Prospective Students: Check out our viewbook!

Cyberbullying: A Bigger Threat Than You Think

The harms that can come to people who use technology every day are many. Though security measures can help protect against attacks aimed at devices, cyberbullying is a threat that can easily pass undetected by firewalls and anti-viruses, as it is designed to harm people emotionally. 

Cyberbullying is an electronic message that includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else (Bosch & Van Cleemput, 2009), including sending personal information that causes embarrassment and humiliation (Hoeken, 2019). Cyberbullying is frequently found in social media, text messaging, online forms, email, and online gaming communities.  

cyberbullyingIn academic settings, this sort of harassment often involves a mix of both in-person and digital interactions. Cyberbullies use these usual tactics: posting comments or rumors, threatening to hurt someone, posting a hurtful picture or video, posting mean names, and doxing, an abbreviated form of online harassment used to threaten or destroy privacy of the individuals by making their information public.

Another usual technique uses Sockpuppets, fictitious online identities created for deception (Kats, 2020). Cyberbullying negatively impacts the higher education environment because it undermines the school climate, interferes with student engagement and functioning, and reflects poor academic performance. Though often thought of as an issue in the K12 system (where all 50 states in the US have passed legislation to try to address the threat responsible for over 20 suicides of children in the last decade), there are growing accounts of cyberbullying in higher education targeting students, professors, and administrators.

In past years, some faculty members were victims of cyberbullying. In one case, a "sockpuppet" account was created on Facebook FB, posting immature and nasty comments. Negative feedback comments were posted on the "rate my professors" site, accusing the professor of being under the influence of controlled substances in class. The sinister perpetrator was a former student who was found guilty of plagiarizing.

In another case, a girl with special needs was tricked on social media by her classmates into stomping on a glass bottle and needed nine stitches in her foot. The police charged both classmates with telecommunications harassment (Fox-19). In a most recent case, a teenager was outed online by his peers for being bisexual, after the fact, the student took his own life. The student sent sexually explicit messages to a friend, but his friend published the contents on social media. (Rueb, 2019).

If you want to know more about how to detect or prevent cyberbullying, go to www.stopbullying.gov Additionally, you can report any discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct at www.shsu.edu/titleix .

References


Hoeken H., Ouden H.. (2019) Narrative Health Communication. In: Vandebosch H., Green L. (eds) Narratives in Research and Interventions on Cyberbullying among Young People. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-04960-7_5 

Izadi, E. (2015, June 4). Breaking news, WORLD, US, DC news and analysis. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/ 

Kats, D. (2020, April 29). Identifying sockpuppet accounts on social media platforms. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.nortonlifelock.com/blogs/research-group/identifying-sockpuppet-accounts-social-media 

Minor, M., Smith, G., & Brashen, H. (2013, April 17). Cyberbullying in higher education. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/jerap/vol3/iss1/2/ 

Rueb, E. (2019, September 30). A teenager killed himself after being outed as bisexual. his family wants justice. Retrieved March 02, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/us/channing-smith-suicide-bisexual-tennessee.html 

What is Cyberbullying. (2020, July 21). Retrieved February 25, 2021, from www.stopbullying.gov.