Cyberbullying doesn’t end at high school graduation. It can continue in college, too. You’d think that people who bully would grow out of this behavior, but college is a high-stress place. Tiffs between ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends can spiral out of control. Rifts among roommates or between athletic teams and individual players at other schools can escalate to the virtual world.
One common arena for cyberbullying is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other services provide easy opportunities for students to spread negativity and put personal vengeances into action. Cyberbullying can also happen via email, text messages, and embarrassing images and videos posted online.
Negative emotions and fear grow and take on a life of their own through manifestation on the Internet, as seen most tragically with the cyberbullying situation that involved Rutgers student Tyler Clementi in fall 2010. Mental and emotional-based cyberbullying acts may set the stage for other acts of aggression, such as physical bullying or even school shootings.
If you are a witness of cyberbullying, speak out for the victim and try to put an end to it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, or if you are the victim and don’t feel safe speaking up, contact a trusted authority, such as a parent or school official, who can help put an end to the bullying. For more signs and prevention of cyberbullying, see this government website on cyberbullying.
At Fordham University, we maintain an office that specifically handles complaints about discrimination, which may involve acts of cyberbullying. Other supports include the University’s Integrity Hotline. Fill out a report about cyberbullying, and it will be directed to the appropriate office–be it the University Information Security Office, the Office of Public Safety, or somewhere else–for addressing your situation.
Finally, if you have engaged in cyberbullying, it can be helpful to talk to a counselor or trusted adult to help you sort out the reasons behind this behavior. Fordham has resources for that, too.
By Nicole Kagan, Fordham IT News Editor.