Bullying and cyber bullying
Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a person or group, that creates a risk to both physical and mental health and safety.
Bullying can occur between students, by a student towards a staff member, or by a staff member towards a student.
Repeated behaviours that may constitute bullying include:
- verbal or written abuse in emails or other forms of electronic communication, including abusive, insulting, belittling, intimidating or offensive language; spreading rumours; teasing; displaying offensive posters or graffiti;
- threats of violence, intimidation and harmful or offensive initiation practices;
- homophobic slurs, gestures or other hostile behaviour relating to gender or sexuality;
- making someone the brunt of pranks or practical jokes;
- encouraging others to participate in bullying behaviour;
- excluding members of a study group where it is not reasonable to do so; and
- interfering with another person's materials, equipment or personal effects.
Online and social media participation is an important aspect of studying at Deakin.
Cyberbullying can take many forms including:
- publicly posting hurtful comments on social media;
- abusive or offensive messages or images on mobile phones, social media or online discussion boards;
- sending emails that vilify, demean or cause humiliation to a person or group;
- posting embarrassing photos on social networks;
- setting up hate websites or blogs to vilify someone; and
- using chat rooms, instant messaging or gaming areas to harass someone.
Once material is published online it creates a 'digital footprint' that can last indefinitely. Search engines will show posts years after their publication date and comments can be forwarded worldwide in seconds.
There is no such thing as a private social media platform. Even if inappropriate posts are made after hours and on a personal computer or mobile phone, disciplinary action may result if a connection can be reasonably made between the post and study at Deakin.
This would be the case, for example, where a disparaging or threatening remark can be seen by other students and staff and reported to the target of the comment.
Bullying and cyberbullying are not tolerated at Deakin University. Anti-bullying policies and procedures set out clear expectations of behaviour, including online activity and social media use, as well as everyone's rights and responsibilities to ensure a supportive, inclusive, fair and safe learning environment for all.
As a Deakin student
You have the right to:
- study in an environment free from bullying;
- be respected and valued regardless of your personal characteristics or background;
- have opportunities to reach your full potential and participate in all aspects of university life;
- make a complaint if you are being bullied; and
- protection from victimisation if you make a complaint.
You have the responsibility to:
- treat your fellow students with dignity and respect;
- respect the opinions and beliefs of others;
- engage in appropriate and rational discussion in areas of disagreement; and
- avoid any behaviour that may offend, humiliate, intimidate, exclude or cause injury to others.
What to do
Consider addressing the issue directly
Telling someone that you find their behaviour inappropriate can be an effective way to resolve some concerns, especially where inappropriate behaviour is caused by ignorance or insensitivity rather than being deliberate.
If you take direct action to resolve bullying, try to:
- stay calm;
- seek advice before acting on your complaint;
- be clear on the outcome you seek;
- focus on the behaviour, not the person;
- talk about the effects of the behaviour on you; and
- make a clear request that the behaviour needs to stop.
In the first instance
If the behaviour is directed to you, write details of the behaviour in your diary and save all the evidence. Remember to record the time, date, name of person(s), location, what was said, witnesses' names, etc.
If the behaviour is cyberbullying directed to you:
- block and report – use online features to block messages. Keep copies and report the abuse to the Deakin eSolutions Service Desk or the owner of the social media platform;
- save all evidence – keep timed and dated records and copies of messages, photos, websites, texts, online conversations; and
- don't retaliate.
If you witness cyberbullying, offer support to the person who has been bullied and consider writing a post that points out the inappropriate content and behaviour.
For advice and support about how to manage incidents of unfair and unreasonable behaviour, including bullying, please contact Safer Community, Deakin's free, confidential support service for students and staff who experience concerning, threatening or inappropriate behaviour.
You can also speak with:
- Unit chairs (if it affects a particular unit);
- Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers;
- DUSA Advocates; and
- Deakin counsellors.
Consider making a complaint
If the matter cannot be directly resolved or direct action has been unsuccessful, you can lodge a formal complaint.
Deakin will ensure that all complaints of bullying and cyber-bullying are treated in a sensitive, fair, and timely manner; that privacy and confidentiality of all parties is respected; and that people involved in all aspects of the resolution of complaints are protected from victimisation.
Penalties can be applied to perpetrators of bullying and cyber-bullying including formal disciplinary proceedings for misconduct.
External reporting and information are available on the eSafety Commissioner website.