Bullying is something we all hope to have outgrown by college. Sadly, it’s a social behavior that occurs in every walk of life and is a lot more rampant on college campuses than people realize.
As a time of excessive growth and experimentation, college is by nature a really sensitive era in a young woman’s life. You are away from the governing eye of parents and life-long peers for the first time in your life, free to explore all the sides of your personality and potential.
As a result, there also exists a palpable climate of judgment, intense competition, jealousy, and victimization. Bullying happens in the hallway. It happens in class. It happens at parties. And worst of all, it happens online. With no authoritative presence and so much freedom, bullying is as possible as a prom night disaster.
According to a Health Day News study as reported by Nobullying.com, 15 percent of students report being bullied in one form or another during college. The most common forms are exclusion, hazing rituals, and cyber harassment. The Internet enables modern antagonists to torture their prey through an innocuous portal, with little or no consequences for their poisonous actions.
So what can you do? They key to navigating today’s bully climate is awareness. If you can recognize the signs of bullying early on, it’s easier to put an end to the situation in a calm and rational way. Whether you are the target or the assailant, speaking openly is always the first step. Acknowledge the problem and your feelings- maybe you and your bully have a lot more common ground than it seems.
Perhaps she never realized that he was your boyfriend and the whole mess is a misunderstanding. Or maybe the girl who barks nasty comments to you in the dinning hall has just lost her mother. Communication is the key to all relationships, friendly or not. It’s so important to keep an open mind, because you never know what life is like through someone else’s eyes.
Unfortunately, sometimes negotiation tactics do fail. When confronted with a more serious bully situation, the best thing to do is to cut off all portals of communication. Block them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other cyber connections. Stop responding to their messages, and stop acknowledging their abuse. The goal of bullying is to get a reaction, so take away the matches before fire can catch.
If this doesn’t succeed, reach out to someone you trust within your college community. A favorite teacher, an RA, or an older student. In extreme cases, contact the police. Bullying exists anywhere there is insecurity and ignorance, so never feel that you’re alone.