Many schools, universities included, provide their students with online policies and guidelines that they should follow. These institutions make it clear unethical practices, such as cyberbullying, and inappropriate communication among or between students is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Nevertheless, studies show that a good number of students, over 75%, have engaged in at least one form of unethical practices online. Consequently, the number of cyber bullying and online harassment victims continues to increase.
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Experts suggest that victims of cyberbullying and harassment are more likely to commit suicide as compared to the general population. Although cyber bulling can take place in any school regardless of the level or location, it is usually assumed to be a middle and high school issue (Jaffe, 2010). In line with this, there is very little information available in regards to cyber bullying in universities and colleges. This has resulted to less attention being paid on the issue in institutions of higher education, which has in turn increased the rate and extent of cyberbullying.
It is vital that my university puts measures in place to ensure that students practice appropriate and professional communication at all times. Although informal communication is allowed, students should understand that posting offensive messages or pictures would not be tolerated. Being in charge of the university, it is my duty to design and enforce rules that will ensure that students maintain proper online conduct.
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Cyberbullying can come in many forms for instance, starting and spreading rumors about someone through cellphones, or over the Internet. Most cyberbullying incidents take place on social networks where people post or circulate messages or pictures with the aim of embarrassing a certain individual. As pointed out earlier, cyberbullying can trigger suicidal behavior, especially among teens. Studies show that teen suicide is the third most prominent cause of death among young adults, with cyberbullying being one of the factors that contribute to such suicides (Flett& Hewitt, 2013). A good example of how cyber bullying can result into suicide is seen in the case of Tyler Clement, a Rutgers University’s student. Dharum, Tyler’s roommate,shared a recording of him kissing another male. Tyler was ridiculed by other students both online and offline, which pushed him to commit suicide. Ravi was charged with manslaughter (Jaffe, 2010). It is therefore clear that cyberbullying is dangerous as it can have severe adverse impact on both the victim and the perpetrator. In line with this, I would ensure that my university has strict rules and policies prevent cyberbullying among students.
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The rules and guidelines would dictate the tone of communication, use of private messages, informal discussions, use of bold caps, nature of mages and content that can be shared, and use of offensive words among other things. Additional rules would be: students should not use hate speech, belittling conversations, and biased conversations under any circumstances.Other than putting those rules and policies in place, I would also invent a system to help me enforce them as well as make sure that any student who breaks thoserules faces severe consequences including punishment, apologizing, suspension or evenexpulsion depending on the extent and severity of the crime committed.
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Students can get many advantages from the Internet. They can share ideas, express their honest opinions without hurting each other’s feelings. However, the Internet can also be harmful since not everyone online has good intentions. When a student is online, he or she should take necessary precautions to ensure that they do not fall victims of cyberbullying. A student should know when to report cyberbullying incidences and to whom they should report the same. Furthermore, when students understand the impact ofcyberbulling, they are less likely to perpetrate and others will be encouraged to report such cases instead of carrying it on. I will thus come up with a program that enlightens students about cyberbullying, its impact, and how to deal with it.
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Cyberbullying, harassing other students, and inappropriate communication practices will not be encouraged and tolerated in the university. All students must address each other respectfully, and apologize whenever they unintentionally offend someone else. This will help preserve peace and respect among students, which will in turn create a favorable environment for all students.
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