Researchers from the University of Bedfordshire have worked with Universities UK (UUK) to develop new guidance aimed at helping universities prevent and respond to all forms of online harassment.
The guidance issued today (date) Changing the Culture: Tackling online harassment and promoting online welfare [LINK to full report], uses evidence from the Bedfordshire Cyber Awareness Programme developed by University’s National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR).
Dr Emma Short, Director of the NCCR and a Reader in Cyberpsychology said: “Universities should not assume that students always recognise abusive online behaviour or feel equipped to respond to it, there is a clear responsibility to safeguard students both from abuse, and the perpetration of abuse through a lack of awareness.”
While conducting the research to create this guidance, many universities highlighted the inherent complexity of addressing online harassment as various social media platforms are used extensively by students as part of everyday life.
Dr Short said: “The Bedfordshire Cyber Awareness Programme was designed to create a positive culture change, aiming to achieve an increase in understanding about what constitutes unacceptable online behaviour and promote a greater preparedness to seek help when encountering it.
“Our initial findings did indicate a general tolerance of negative behaviours and a minimisation of possible risks, but changes in attitudes following the training were achieved. Most people indicated the course had increased their readiness and willingness to take action if they witnessed harmful online interactions.”
Bedfordshire was awarded catalyst grant funding by the Office for Students to develop the Bedfordshire Cyber Awareness Programme and it forms a vital part of the University’s Peer Assisted Learning Leaders (PAL) training.
🚨 NEW guidance— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) September 2, 2019
How should universities prevent and respond to all forms of online harassment?
UUK is working with our members to bring about change
👉 Our recommendations https://t.co/U8ZNydZNmT #UUKTackling pic.twitter.com/YAqcq3rtMd
The UUK guidance for universities includes principles and detailed recommendations for universities.
Some of the recommendations the guidance calls on universities to follow include:
The guidance is an extension of UUK’s work to help universities tackle harassment, hate crime and gender-based violence.
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