Every October is Bullying Awareness Month, which serves to educate individuals and bring awareness to bullying. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
Everyone has experienced some kind of connection to an act of bullying, whether they were the victim, the friend or relative of the victim, or even the bully itself. When one thinks of bullying, they may typically associate it with being something that mostly takes during our primary and secondary education years. While I hate to state the obvious, bullying is not limited to age and what stage of life you are in. And bullying in college is very real.
You would think that the issue of bullying would decrease after high school or an issue the children would outgrow, but again, it is not. However, bullying on a college campus can be hard to address. One reason is that professors tend to not be as concerned because of the fact that we are in college, so they are less likely to try and mediate interpersonal disputes.
A lot of students who come to college are on their own for the first time, no longer having their main support system of their family or their regular group of friends. When bullying is added to all the other stresses that we as college students go through, like trying to balance classes, figuring out your financial situation, it can really take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health. It can really make a college student feel isolated, angry, helpless and frustrated; they may start to skip class or social events to avoid opening up the opportunity for them to be bullied. Bullying can eventually lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and in more severe cases, self-harm and suicide.
Cyberbullying is very prevalent among college students, especially because everything revolves around social media now. We look to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. to see what’s popping, what’s going on elsewhere, who is doing what, whatever. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but sometimes those opinions are better left unsaid. Words, regardless of whether they are verbal or a text, they can truly hurt. And you don’t know if your words are going to be someone’s breaking point. Oh and humiliating someone, exposing them, or threatening to leak something private, is not okay at all either.
If you are a bully, stop. Stop projecting your insecurities onto someone else to make them feel like they are less than when they are more than enough. What do you gain from that? Let me know.
If you have been bullied or know someone that has been bullied, know that it is not and never will be your fault. You did nothing wrong, and there is no need to change yourself for anyone or anything. If you have someone you can feel comfortable enough to confide in, whether it is a friend, a family member, teacher, etc. please say something, because people will listen and will help you.
If you have lost someone due to bullying, please know that I am sorry for your loss and my heart and my prayers are with you and your family.
And please just be nice, it’s really not that bad. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Not because you may accidentally get the right person on the right day, but because there is no point in making others feel small, isolated, and like they are less than when we don’t want to feel that way ourselves.