Entering college is exciting and enticing for many new students. With a fresh start on the horizon you expect to branch out, grow, make new friends, and learn a lot along the way. Getting involved on campus is the best way to ensure that you get the most out of your experience, and it will keep you busy and sustained. For some students however, this sense of purpose and belonging may never come.
Since I was young, I have always been "more mature than my age". I grew up quick, and have always had a knack for problem solving. I saw things, and had a way of understanding and relating to people. As an extrovert, I used humor and kindness to make others comfortable and happy, even though I was dealing with things that didn't make me feel that way inside. Although I hadn't been bullied myself, I knew that it existed around me, and it sickened me. Surely everyone had to grow up eventually, though. Right?
When I got to college, I experienced bullying for the first time. From someone completely unexpected. I treated this person with nothing but kindness, and they turned on me, having never really given me a chance in the first place. What had I done to deserve it? Why, as the victim, was I then ostracized? What could I do to change it? I was baffled and stunned, and I had never felt smaller in my life. Officially an adult, at the age of 18, the situation was a wake up call. We still have much to do as a society.
A study by Health Day News reveals that 15 percent of college students are bullied, 22 percent through cyber bullying. An even greater 42 percent of students have admitted to witnessing student vs student hazing, and another 15 percent have seen their professors get in on the action. Where and when does it end?
One theory for college bullying suggests that college warrants added stress. Brian Van Brunt, a college counselor and president of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association says that "College is a high stress environment... If you look at specialized groups — race, sexual identity, mental health issues, etc. — I think we’re seeing a rise in bullying”. He goes on to say that this generation has been given a "megaphone" and "hasn’t been described well in terms of thinking about how their actions affect others.”
Van Brunt explains that isolation can bring about a more hardened point of view, and suggests that bystander intervention can change the culture of campus bullying. “It’s just reminding people that it’s the impact of your statement, not your intent... we need people on the ground to really step up...We actually need the community to take responsibility and hold each other accountable".
It really comes down to being aware. You may not be experiencing something like this, but for someone else it is real, it is crippling, and it affects their daily interactions. Think about your words and actions before you say and do them. Be the light in someone's life, and always offer your friendship. Aim to spread positivity , and if you just can't bring yourself to be nice- leave people alone and go work on yourself- because that's what's really needed. Take it from this little girl.
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