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Cyberbullying study finds it does not stop after high school

Cyberbullying is an area of rising concern in higher education. A multi-institutional study conducted by the Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Higher Education is providing insight into just how prevalent the problem is among undergraduate students.

More than one-third of respondents to an initial spring 2011 survey of OHIO students reported knowing at least one person who had been the target of cyberbullying, and more than one-sixth of the respondents reported being a target themselves, since graduating from high school.

Cyberbullying was defined, for the purpose of the survey, as "the intentional use of information and communication technologies to hurt, threaten, embarrass, annoy, blackmail, or otherwise target another individual or group, and it can be done through texting, gaming devices, internet, IM, email, images, social networking sites, or other social media outlets."

Results and analysis of the Ohio University survey were recently published as a chapter of the book "Misbehavior Online in Higher Education" (2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited).

"The topic of cyberbullying is relatively new in terms of research being conducted," said Kent Smith, vice president for student affairs at OHIO. "Student affairs professionals, and higher education in general, need to be aware of the prevalence of cyberbullying and the ways in which it can occur in order to be able to address it with students."

In addition to Smith, the research team included Anne Lombard, dean of student life and experiential learning at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Jennifer Grimm, residence director at Belmont University; and Brandon Wolfe, senior graduate research associate for the Center for Higher Education at OHIO.

The research team replicated the survey at two additional institutions during Winter 2012. Team members presented the compiled findings at two national conferences in March 2012.

The team's first presentation, at the national conference of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) in Phoenix, was a sponsored program of NASPA's Knowledge Community for Technology. Findings were also presented to the American College Personnel Association's national conference in Louisville.

The research team is currently organizing a webinar to further share findings from the cyberbullying study in late summer. The book "Misbehavior Online in Higher Education" is now available online.

For more information about the study or planned webinar, contact Brandon Wolfe at bw129601@ohio.edu.