Bullying not just a K-12 issue

By Seneca White
February 6, 2018


Bullying is something that can be an ongoing cycle if nothing is done to the bully or about the situation. There have been a lot of suicides that have occurred over the years due to someone being bullied.

(From top-left to bottom-right) Todd, Weishuhn, Parsons and Pott lost their lives because of bullying. Photos from Amanda Todd LegacyWikipediaGlen Canning and Daily News.

Amanda Toddwho was 15 years old, hanged her herself on Oct. 10, 2012 due to her being cyberbullied.

Kenneth Weishuhn died on April 14, 2012. He was 14 years old and killed himself due to bullying because of his sexual orientation.

Rehtaeh Parsons, who was 17 years old, committed suicide on April 7, 2013 because of photos online of her alleged gang rape.

Audrie Pott, 15, committed suicide on Sept. 12, 2012 due to her being sexually assaulted by three guys. A documentary was later made about all the bullying she was facing leading up to her death.

Recently, on Dec. 5, 23-year-old August Ames committed suicide due to the excessive amount of tweets talking about her pornographic film.

These are not all of the suicides due to bullying but just a few that made headlines.

Some may think that bullying is just in grade schools but that is a misconception. Bullying is not just a K-12 issue.

Sophomore English major and Lock Haven University student Veronica Flynn knows about this firsthand and said it is an issue unlimited by grade.

Flynn said, “It’s not about what grade you are in; It’s about if the bully ever got help or faced a consequence. If not, odds are they are going to keep doing it.”

If bullies are not taught to take responsibility for their actions or are not disciplined, they will bring these tendencies with them in later parts of their life. Bullying has been found to occur among college undergraduates with 18.5 percent of students reporting having been bullied once or twice and 22 percent reporting being the victim of cyberbullying.

Flynn originally thought bullying would not be an issue in college and was surprised when she got there.

“It’s crazy how as a kid you are excited to go to college and be on your own, to being 20 and wanting your college experience to be over. That is how I felt when I was in my second year of college,” Flynn said. “It felt like high school all over except new people. Every day, I felt like I was getting tortured for just being myself.”

In the halls of Lock Haven University, hundreds of students are walking, conversing and just trying to live in the college experience just like Flynn was.

Normally when you ask someone who is currently in college or who recently graduated to describe their experience at college, they might say fun, eventful, exhausting, challenging or worthwhile; however, that is not the case for people who experience any form of bullying in college.

According to Indiana State University, of college students who said they experienced being cyberbullied, 25 percent reported being harassed through a social networking site, 21 percent reported that they received harmful text messages, 16 percent said they received harmful emails and 13 percent said it was through instant messages.

Flynn said, “Well, I did get bullied in grade school but who didn’t? Because at that age, kids just want to impress other kids by mostly bullying, but I never thought that mindset would move into a college setting.”

Bullying can affect physical and emotional health, both short-term and later in life. It can lead to physical injury, social problems, emotional problems and even death. Those who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems, headaches and problems adjusting to school.

Laura Gardner, director of student counseling and health services at Lock Havensays that it is not accepted on any college grounds and school needs to take responsibility if bullying does take place.

“All students— regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, physical condition, popularity or weight— can be targets of bullying and cyberbullying. Apart from our moral and social responsibility, for educators, bullying on campus simply cannot be tolerated.”

It isn’t big to make others feel small. Photo from Flickr: Vanier College.

She sat in an empty classroom with sunlight creeping through the windows. Flynn talked about how the bullying started at Lock Haven.

“It started out with just one person picking on me and ending with people picking on me with their phones and computers,” Flynn said. “I was bullied both in person and over the internet, but I had to be strong for not only myself but for others out there who may not be strong enough to stick up for themselves.”

There are so many instances of people bullying others and it results in a much bigger uproar than just fear.

“Bullying is a real issue and needs to be identified and addressed on campuses with victim support and training on anti-bullying,” Gardner said. “Reports indicate that victims and bullies have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors than those who haven’t been involved with bullying.”

The ultimate goal is to stop bullying before it starts. Research on preventing and addressing bullying is still developing. School-based bullying prevention programs are widely implemented but infrequently evaluated, based on a review of the limited research on school-based bullying prevention.

As to what to do about the cycle of bullying especially on college grounds, Gardner said, “The biggest problem here is that kids are afraid to speak up when things are bad. These young adults need to know that their parents are there for them with open hearts, minds and ears. Ask your child about his or her life. Listen when your kid says there’s something wrong. Don’t brush it off with ‘kids will be kids’ and let them know that it gets better.” 

Flynn said, “This issue is much bigger than me. There will always be bullies as long we give them the power to rule over us with fear. It’s time we all stood up against the bullies in our society with our own national zero-tolerance policy. We need to come together and make sure this new epidemic stops right now.”

Seneca White

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