuses on how individuals can take action and support to those being attacked online.
If there is relevant story in the city in which you are teaching this activity, it is recommended that you share that story instead of, or with, Amanda Todd’s story. It’s important that learners understand that the story is applicable in their locations, as well as around the world.
Given the nature of the story in the activity, you might consider sending a note to the parents/guardians of young participants describing the activity and its objectives before the event.
Background reading and watching:
Facilitators should review the tips on designing events for women and girls guide in order to prepare for the activity.
1. Introduction5 minutes
Welcome your learners to the session and discuss how they are there to learn more about cyber violence and its causes and effects. Start by creating a safe space for the discussion and lay some ground rules:
- Everyone’s opinions are valid and important. The information shared by individuals within the session will be held with respect and anonymity.
- The conversation is not meant to discredit any person, organization, group, demographic or gender.
- The conversation is being held with the intent to understand how to make the internet an open and safe place.
- ..... [more information on creating guidelines]
Ask if there are any other norms that might benefit the group? Once you have created a space where individuals feel they can contribute shift the conversation to why you, the facilitator, think cyber violence against women and girls is an important topic.
Be sure to let individuals know that you will be sharing a true story that is offensive, crude and upsetting to some.
2. Amanda Todd's Story20 minutes
Inform attendees that you are going to share Amanda Todd’s story that took place only a few years ago. Make sure to restate that Amanda’s story is true and can be found upsetting to some.
Here’s a true story about Amanda Todd who grew up in British Columbia and enjoyed making new friends online. After a year of being pressured by a stranger that Amanda met online in a video chat site, she exposed her breasts for the camera. She didn’t think it was a big deal. Though very briefly exposed, the picture became the beginning of a blackmail scandal that would forever haunt Amanda. At first, the stranger started threatening Amanda that they were going to expose her picture if she didn’t do exactly what they said. Soon after the initial blackmailing attempts failed, the perpetrator started circulating Amanda’s picture on the internet and she became a victim of sexual exploitation and cyber bullying. The perpetrator has shared the image so that her family, friends, peers and everyone could see her private picture on the internet and on social media sites. After much torment, Amanda decided to leave her current school. She was hopping for a fresh start away from those that were bullying and teasing her. Must to her dismay, a year after moving to a new school, the individual created a fake Facebook account with her personal picture as the image and started to contact friends from her new school. She was yet again bullied in school and online. After switching schools for the second time, she went on to experience physical bullying, online bullying and harassment that would lead to her first suicide attempt. With every year, the attacker got worse and continued to follow Amanda wherever she went filling social media streams with her private pictures and opening her up to endless abuse. Two year after the incident occurred when Amanda was 15 years old she took her own life. Before she died, Amanda released a video on Youtube with her account of being bullied.
As a group, view Amanda Todd’s Youtube video. Ask attendees what they thought about Amanda’s story and how it made them feel. Ask some probing questions:
- How would they feel if they were in Amanda’s situation?
- Does it make you think twice about what you post online? On a mobile application?
- Once something is put on the internet, can you ever take it back?
- What could Amanda have done?
- What could Amanda’s friends or family have done?
Ask attendees if they know of any stories of people who have been attacked or bullied online. What was the story? How did the attacks make the victim feel? What did their friends or family members do?
3. Taking action30 minutes
Ask attendees to imagine they are a friend of Amanda’s who is equally distraught by the situation and decides to write a letter to the instigator. Make sure the letter includes:
- What is wrong
- Why it is wrong
- How the actions make Amanda, others and yourself feel
- What you will do as a friend
- How you will help Amanda
- What you will do if they don’t stop
Allow individuals 20 minutes to write their letter.
Give attendees another scenario. Have them imagine they are on Facebook when they notice a negative comment that appears like bullying on a friend’s Facebook status. Ask them what they will do. Have them discuss it as a group and share any of the possible answers they might have missed:
- Tell the bully to stop
- Stand up to the bully in the comments
- Encourage others not to laugh or give it attention
- Message your friend to ask if they are okay
- Tell someone who can help
Then ask them what they shouldn’t do when standing up the bully. Have them discuss it as a group and share any of the possible answers they might have missed:
- Call the bully names or attack them
- Threaten the bully
- Stand up sooner rather than later
- Respond thoughtfully, not fast
4. Reflection10 minutes
When completed writing letters, ask if any individuals in the room would like to share their letter with the group. Read a couple out loud and ask if anyone had different answers.
Ask probing questions to the group:
- “Why is it important to take action?”
- “If you are silent, that means you have nothing to do with it right?”
- “Why does laughing, sharing or giving bullying attention make the situation worse?”
- “What type of information can you share online? What type of information should you not share online”
- “How do you know who to trust online?”
Ask learners if they know of any other ways that they can take action locally? Have a few relevant examples prepared and share them with the group. Sample actions can be: