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Cyberbullying is a campus issue

Prince William recently launched a campaign to address cyberbullying, an issue that affects internet users. Stop Speak Support aims to educate all UK citizen under 30 about cyberbullying.

The name of the campaign reflects the steps internet users should take in the face of online bullying. The initiative encourages online bystanders to evaluate the situation, report the offensive material and offer the victims support.

However, cyberbullying among young adults is an issue that stretches across the pond. Recent research studies have explored the phenomenon of cyberbullying on college campuses in the United States.

StopBullying.gov describes cyberbullying as any form of bullying that takes place over digital devices. Common occurrences include sharing personal information or causing humiliation, which sometimes crosses over into unlawful behavior.

FSC campus counselor Dr. Brooke Griffith described the short-term effects cyberbullying can have on college students, which include feelings of helplessness, anxiety and anger. These can lead students to skip classes and isolate themselves from their peers.

“In the long-term, the reality is we don’t really know,” Griffith said. “Cyberbullying is a newer phenomenon, and so we don’t have a generation yet to study some of the longer term impact.”

According to Dean of Student Development Bill Langston, cyberbullying is an issue that Florida Southern has faced in the past and is prepared to handle in the future.

Cyberbullying is contained within Florida Southern’s Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy, which prohibits any type of discrimination or harassment in all forms.

“Our position is always to respond to any reports of bullying, in any form, with a prompt and equitable investigation that provides both support to the students involved and that seeks to put an end to and provide resolution for those targeted by bullying behaviors, ” Langston said.

If a student feels as if he or she is being cyberbullied, then there are steps that can be taken to handle the situation.

Griffith said the first thing the student should do is tell someone, such as a friend or staff member. Then, that student should save evidence, block the offender and report the offensive material to the content platform.

Students can also support each other in situations of cyberbullying. Psychology major Jordan Howard said that if a classmate is being cyberbullied, he or she should not try to handle the situation alone.

“They should let the school administration know they are being cyberbullied and see if they can take matters into their own hands,” she said.

As with any matter of bullying, cyberbullying results in perpetrators as well as victims. Langston said that FSC’s accountability process provides appropriate sanctions for the offending parties.

“Even though they do not think there are any consequences, there are actually negative things happening,” Howard said. “[The victim] could really be hurt by the bullying, and that could lead to disastrous consequences for everyone involved.”

There are also a number of online resources available to students who experience cyberbullying. Langston described Stomp Out Bullying as a leading national bullying and cyberbullying prevention organization.

Other resources include the Cyberbullying Research Center, which is run by a pair of professors, and the National Crime Prevention Center.

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