January 2011

January 2011

PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.

January 2011

Cyber-Bullying

What is cyber-bullying?
Ashford University is committed to fostering a learning environment that provides community members with the opportunity to engage safely with one another. We have been alarmed by the number of news stories in recent months regarding teens and young adults who have been pushed to the breaking point by harassment, bullying, and cyber-bullying. We believe that one of the most effective ways to fight this kind of behavior is to raise awareness.

So, what exactly is cyber-bullying? According to cyberbully.org, Cyber-bullying is "sending or posting harmful or cruel text or images using the Internet or other digital communication devices." Cyber-threats are online material that "threatens or raises concerns about violence against others, suicide, or other self-harm." This definition includes both direct and actual threats to hurt someone or to commit suicide, and distressing material that indicates the person is emotionally upset and may be considering hurting someone, hurting him or herself, or committing suicide.

It is especially important for Ashford University students, faculty, and staff who engage with one another in the online modality to understand the nature of this type of harassment and arm themselves with information about staying safe in virtual environments.

What is being done?
Recently, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Education (DOE) have raised awareness regarding concerns about harassment and bullying in colleges and universities. OCR has now deemed harassment and bullying an issue of critical importance, noting that "bullying fosters a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of its victims and create conditions that negatively affect learning, thereby undermining the ability of students to achieve their full potential" (Dear Colleague Letter: Office of Assistant Secretary, 2010). Ashford University maintains its commitment to the prevention of and response to harassment and discrimination, including cyber-bullying, in an effort to mitigate the harm of any such conduct occurring within our learning community.

Some successful methods to address cyber-bullying include educating students on cyber-ethics and cyber-civility. We also encourage students to break the silence and report cyber-bullying to trusted advisors, instructors, or peers.

Prevention Strategies

  • Never give out personal information or passwords.
  • Do not believe everything you see or read.
  • Employ netiquette and cyber-civility, and treat others online just as you would offline.
  • Do not respond if you are treated rudely or receive malicious communication. Online bullies, like offline ones, want you to answer. Do not give them the satisfaction of your response.
  • Do not open messages from unknown senders.
  • You do not have to be always on: turn off, disconnect, unplug. Try actual reality instead of virtual reality! Give yourself a break, and spend time with your family and friends offline.

General safety tips in the online environment

  • Enable filter and block options on your personal computer.
  • Do not open strange email links.
  • Do not share personal or identifying information during online chats or messages.
  • Read website privacy policies before giving any personal information.
  • Ensure websites offer secure connections.
  • Do not respond to offensive or potentially dangerous emails or other online communications.
  • Keep your full name, social security number, address, phone number, and bank or credit card account numbers to yourself.

Resource: www.cyberbullying.org

How does Ashford University treat cyber-bullying?
Ashford University takes harassment and discrimination in any form seriously, and we consider cyber-bullying to be a form of harassment that compromises a safe and equal-opportunity learning community. AU students are asked to comply with the University Student Community Standards that prohibit harassment and discrimination, and to join the effort to foster a safe and equal-opportunity learning community by becoming familiar with the Rights and Responsibilities of students at the University. The Student Community Standards and Rights and Responsibilities can be found in Section II of the Ashford University at www.ashford.edu/catalog.

Identified acts of harassment or discrimination will be dealt with in accordance with University policies regarding harassment and/or discrimination as defined in the University Catalog:

Harassment: An act, verbal or nonverbal, that causes a person to feel intimidated, threatened, abused, or assaulted. At least partial evidence that harassment has occurred is based upon the feelings of the offended party. Harassment includes conduct that has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for a student, faculty, or staff member and has the effect of substantially interfering with the academic performance or extracurricular activity of a student or the work performance of a faculty/staff member. (Ashford University 2010/11 Academic Catalog, p. 9)

Discrimination: Any distinction, derogatory reference, or favor for or against an individual compared to others that is based upon an individual's gender, race, color, religion, sex, age, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other trait or characteristic protected by law. (Ashford University 2010/11 Academic Catalog, p. 9)

If you believe you are being harassed or are the victim of discrimination, you are encouraged to reach out to a trusted advisor or instructor. If you witness harassment or discrimination, please report it. It is critical that all members of our community are personally aware of their influence within the learning environment. Being a positive influence begins with breaking the silence that often accompanies harassment of this nature.

Students who wish to report a concern or complaint relating to discrimination or harassment may do so by reporting the concern to the Office of Student Grievance Resolution via email at grievance.resolution@ashford.edu, or via phone at 866.974.5700 ext. 2206. Click to get more information from the Office of Student Grievance Resolution.

References
Ashford University Academic Catalog. (2010-2011). Clinton, Iowa: Ashford University.

Dear Colleague Letter: Office of the Assistant Secretary. (October 26, 2010). Retrieved December 16, 2010, from US Department of Education website, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html

Dear Colleague Letter: Prohibited Disability Harassment. (April 1, 2000). Retrieved December 16, 2010, from US Department of Education’s website http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/disabharassltr.html

Stop Cyberbullying. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from Stop Bullying website, http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/prevention/index.html

What Can Be Done About Cyberbullying? (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from Cyberbullying.org website, www.cyberbullying.org

Resources for Additional Research
Attorney General (1999). 1999 Report on cyberstalking: a new challenge for law enforcement and industry. In Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section United States Department of Justice. Retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/cyberstalking.htm

Garner, B.A. (Ed.) (1999). Black’s Law Dictionary (7th Ed.). St. Paul, Minnesota: West Group.

Rose, V. (February 23, 2009). Cyberstalking. In Old Research Report. Retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/rpt/2009-R-0117.htm

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376-385.

The National Center for Victims of Crime (2003). Cyberstalking. In The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32458

Working to Halt Online Abuse. (1997-2010). Online Safety. In Working to Halt Online Abuse. Retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/online.shtml

Videos
An Important Message from Ellen about Bullying. (2010). Facebook. Video retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=707767146803

Pres. Obama MTV – Cyberbullying. (October 14, 2010). YouTube. Video retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxEoL-LZHGc

"Real Housewives of DC" Speak Out Against LGBT Bullying. (2010). Facebook. Video retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=483322245638

What is Digital Citizenship? (2010). Facebook. Video retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=693016387443