Cyberbullying is driving a considerably higher portion of post-secondary students than adolescents to consider suicide, said an SFU professor.
Close to a quarter of students bullied
In an ongoing study by SFU researcher Wanda Cassidy, 22 per cent of students from four major post-secondary institutions, which could not be named for ethical reasons, said they’ve been cyberbullied over the last 12 months.
“It affected their mental and physical health, and shockingly enough nine to 18 per cent, depending on the university, said that they were suicidal,” Cassidy said. “Eighteen per cent is really high, that’s far higher than the adolescent studies.”
According to a study by John LeBlanc at Dalhousie University, of 41 cases from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, 17 per cent of adolescents who committed suicide experience bullying online as well as at school.
What Langara is doing to combat cyberbullying
Educators are taking cyberbullying seriously and Langara’s manager of student conduct and judicial affairs Maggie Ross said cyberbullying is occurring at the school.
“Incidents of cyberbullying have come to my attention,” she said. “It’s an ongoing problem that we have to address.”
Ross said media attention and events like Pink Shirt Day are a positive part of that inclusive environment and the college is creating campaigns to combat cyberbullying.
While Cassidy supports anti-bullying campaigns, she believes there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
Dialogue, education the key to eliminating bullying
“I think education is really important and I think the dialogue is important, but there’s a lot of hype around it and not a lot of substance,” said Cassidy. “People that are in a position to do something substantive about it need to look far closer at what is really going on. It’s a lot more challenging of a topic to change behaviour than it is to rally around anti-bullying day.”
Reported by Mike Hodder