By RICHARD A. SMITH, Staffordshire Union LeaderAUBURN, United Kingdom (Reuters) – Online crimes at some universities have been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years and many are struggling to cope with a surge in cyberbullying and hate speech that has become a serious threat to safety, the head of a leading university security organisation said.
“The sheer volume of people using these platforms has made it difficult for institutions to control and control them,” said Richard A. Smith, president of the Association of British Universities (ABU).
“We are concerned that many universities are not doing enough to protect their students and staff, and have therefore increased the volume of attacks that occur.”
In a statement, ABU said it had increased the number of staff working on anti-harassment, cyber-bullying, and anti-hate speech teams to 1,200 from 500 in the last 12 months.
The number of incidents involving students and their families on social media, including on Twitter and Facebook, had also increased, Smith said.
A spokesperson for ABU, which represents the University of Nottingham, said the number was a reflection of the increased response to threats and harassment on social networking sites.
“We have received numerous reports of harassment, bullying and bullying on social platforms and are currently assessing how best to respond to this,” the spokesperson said.
University leaders and staff have been concerned for years about online harassment and the impact it has on students’ safety, Smith added.
“There is no way to know how many incidents are being reported or how often,” he said.
“The issue has not just been on the social media platforms but also in the physical space, in classrooms and in the classroom itself.”
I think the real issue is we need to do more to help protect our students and to help keep them safe.”(Reporting by Richard A Smith; Editing by Richard Boulton)