Deeper understanding’ of bullying needed

A little more than 200 students have responded to a bullying survey emailed to a random sample of students by the Office of Community standards, according to Winston Roberts, coordinator for community standards and dean for community development.

The survey was sent out in order to better understand how pervasive the issues of bullying and harassment are at the University level, specifically at Seton Hall, according to Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students.

Van Norman said she had the idea to survey students because she felt there needed to be a deeper understanding of the issue.

“There has been a lot of studies regarding bullying in lower levels of education, however, very little has been done at the college level,” Van Norman said.

She added the survey was not only important to find out the extent of bullying on campus, but also to help understand how students define and perceive bullying.

Roberts agreed, stating the impetus behind the survey was to “measure students’ knowledge of timely topics, such as bullying and cyber bullying.”

He added that he was unsure how many students he had emailed for the survey, although it was a random sample of students.

The survey asked questions regarding whether a student was ever bullied, when and what kind of bullying was experienced, such as interpersonal, social networking and instant messages. Whether the surveyed student had bullied others was also addressed, including why the student bullied.

The survey also targeted the media coverage of bullying, including whether coverage has affected a student’s view of bullying. Finally, the student was asked if they had ever witnessed bullying on-campus, what kind and how Seton Hall could improve bullying education.

Van Norman and Roberts said the results of the survey should be known by the end of the semester. He also said there was no closing date for the survey, but based on results compiled at the end of the semester, he would decide what to do from there.

Roberts added he had not yet looked over any of the student responses from the completed surveys.

Van Norman said while there have been few reported incidents of bullying or harassment at Seton Hall, it would be wise to gain a more thorough understanding of the scope of the problem.

“It is reasonable to expect some of what students experience in their early years transfers to college,” Van Norman said, explaining that bullying can be a problem for school-age children and teens.

Van Norman said most bullying problems she has experienced at Seton Hall have had to do with websites where students can anonymously post messages about their peers, which she said were “cowardly and cruel.”

Juicy Campus, a former gossip website, ended in February 2009 due to a lack of advertising revenue.

According to Kelly Sullivan, staff psychologist for Counseling Services at Seton Hall, the effects of bullying, which include “low self-esteem, social anxiety and avoidance,” are reasons many students come to counseling rather than actual bullying occurring on-campus.

Currently, the University deals with incidents of bullying on a case-by-case basis, investigating and adjudicating each case individually, Van Norman said.

Van Norman said bullying is in direct contradiction with the University’s mission statement, which calls Seton Hall a home for the heart, mind and spirit. She urged any student who feels he or she is being bullied to come forward so the problem can be resolved.

Caitlin Carroll can be reached at caitlin.carroll@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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