Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cyber bullying grows up

By Leah Poulton, Communications & Marketing Office

With young people spending more and more time online, cyber bullying has become a hot topic in the media in recent years. However, most reports tend to focus on it in regards to elementary or high school students. But what happens after high school? Does the bullying stop?

Apparently not, says Elaine-Kaitlyn Wong, a fourth-year Bachelor of Child and Youth Care student. She presented her research project on this topic at Student Research Days at Douglas on March 30. As part of her project, she asked 29 people aged 19-25 about their experiences with online bullying.

The answers she got were surprising.

76% of those asked said they have engaged in or have been a victim of cyber bullying. 72% said they know someone else who has been involved in it.

They were then asked, if they were in fact being bullied, who would they go to for help? 100% said they would go to a friend rather than seeking help from a professional, like a school counselor or instructor.

So why the hesitation to get professional help?

The answer is two-fold, says Wong. The five professionals she interviewed all said they were unaware that cyber bullying was an issue in this demographic, despite her evidence that proves otherwise. However, this may be in part because those involved in the bullying are not talking about it.

So what’s the solution? Get the professionals online, says Wong.

“My thoughts are that in future studies I would like to look more into cyber counselling, which is an emerging profession.”

For now, the goal is awareness. Wong plans to present her findings at a conference next month in Winnipeg. She also plans to address the issue further as part of her Master’s Degree.

Student Research Days is an annual event that showcases the research of Douglas College students. This year's event, held on March 30-31, 2010, featured nearly 200 students from across all College Faculties presenting over 100 research project posters on a diverse range of topics. The event continues to raise the profile and enthusiasm for student research at the College.

Next year's student research days will be held on March 28, 2011 at David Lam Campus and March 29, 2011 at New Westminster Campus. Look for registration forms and a call for exhibitors in the Fall, check the Student Research Days page for more information.

With photos and contributions from Trista Orchard