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Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education

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A presentation at the Jisc security conference 2019 by Andy Phippen, professor of digital policy, University of Plymouth and
Emma Bond, director of research, head of the graduate school and professor of socio-technical research, University of Suffolk.

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Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education

  1. 1. Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education Prof Emma Bond and Prof Andy Phippen
  2. 2. bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48366835
  3. 3. 3 mirror.co.uk/news/politics/outrage-tory-uni-society-picture-13350145
  4. 4. Duty of care? • Much used, little understood • Not statutory requirement for safeguarding? • Calls from HE minister that student welfare is “non-negotiable” • Emerging case law? • Thresholds still high, but negligent institutions may be found wanting • Policies at least start to demonstrate a level of due diligence and forethought 4 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  5. 5. Digital natives? 5 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  6. 6. 6 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education Online safety Digital civility Digital wellbeing
  7. 7. 7 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  8. 8. 8 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  9. 9. Student experience of risks one year before university and during time studying at university (n = 320) 9 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Before university (Year 1: happened in last year, n = 130) During university (Year 2,3,4: happened in last year, n = 135)
  10. 10. ‘Recently there has been some hate speech around me online during some student union elections, I’m not allowed to say the name, said some things hateful about me specifically to throw off the campaign…’ Jake, 23 years old
  11. 11. ‘It could be anytime in the day and I would get a message to go ‘I like your purple shoes today’ Claire, 22 years old
  12. 12. Microsystems Mesosystems Macrosystem Exosystem Attitudes and ideologies e.g. Human rights, social and cultural norms Mass media, industry, legal system, governmental policy, national agencies – OfS; UUK; Wider community – IWF; Revenge Porn Helpline; MCF; Constabulary, UKSIC; CIFAS; University – training, student services, personal tutors, course administrators, awareness raising, posters, social media, workshops Peers, friends, family Student Resilience FactorsRisk Factors
  13. 13. Key issues • Unhelpful assumptions – “Digital natives” • Inconsistency of knowledge - lack of national policy around “online” education or duty of care • Acceptable abuse – online discourse across the student body, blurred lines between offensive and hate speech • Role of stakeholders – many students have voiced concerns about the response of their institution when concerns were raised, highlighting a lack of consistency of response or even taking concerns seriously 13 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  14. 14. FOI to all institutions June – November 2019
  15. 15. Phase 1 questions 1. Your University polic(ies) addressing how the institution tackles online abuse (including image based abuse and online harassment) or hate speech online in the student body 2. The name of the member of your university executive team directly responsible for student safeguarding 3. The name of the member of your university governing body/board directly responsible for student safeguarding 4. Details of how students can report incidents of online abuse (including image based abuse and online harassment) or hate speech online in your institution 5. The number of student disciplinaries where online abuse (including image based abuse and online harassment) or hate speech online was a factor per year for each academic year from 2015-16 to 2017-18 6. Number of reports made to the police where online abuse (including image based abuse and online harassment) or hate speech online was a factor per year for each academic year from 2015-16 to 2017-18 15 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  16. 16. Preliminary findings “We have been asked to clarify your definition of ‘student safeguarding’ as the University would normally use the term ‘safeguarding’ concerns raised about individuals under the age of 18” 16 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  17. 17. Preliminary findings • 110 of the 130 HEIs had a named person responsible for safeguarding • But only 43 had a named member of their university governing body/board directly responsible for student safeguarding • Of the 266 policies submitted, 60% had no mention of “online” • Little evidence of training related to online abuse 17 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  18. 18. Preliminary findings “The University is not obligated to hold these designated roles. As we are a Higher Education Institution this places us in a different position to school/college institutions and we are not required to designate specific person(s) to be directly responsible for safeguarding”. 18 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  19. 19. Policies used by Universities to adress online harrassment and hate crime 19 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 StudentDicipine/Codeof conduct/Regulations/Registry /Charter BullyingandHarrassment guidleines/policy ITregs/AUP Safeguardingpolicy Studentcomplaints Mentalhealthandwellbeing Reportandsupport Useofsociamedai Codeofpracticeonfreedomof speech Dignity/resepctatstudy Acceptablebehaviour Sexualviolenceandmisconduct Fitnesstopractice Hatecrime Inclusion/equalityanddiversity Safegardingchildren Domesticabusepolicy Policyonrelationshipsstafand students Preventduty Exenuatingcirumstances
  20. 20. What works? 20 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education University wide approach Specialist staff training Re- evaluation of online safety policies Advisory groups Awareness raising Data monitoring
  21. 21. Available to download here 21 Online abuse and safeguarding in higher education
  22. 22. Thank you customerservices@jisc.ac.uk jisc.ac.uk Prof Emma Bond and Prof Andy Phippen e.bond@uos.ac.uk andy.phippen@plymouth.ac.uk

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