Bridgewater, Va. – Bullying is a worldwide issue that affects many individuals enrolled in school, but while many people believe bullying ends with high school graduation, it can progress into young adult life in college.
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 behaviors associated with bullying include “making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”
Bullying impacted more than one out of every five students in 2016, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. Due to the rise of social media, cyberbullying has risen over the years and affects more individuals.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place digitally through “electronic forms of contact,” such as text messages and social media. The National Bullying Prevention Center reports that the percentage of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying has nearly doubled between the years of 2007-2016.
Some short-term effects of bullying in school include “social isolation, feelings of shame, sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits and low self-esteem,” according to Remedy Health Media. Some students try to avoid school altogether in order to not approach their bullies.
The act of bullying, both physically and digitally, has long-term effects that persist beyond middle and high school.
Students who are bullied have an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of loneliness. This disrupts many areas of a student’s life.
Students are also at risk for suicidal thoughts or actions, post-traumatic stress disorder from bullying incidents and self-destructive behaviors including self-harm. Because bullying is a traumatic experience, it follows students for the rest of their lives.
However, many students see college as a new beginning. Based on the findings from the Boston University School of Education, college gives young people the opportunity to start over, saying the “overall picture is hopeful.”
While college is viewed as a fresh start, the researchers at Boston University also acknowledged that college can be liberating but stressful on students who have experienced bullying.
Jennifer Green, a lead researcher on this study, said, “There are great new opportunities, but also new academic and social challenges, as well as identity adjustments.”
In some cases, it can be hard for some college students to overcome those challenges because they are still experiencing bullying on a college campus from someone who has more power over them.
Bullying is not only a school issue for young children, but also for college students and adults in the workforce. It’s important to understand bullying as an issue that doesn’t have an age limit.
Adult bullying can happen online, at work, and in relationships. The Cyberbullying Research Center gives tips on how to combat adult bullying that include not retaliating, contacting law enforcement if physical harm is threatened, talking to an employer and blocking any unwanted numbers.
College students can be vulnerable to many different types of bullying and it often goes overlooked. Realizing bullying has an effect on college students can change the way people view bullying and its impact.