Response Strategies

Within the school environment, teachers may be exposed to incidents resulting from social networking activity that impacts upon either an individual student’s ability to be focused in the classroom or disrupts the overall classroom learning environment.

The strategies outlined below can be used by teachers and school staff to explore and address some of these incidents. Often used to address bullying incidents, these response strategies can be a useful tool for discussing incidents with students around social networking conflict online. For those trained in the Friendly Schools Plus Whole School Program, these strategies may be familiar to you.

A brief summary of these techniques is outlined below with links to further resources.

  • Co-LATE Model
  • Critical Thinking Line

Co-LATE Model

This video clip demonstrates the use of the Co-Late Model when talking to students about bullying behaviour. While this clip refers to behaviour occurring on the school grounds, the model may also be used to discuss online incidents with students.

Co-LATE Model

CHPRC research schools report finding the Co-LATE model helpful when talking to students about personal issues, including relationship difficulties and bullying behaviour. The model is simple and can be used by all school staff, regardless of their role in the school. The Co-LATE model is based on the work of Michael Tunnecliffe and comprises five steps:

C onfidentiality

L isten

A cknowledge concerns

T alk about the options

E nd with encouragement


Students involved in CHPRC research express concern that school staff will discuss their interactions with other staff members. To address this, school staff can be clear with students about when they may need to talk to other adults about the content of their conversation (for example, duty of disclosure). If staff need to consult other staff about student interactions, it is important to do so in a confidential location (not by the photocopier), and with the permission of the student concerned. In addition, the location of student health and wellbeing services at the school can impact on the likelihood of student access. Locating these services in areas used by students for a variety of purposes (for example, with year coordinators) means that students can access them, without other students knowing which service they are attending.


Students involved in CHPRC research acknowledge the importance of good listening skills. Active listening enables school staff to confirm they have understood the details of the conversation accurately, as well as demonstrate to students they have been paying attention to them. Avoiding behaviours which demonstrate to students that staff do not have time to talk to them can enhance students’ confidence in approaching staff. These may include watching the clock, shuffling papers and interrupting students.

Acknowledge concerns

School staff can acknowledge students’ concerns, even if they do not agree with them. Acknowledging takes the form of paraphrasing students’ concerns and their reaction to the situation. For example, “So you are concerned that if you don’t forward the email you have received about Sam, your friends might not want to have you around. I can see how that would upset you a lot.” Comments about opportunities to make new friends and dismissing students concerns are usually ineffective and demonstrate to students you don’t understand the situation they are in. Hence, students may discontinue the conversation at this point.

Talk about the options

This step is likely to be most effective when school staff encourage students to identify solutions to their own concerns. This does not mean that staff cannot offer their own suggestions, but solutions suggested by, and endorsed by, students will likely be put into action faster than those suggested by staff. When identifying responses with students, it is important to also discuss the positive and negative consequences of each to enable students to make an informed decision about how to proceed with the situation.

End with encouragement

Ending the conversation with a summary of what was discussed can help students make a decision about how to proceed with their situation. In addition, it provides an opportunity for school staff to give encouragement to the student for deciding to implement their chosen response strategy. While school staff cannot guarantee the outcome of students’ actions and that they will resolve the situation, encouragement enables students to feel confident in trying to respond. At this point it may also be helpful to establish a time to have a follow-up meeting with the student, to discuss the effectiveness of implementing their strategy. If no follow-up is required, school staff can reassure students that they can reconnect if the situation is not resolved, or they need more support to take further action.

Critical Thinking Line

The Critical Thinking Line is based on a number line and can be used for many purposes. For younger students the line can be used to help students consider the intensity of their feelings. For example, “You are feeling angry. Look at the Critical Thinking Line and tell me how angry you feel”. In class students can think of the things that make them feel most angry and mark these on the line. This allows students to see how others feel and their levels of response to those feelings.

The Critical Thinking Line can also be used when talking to students about bullying. It is best used in conjunction with the Shared Concern method or motivational interviewing as a means to establish, for example, some feelings of empathy for the student being bullied.

The interviewer asks the student to consider how they feel about the person they have been bullying. Then ask the student, on a scale of 1-10, how strong that feeling is. On this scale 1 is low, 10 is high.

  • For example:
  • “On a scale of 1 –10 how do you feel about __________?”

Very few students have been found to answer 0. But if this happens ask the student why and continue with the process you are using, either the Shared Concern method or Motivational Interviewing.

A student might say: “He’s about a 4”.

The interviewer then replies: “Okay about a 4. What was it about that person that made you decide on a 4 rather than a lower score, like a 3?” (At this point you are trying to get the student bullying to identify some positive characteristics about the student being bullied.) For example, the student might reply: “Well he’s not the worst kid I ever met”. From this point the interviewer can attempt to establish some positive attributes of the bullied student.

The interviewer then asks why the student bullying didn’t give the other student a higher score, for instance a 5. At this point the student will usually point out the reasons why this particular student was targeted for bullying. This is an important starting point for discussion relating to the characteristics and feelings of the other person, and how the bullying may be affecting that student.

This method of getting the student to think critically about the person they are bullying helps to develop an awareness of how the bullying situation developed and may provide ideas as to how this problem could be addressed.

This video clip illustrates the effective use of the Critical Thinking Line to talk to students about their bullying behaviour. While this clip refers to behaviour occurring on school grounds, the Critical Thinking Line technique may also be used to discuss online incidents and to help students consider the feelings of others.

Critical Thinking Line

This is the final component of the Teaching and Learning module. To confirm all the relevant information has been covered refer to the module checklist available on the left hand side of the screen. To view another module, click on the preferred module using the navigation toolbar on the top of the page.

Relevant Reading

More detailed information on responding to online incidents and cyberbullying behavior can be found in the supporting resource book ‘Evidence for Practice’ from the whole school program Friendly Schools Plus.