Nearly twenty percent of college students report being cyberbullied

Credit: Wen Tong Neo

Cyberbullying among college students is largely the result of significant use on social media. Most adults remember bullying happening in school, but cyberbullying has taken bullying to the internet through social media accounts, e-mails, instant messages and text messaging.

A 2014 study from the Journal of Educational Computing research found 19 percent of college students reported being victims of cyberbullying, an increase from the year before. Although there is a good amount of cyberbullying data on adolescents, not much research on cyberbullying of college students has been conducted.

The term cyberbullying is coined as bullying that takes over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying comes from posts, and shares negative, harmful, false or mean facts about others. The behavior can cross the line into being a criminal action, causing victims to take legal action against the person bullying them.

Credit: Amanda Washington

Cyberbullying in DC

In 2012, the District created a group called the “Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force”. This task force was created to make a comprehensive model policy to be used as a framework for District agencies in adopting tailored anti-bullying policies to protect youth in the District.

The task force is comprised of the following:

      • District government agencies
      • Teachers
      • School Administrators
      • Parents
      • Mental Health Professionals
      • Direct service providers
      • Advocates
      • Youth
      • Community Members

Suzanne Greenfield, Director of the City Wide Bullying Task Force, said it was hard to get the initiative off of the ground.

“The whole point of this task force was to get people together to combat youth bullying but it was hard at first because we were given the task force but no funding behind it,” Greenfield said.

But a lack of funding didn’t stop the task force. It continued to find different ways to help combat bullying in the district amongst youth, where Greenfield said cyber and in-person bullying held the same weight.

Because D.C. was so late to adopt a policy for bullying, the city was able to look at other cities to formulate a plan to stop bullying in D.C. according to Greenfield.

“The task force was put into action as a policy and will dissolve in August.“The task force has been very influential and we have gotten a lot of good information from this policy, but now it’s time to implement a law to help the youth in D.C.”

Although the task force started off with no funding it has received two grants and a partnership through the National Institute of Justice for school justice and violence prevention.

Credit: Amanda Washington

The grants will now allow the task force to give District classrooms evidence-based lesson plans that would walk through what healthy relationships look like, so students can adopt better habits.

“The task force has been very influential and we have gotten a lot of good information from this policy, but now it’s time to implement a law to help the youth in D.C.” Greenfield said.

Cyberbullying at American University

Almost a quarter of college students are cyberbullied. Although the specific number of cyberbullying victims at American University in Washington D.C. has not been recorded.

Leila Adams, AU Senior says her former friend posted personal conversations between the two on Instagram after their friendship dissolved. Some of these messages included Adams’ thoughts of others and even personal problems of hers.

“Bullies aren’t the people on the playground stealing lunch money anymore,”Adams said. “People hide behind their phones and computers and will really hurt you.”

The AU Counseling Center and Office of Student of Life didnt respond to an e-mail about cyberbullying. AU does not have policies online dealing with cyberbullying.

Adams said that she did not tell the counseling center about her issues with her ex-friend because she felt that nothing would be done.

“I’ve seen people go to the counseling center and get referred to the website, so I thought how could they possibly help me,” Adams added.

Political cyberbullying campaigns

Several celebrities have joined the ranks of raising cyberbullying awareness. While on the campaign trail, First Lady Melania Trump presented a platform for combatting cyberbullying. No initiatives have been put into action, but in September Mrs. Trump spoke at the United Nations luncheon for spouses and said that adults have to take control of what is happening to children online.

“As adults, we are not merely responsible, we are accountable,” the First Lady said.

Credit: Time Magazine

As of mid-November,  Britain’s Prince William, partnered with Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat to launch his own anti-cyberbullying campaign.

Prince William created a task force with leading tech companies to create an online code of conduct, called “Stop, Speak, Support.” Its aim online is to create a safer platform and give youth new resources to use if they feel threatened.

Prince William said the campaign will work with social media platforms to promote and create trial programs that layout safety guidelines for users.

“The technology company members of the task force have agreed to adopt new guidelines to improve the process for reporting bullying online and to create clearer consequences for those who behave unacceptably,” Prince William said.

The new code of conduct will include a website that supports users and teaches users how to be safe while online.

The Kensington Palace released a video of Prince William speaking to a teen who attempted suicide due to cyberbullying, and a mother who lost her son because of it.


About Amanda Washington 5 Articles
Hey I’m Amanda. I am a self-driven journalism graduate student at American University, new to the journalism profession. In the past, I was a kindergarten teacher in Atlanta, GA. I am an aspiring broadcast journalist. I graduated from Spelman College in 2014

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