Realities of college bullies

Catherine Hyman, Copy Editor

The prevalence of bullying in high schools around the country is a widely recognized issue. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t always end when we think it does.

Bullying, especially cyberbullying, is a problem that affects many college students. With so many other stressors that come with college, such as heavy course loads in combination with financial stress, social lives and trying to find time for sleep, bullying is one more problem that college students simply should not have to face.

According to an article in Elsevier titled “The dangers of the web: Cybervictimization, depression and social support in college students,” the roles of “bully” and “victim” that are often played out during the middle and high school years continue throughout adulthood.

However, the research concerning bullying for college-age students is quite limited. This lack of research often gives us the impression that the bullying doesn’t exist at that age. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true.

I have a friend who has experienced college bullying firsthand, both in person and on the internet. This friend has experienced fellow students mocking his opinions on social media sites simply because these students disagreed with him.

He has been called names and made to feel isolated in groups he participates in. He has spoken to me multiple times about how it can be hurtful when people choose to single him out rather than be kind.

“ I don’t understand why people want to treat other people that way,” he said. “College students are supposed to be more mature than this.”

When I was younger, I thought that the harshness people showed to one another was isolated to the high school atmosphere. I believed that once I came to college, people would suddenly become more mature and kind. I have since come to realize that my friend’s story is not rare.

When we experience bullying in college, the circumstances are often more difficult than they were for younger victims. In college, we can feel more isolated because we are often living away from home and trying to become more independent. Because of this, college victims may try to deal with the pain of bullying on their own. These victims often feel like they have lost their support system, and the pain caused by bullying can be too much to handle.

I think we can all agree that bullying is an issue that most everyone wants to eradicate. But how can we do that?

First, we have to acknowledge that bullying can and does happen to college students. It can happen to any of us — our friends, our classmates and ourselves. We are not isolated from bullying or its effects.

We have to be willing to stand up against bullying no matter what. It should never matter who is being bullied, who is doing the bullying or where the bullying occurs. If you see bullying occur, I challenge you to stand up for the victim. Help the victim feel safe and secure in a college environment where they may feel unsafe.

If you are experiencing bullying in college, it is not your fault. No one ever deserves the pain that being attacked causes. Please know that there are people who are here to support you.

There is no shame in being the victim of bullying. The shame belongs solely to the bully. You have value, no matter what the bully says. You belong at FMU and there is a place on this campus for you.

There are resources provided by FMU for help if you feel like you want or need it. Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your experience — whether it is a counselor, faculty member or other trusted individual, your voice deserves to be heard.