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Online harassment and its real life consequences

By Ruth Puentespina

Over the summer, racist comments taken from a seemingly harmless chatgroup on social media became the basis for the suspension and expulsion of several students at one of Hong Kong’s local english speaking high schools. Starting the summer going to detention, getting suspended or expelled has recently become more common in the UK with the implementation of its zero tolerance policy toward cyberbullying. Universities UK (UUK) has released guidance for its members on how to tackle online harassment, as this behaviour has become more common across many universities, with many schools failing to recognize just how severe this problem has become. Uniformity across all university policies has become one of the key ways to address what has become such a rampant but inadequately dealt with problem, with compromised mental health being looked to as a preventable consequence of this issue. This begs the question, to what extent must a school take responsibility for the actions of its students? Whatever the stance on that is, it is important to ensure that a safe environment for learning and living is maintained. Students have the right to get the best academic training, including the proper support to maintain emotional and mental well-being.

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