College bullying

We all know the type: the mean kid who picks on other kids relentlessly. Perhaps you are thinking, “We’re in college, that doesn’t happen anymore!” Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Absurd though it may seem, bullying is just as prevalent in college as it is in secondary schools. While most students grow up as they transition from high school into college, sometimes the opposite takes place. Occasionally, students miss this transition entirely and revert to childish antics. This regression occurs, and is widespread throughout campuses, especially in the context of social media.

In university settings, major forms of bullying include sexual harassment, racist behaviors and hazing. Underclassmen are among those more commonly targeted.

Fraternities are frequent offenders in instances of bullying. According to Eastern’s Vice President of Student Development, Bettie Ann Brigham, the danger lies in the fact that fraternities are often “integrated with alcohol and drugs.” People who do not take part in this lifestyle or who are seeking membership in fraternities are often “given a hard time for fun.”

Some people are lucky enough to go through school without being the brunt of bullying, but those who have not been so fortunate are left scarred by the torment that they have endured. Victims are physiologically impacted, often experiencing depression, paranoia, isolation and, in extreme cases, suicide.

“It’s not right,” Brigham said. “It’s not what Christians should be about.”

In this technological age, it is no surprise that cyber-bullying has developed. Facebook, Twitter, texting and the various other types of social media are avenues in which these bullies prey on their victims.

A 2009 AP-MTV survey of about 1,250 people, aged 14-24, found that 50% of those individuals had experienced digitally abusive behavior. It also found that older teens (18-24) and females were more likely to be targeted. As the social media continue to play a significant role in daily life, these numbers will only get higher.

Interestingly, Eastern has had hardly any reported instances of bullying. In the one recorded case, the school’s administration was able to “nip it in the bud,” Brigham said. At Eastern, any kind of situation like this is dealt with immediately.

“The Student Conduct Policy covers bullying,” Brigham said. Eastern does not have specific rules that target bullying, but Brigham believes that Eastern’s biblical standards have a lot to do with why there are not many cases here.

With so few instances of bullying on our own campus, what can we do to alleviate this otherwise widespread problem? “We should ask people who have experienced bullying and talk about it,” Bringham said. Hearing personal stories often helps people open their eyes and come to understand just how bad the problem is.

Brigham also noted how bullying normally occurs in a group, so it is important to break up aggressive groups in order to weaken the power that they have. “Strict rules” and “severe consequences” should be implemented as well, she said.

Eastern is fortunate enough to not have many bullying issues, but that does not mean that we should forget that bullying is a problem for many people, adults included.


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