Understanding Academic Bullying in an Online Environment as Uncaring Encounter
Background and Objective: The shift to an online from the face-to-face system of pedagogy among Higher educational institutions in the Philippines as a mode of adaptation to the current pandemic has inevitably produced varied set-back among its members, one of which is online bullying. This study. This study, grounded on Halldorsdottir's (1996) theory, explored the structure of bullying, taken as an uncaring encounter, in an online environment within the academic setting.
Methods: Six participants, recruited via a combination of snowball and referral system, were selected based on the following preset criteria: (1) They are nursing students exposed to the online educational system platform for at least one semester and are currently enrolled with at least 18 units (2) They are enrolled in the institution for at least a year at the time of the interview (3) They have witnessed and /or were participants to what they deemed as bullying incident during their online educational experience at least twice, (4) They are willing to express and share their experiences. Narratives from the participants were gathered via two methods: 1) In-depth individual interviews and 2) Storytelling sessions. These narratives were later analyzed using thematic analysis to present the structure of bullying through its expressions, nature, and essence.
Results: From the analysis of the participants' individual experiences, four recurring patterns were gleaned, namely, 1.) Borderless boundaries: the perceived extent of bullying, 2.) Apathetic bystanders as enablers of bullying, 3.) Misplaced empowerment: role assumption in bullying, 4.) Obfuscated reality: The online environment. The essence, "Indifference: The prime ingredient of uncaring," was gathered from these patterns. The patterns gleaned from the narratives posited that bullying, seen as an uncaring encounter, in an online environment on the academic setting is borderless occurring within an obfuscated digital environment, involving apathetic bystanders where the bullied may unconsciously assume the role of the bully in a seemingly apparent role reversal. Primordial to these encounters is the assumption of being indifferent.
Implications: The need for policies and programs that foster empathy and compassion among all academic community members and continued support for students experiencing and witnessing bullying are implied from the findings of this study.
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