Unfortunately for many children, bullying or taunting is commonplace.
This problem has shifted from the schoolyards to the digital realm, which often leaves its victims surrounded by an inescapable struggle and the outcome is proving deadly.
While the age group where cyberbullying seems to be prevalent is typically teenagers, it still can take place with college age students and even here in the UVU community.
Recently, there have been several cases in the news of students affected by cyberbullying. For example, Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 19, committed suicide when a video of a sexual encounter of his was posted online, allegedly by fellow students, and shared.
In 2006, Megan Meier, 13, committed suicide when a classmate and her mother used MySpace.com to taunt Meier. In January of this year, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince committed suicide after apparent relentless online taunting at the hands of her classmates.
All three teenagers were victims of cyberbullying, a growing problem among young people that seems to be claiming more and more victims.
“It is sad,” said Bob White, a Geology major. “It is sad for the person being bullied; it is sad for the bully.”
Cyberbullying is defined by The National Crime Prevention Council as “similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell phones.”
The issue of cyberbullying has sparked several websites designed to help victims and their families navigate the problem. Cyberbullying spurred Dan Savage, a Seattle-based writer, to start the “It Gets Better Project,” a series of motivational videos on YouTube.com designed to help teenage gay and lesbian victims of cyberbullying.
While most of the help out there is geared toward teenagers, there is help available right here at UVU.
Ashley Robertson, program coordinator for Judicial Affairs, says that if a student feels that they are being harassed, they can come in and talk about it.
“We use the UVU Code of Conduct to determine the student’s rights,” says Robertson. “If it is determined the student is responsible, the school would take action depending on the severity.”
In addition to the Office of Judicial Affairs & Ombudsman, students can also contact UVU Police Department if feel they are being harassed on campus or by another student.
“If a student feels threatened, they should contact us,” says Chief John C. Brewer. “They can start with us and we’ll give them advice.”
While there are currently no cases of cyberbullying being investigated on campus, there are options for help. Another resource available to students is Student Health Services. Students can receive counseling to help deal with difficult issues confronting them. JC Graham of Student Health Services cautions against comparing the damage caused by cyber-bullying and harassment.
“I think it is difficult to measure degrees of hurtfulness,” says Graham. “Each person’s experience is individual and comparing degrees of hurtfulness may minimize a person’s experience.”
Websites to help victims of cyberbullying
SAVE, PRINT or COPY:
If you or someone you know may be a victim of cyberbullying, UVU Police suggest that you save, print and/or copy any and all material related to the incident before coming in to talk with the police.
Student Health Services