Information About Cyberbullying & How To Stop It on Your Campus

How To Stop Cyberbullying

Posted on 5 January 2016 |

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campus cyberbullying“Hey kid. Hand over your lunch money or else.”

Many people still think this is the only type of bullying that exists—the young kid at the schoolyard threatening to beat you up unless you hand over your lunch money.

Unfortunately, over the years bullying has become much more complicated—especially with the rise of technology and the Internet. A new kind of bullying is on the rise: cyberbullying.

And it’s not limited to schoolyards in elementary schools—it’s happening on college campuses just like yours. That’s why we are going over the definition of cyberbullying, how it affects college students and ways your campus can respond to cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying?

The Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC) defines cyberbullying as, “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.”

According to CRC, the bullying:

  • Must be conducted over some form of technology (cell phones or computers)
  • Needs to be done on purpose and not on accident
  • Is happening repeatedly and is not just a one-time occurrence
  • Should be perceived as harmful

Some examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Sending harassing text messages
  • Posting hurtful or demeaning comments on a social media
  • Publishing embarrassing or sexual pictures online
  • Threatening someone with violence or wishing violence happens to them on social media
  • Starting rumors and spreading them over text messages
  • Creating fake social media accounts to humiliate a person

Besides the technology aspect, there are other things that make cyberbullying different than traditional bullying:

  • There is no time limit placed on cyberbullying. It can happen every day at any time.
  • It’s easy to bully someone anonymously. Messages and images are harder to trace to a specific person.
  • Once something has been published to the Internet, it’s very difficult to remove.

However, one thing remains the same: the affect. Just like traditional bullying, cyberbullying is associated with major health and psychological issues such as depression, emotional distress, low self-esteem, poor academic achievement and perhaps most seriously, suicide.

Does Cyberbullying Affect College Students?

Even though the majority of cyberbullying happens to middle school and high school students, cyberbullying is still a problem throughout higher education campuses.

A 2010 Pew Research Center poll found that over 90 percent of community college, undergraduate and graduate students are Internet users. So with this level of use, college students are bound to deal with cyberbullying too.

In fact, a new study from the University of Washington found that of the 265 college women surveyed 27 percent experienced cyberbullying. And that participants with any involvement in cyberbullying had increased odds of depression.

Carlos P. Zalaquett and SeriaShia J. Chatters discovered in their study that at least 19 percent of the college students they surveyed were the victims of cyberbullying.

Additionally, when asked how cyberbullying plays out among college students, Thierry Guedj, associate director of Boston University’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Office, responded, “I’ve seen it more on the high school level, but both in high school and in college, there’s been a lot of cyberbullying around sexuality and spreading rumor and gossip, particularly about the sexual promiscuity of certain individuals.”

Ways You Can Respond to Cyberbullying

Establish a Formal Anti-Cyberbullying Policy

Technology and how people use it is usually way ahead of laws and policies. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep up. If you don’t already have a formal anti-cyberbullying policy at your school, you need one.

The policy should outline your school’s definition of cyberbullying and the consequences students will face if they bully another person on campus. And most importantly, everyone should be held accountable to this policy.

Implement Training/Education

Another strategy you can use is cyberbullying prevention training. In Zalaquett and Chatters’ study, over 75 percent of the students surveyed favored education on cyberbullying, which indicates there’s a need for training.

The cyberbullying training should teach students:

  • The definition of cyberbullying
  • Your school’s cyberbullying policy
  • How to recognize and respond to cyberbullying
  • Where to find resources to help them deal with cyberbullying
  • What to do if they experience cyberbullying on your campus

Promote Bystander Intervention

Right now, many universities are using bystander intervention to help prevent sexual violence on campus. And you can also use it to help prevent cyberbullying. Many times cyberbullying happens in groups and it’s overwhelming to the victims.

But when bystanders intervene in the situation, they can help to influence other members of the group to think about their actions and stop what they are doing. It also shows the cyberbullying victim that there are people that care about them and are willing to stand up and do what’s right.

Provide Counseling Resources

As stated earlier, students that have been the victims of cyberbullying are at a great risk of developing mental health problems. Offering support to students that have faced a traumatic experience such as cyberbullying will help them to recover. You can also help the victims report the cyberbullying to campus and police authorities.

To learn more about cyberbullying and other types of bullying on campus download our whitepaper: “Bullying on Campus: It's Happening at Your School.”

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