Bullying Doesn’t Stop At Grade School

Being picked on by your peers is humiliating and leaves lasting psychological scars that are carried throughout your life. 

When we think of bullying being picked on at the playground, being shoved in a locker, or being called names in class might come to mind. 

But bullying is such a modern dilemma that extends beyond the classroom, infiltrating colleges, the workplace and more. 

Sending our kids off to college is a bittersweet time where we are excited for all the future holds, but also saddened by the empty nest and childhood goodbyes. 

All kids are inundated with homework and class schedules when beginning college, but the social aspect is just as consuming.

Sure, there are the awkward moments with the first college crush, the first invite to a party, and the first time you are called on in class, but beyond that struggles should be at a minimum.

If only that were the case.

Just as in grade school when the class bully would call names and push around the new kid, so does the inconsiderate young adult in college.

What exactly is bullying defined as?

According to StopBullying.Gov, a leading resource for bullying terms and legal resource, it is defined as follows:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Bullying is a real public health concern, and is harmful no matter what age it occurs; for the bully, victim, and bystanders. 

In a 2013 study by Kathleen Rospenda et al., titled ‘Bullying Victimization Among College Students: Negative Consequences for Alcohol Use’, it was found that 43% of students experience bullying at school, while 33% are attacked at work. 

Those are alarming statistics for young adults who already have so many pressures on them transitioning into the next phase of their life. 

No individual should ever have to succumb to bullying, and with the advancement of the digital age, it has only gotten worse. 

Social media provides a platform for friends and family to connect, but also for predators to target you with virtually no defense. 

It is much easier to be bold behind a screen where you don’t have to confront your victim than it is to create conflict face-to-face. 

There are three basic forms of bullying: Physical, Verbal, and Social. 

Physical is when contact is made, verbal is when derogatory statements are made in person, and social bullying is when the victim is harmed “through relationships and reputation,” according to The Quad. 

Cyberbullying uses the latter two methods, and although it doesn’t begin with violence, it can certainly end with it. 

Sharing sensitive information about the victim, stalking them online, threatening, exploiting, humiliating, and doxing (publicly posting private contact information online) are all forms of cyberbullying. 

Victims of bullying are subject to higher rates of alcohol abuse, according to a 2014 study by Rospenda et al. in the Journal of Addictive Diseases.

As if college students need another reason to drink alcohol!

So, what can one do about this unfortunate confrontation for college students?

Access support systems, or create one if needed. Friends, family, organizations, and counselors can be a great resource for those going through a tough time. 

Be aware of warning signs that tell you a loved one is in need. Is there a change in behavior? Withdrawal from academic or social circles? 

Try to get out of the environment where the bullying occurs. It may mean changing classes, dorm rooms, or sports teams, but staying physically and mentally healthy is worth a shift in your life.

Keep record of when the bullying happens by taking notes, recording, and holding onto any physical evidence that you get. 

At the present moment, there are only legal protections for students grade k-12 against bullying,  but that doesn’t mean you have to take it.

College campuses have rules of conduct that a bully may be breaking, which may result in expulsion or disciplinary action. 

If the bullying steps into harassment or stalking, there are legal protections there.

Being picked on may make an individual feel small and insignificant, but that is not the reality of the situation. 

Help bullies to know that they are the ones who minimize themselves when they attack others, showing they are weak in character. 

Prepare college students for the possible confrontation with a bully, giving them tools to handle the situation with confidence. 

Please let us know in the comments section if you have had any conflicts with bullies as an adult, and how you handled it.  

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