Harassment can be defined as a behavior which the individual facing it wants to resist. It can be an action, words, or it can be written. The concept is not a newer one, however, with the growing age of time, it has evolved. Harassment is a crime, and the one facing it can press the charges. After the emergence of the internet, harassment has seen a significant rise. Online bullying has risen to such an extent that it has given birth to a new term called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a growing issue that needs to be tackled. No one is safe. Students that face cyberbullying in their online classes are thinking, I don’t want to take my online class. They are trying to avoid harassment by compromising on their education. We need to avoid that. We need to come up with strategies that can protect our students from abuse.
People on social media, on average, faces a lot of harassment. Mostly, women are the victims of cyberbullying online. Unsolicited texts, death threats, and bullying are common predicates that women face in their online classes. Even though harassment is a crime, getting proper treatment and justice is hard. As a society, we need to provide our students with a safe and secure platform where they can learn and flourish creatively. We have to encourage good behavior and punish those individuals that propagate harasser behavior. Online classes always have this stigma attached to it that it is not safe. To ensure that students get both proper and safe education, we need to find ways to avoid harassment concerns in online classes. In this article, we have come up with possible solutions that will minimize the harassment concerns of students in online classes.
We Need to Educate
Firstly, educational institutions have to get their policies straight regarding online harassment. Then, they need to define what constitutes as harassment. Most of the times students aren’t aware of what they are saying to somebody might constitute harassment. There are two types of harassment. One intentional and one unintentional. First, we need to tackle the unintentional one.
We need to educate our students the basic morality we base our lives upon. Educational institutions and teachers must shoulder this responsibility as a whole. By educating what is right and what is wrong, we open up a dialogue that will serve as the first step towards betterment. Students that are ignorant about bad behaviors will contemplate on it and eventually correct themselves. You can take help from Stanford Online Classes as they have build a magnificent system to prevent any of these concerns.
When a student gets harassed, they try to cover it or forget it. They believe nothing can be done about it. This has to stop. As a society, we need to make our educational institutions recognize the importance of this issue. Cyberbullying can break a person. It can break their ability to function, their confidence, and make it lose their creativity. Educational institutions must encourage proper documentation by students.
Students that face harassment online must be encouraged to gather evidence. If they are to get justice, they have to muster up credible evidence. Death threats, abuse, and unsolicited sexual texts are not to be taken lightly. Students, especially the female students that face these threats need to gather logs and screenshot pictures and messages as evidence. You want to make them feel secured and make them think, I feel safe and I think I can take my online class. However, it can be only be done when educational institutions provide students with such a communication process.
Ease the Communication Process
This takes us to our next point. Most of the times students don’t report such events because they are afraid that nobody will take them seriously. You can’t expect students to open up when you are not the one providing them with a platform to open up. It is the duty of educational institutions and teachers to ease the communication process.
We have to encourage our students to stand up for themselves. Online classes can be a brutal space for someone that faces constant cyberbullying. As a dutiful academic institution, you need to be there for your students. You have to put up systems that ensure that students are not left alone in this situation. Cyberbullying has severe psychological impacts. Even if you are successful in dealing with the harasser situation, you still need to deal with the remnants of the abuse suffered by the victim, which was caused by the abuser.
This is where proper counselling comes in. Online classes can easily make you feel isolated. The prospect that you can take your classes from the comfort of your home has negative connotation too. On paper, it provides convenience. However, if you go deeper, you can find that sitting in an empty room with no one around you can be overwhelming. This is where educational institutions need to do something about it.
Having an experienced psychologist can really help students with their problems. Students that are the victims of cyberbullying will easily get a proper platform to release their problems. Having a psychologist that will ease the cyberbullying problem of students is crucial for educational institutions.
One of the reasons why students don’t stand up for themselves is because they are made to believe that nothing will result out of it. How can you expect a student to say, I like to take my online class if they are not sure that they will get proper treatment? Ensuring that should be the number one priority of academic institutions.
Make sure you come up with strict policies that protect the rights of students. Ensure that everybody is informed of those policies. Encourage students to come out with their stories by implementing a system where a harasser gets their punishment right. Only when you do that, it will allow students to trust the system and encourage them to seek justice.
Ensure a Transparent System of Learning
Online learning is still a new platform that needs to be perfected. Though it will take time but recognizing the issues at hand will be a good first step. If you are an educational institution that is based online, you need to recognize the importance of security. We have to come up with such transparent systems that ensure what is being said and when is being said is recorded.
We have to eradicate all possibilities that led to the emergence of cyberbullying. A transparent online learning system will ensure that. It is easy to let out your thoughts sitting behind a keyboard. For a harasser, this is the perfect opportunity. Everything can be said to anyone at any time with no potential accountability. We have to set our boundaries straight. We need to make those individuals accountable, and it starts with the act of the academic institution.
Lastly, if you are not going to set appropriate punishment, there is no accountability. If there is no punishment, how will students learn? You not only need to protect the students from cyberbullying in their online classes, but also make them realize that they are not alone. And that something’s being done about it. You want to make them feel, I want to take my online class. You want to evoke the feeling of security among them.
In conclusion, progress starts with a will. If you are willing to change things for the better, nothing will stop you. Make online classes a safer place for students by contemplating on the points we have raised.