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Lessons learned from Virginia Tech also clearly show


incidents of targeted violence are rarely sudden, impulsive acts. Prior to most targeted violence incidents, other peo- ple knew about the attacker’s idea and/or plan to attack, the attacker’s behavior caused others to be concerned or the attacker become disconnected from their friends and family. In fact, with Cho, over 70 red flags in his behavior were identified by Virginia Tech Review Panel Report.


COSTS OF IGNORANCE AND LACK OF ACTION The costs and consequences of not addressing bullying/ harassment in higher education are significantly higher than the costs of prevention. With limited funding, limited resources and tight budg-


ets, college leaders cannot afford to ignore or miss even one at-risk individual with behavioral red flags. The Department of Education and Office of Civil


Rights (OCR) has sent out three “Dear Colleague Letters” (DCL), one in October 2010, one in April of 2011 and one in June of 2011, to all campus leaders outlining the federal requirements for identifying and responding to harassment/bullying, sexual violence and gender-based harassment. The OCR DCLs refer to Title IX requirements when a


school knows or reasonably should know about student- on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment. Title IX requires the school to:  Investigate the incident  Take immediate action to stop the harassment  Take action to prevent the recurrence of harassment  Address its effects


UPDATE POLICIES, PROCEDURES, PROCESSES AS NEEDED Failure to comply with these requirements can result in lost federal funding and support. As we saw with the fed- eral investigation of Notre Dame, the costs of a federal investigation, unwanted headlines, reactive responses, legal fees and potential increased insurance costs can have a major impact on a college’s bottom line. Even more expensive are the costs to a family, a campus and a community when a student’s life is lost.


DOES BULLYING HAVE AN EFFECT ON STUDENT ENROLLMENT? While safety may not be a strong positive selling point to attract students to a school, it can be a powerful negative factor that will turn new students away. Recent studies regarding student enrollment and college selection have revealed that high school seniors increasingly weigh cam- pus safety as one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating potential colleges. Eighty percent of sen-


TODAYSCAMPUS.COM | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 37


iors report that campus safety is a somewhat or very impor- tant college evaluation factor.


WHAT CAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS DO TO PREVENT BULLYING? Colleges cannot prevent what they don’t know about. Higher education institutions must educate their students and staff on behavior that constitutes bullying/harassment and the consequences of these actions. All students and faculty must also understand their responsibilities for iden- tifying and reporting bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and other incidents. Currently, only 1 of 10 incidents are reported by students, which creates a huge gap of un- reported and un-documented and un-preventable incidents on campus. Studies show students may have a sense of distrust or


lack of confidence in their campus services putting disci- plinary procedures into action. Students may also fail to report their problems because they feel it will blow over by itself. Worst of all, many students internalize the bul- lying and hide it from their friends and family due to embarrassment or inability to self-admit.


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