Bullying in College Causes Big Problems
Bullying in schools has reached dangerous levels. 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 will experience bullying – either as victim or instigator. And, the repercussions extend beyond the psychological damage being inflicted. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shootings with revenge reported as the greatest motivator for these tragic events.
Though most of the attention has focused on stopping bullying at the elementary and high school levels, but these atrocities don’t end there. Bullying at the collegiate level is a serious problem. The University of Buffalo reports that 18.5% of college undergraduates have been bullied. That’s over 3 million students nationwide – enough to populate the state of Iowa.
That number only increases when you look online. 22% of college students report being victim of cyberbullying. Perhaps more shocking, 9% of undergrads admit to cyberbullying others. And, those are just the ones willing to speak out – less than half of bullied minority students report incidents.
All that bullying leads to students missing out on getting the educational opportunities they worked so hard to earn. Upwards of 160,000 students skip class every day to avoid bullying. At least they can get notes online, but it’s not a sustainable solution. Some students never make it back to class. Each year, 100,000 students drop out of school all together. And that’s nowhere close to the worst of outcomes.
Many fraternities, sororities, clubs, and teams maintain a culture of hazing hidden from public view. They claim a distinction should be made between their activities and bullying. These institutions argue that hazing serves to initiate members into a group, while bullying is done to exclude the target.
Yet, the same destructive principles exist for hazing and bullying. Both use a combination of verbal, psychological, and/or physical abuse to strip their victims of power and put them in a state of fear or discomfort. Left unchecked these rituals turn to horror stories. Allegations of drug, sexual, and physical abuse abound.
Earlier this year, 37 members of a Baruch College fraternity had criminal charges brought against them for hazing that resulted in the death of freshman Chun “Michael” Deng. The frat-brothers allegedly took turns tackling the first-year pledge while he was blindfolded and wearing a heavy backpack resulting in head trauma and ultimately his death.
In 2013, charges were brought against three San Jose University students who allegedly racially bullied their black roommate. They were accused of nicknaming the 17-year-old student “Three-Fifths,” in reference to a U.S. constitutional provision that counted slaves as “three-fifths of all other persons.” In addition to the verbal abuse, the trio is reported to have attempted to clamp a bicycle lock around their roommate’s neck while decorating their suite with Confederate and Nazi symbols.
All this bullying has to stop. No longer can we turn a blind eye to the abuse being inflicted by our nation’s students – at any level. Efforts to curb bullying at the elementary and high school level will produce more empathetic, compassionate graduates. And, that should lead to less bullying at the college level. But, what can we do to stop bullying now?
Just as anti-bullying campaigns sprung up nationwide for our younger students, we need to spread the movement to our colleges and online. No state has passed cyberbullying laws and few campuses have addressed the issue. We need to empower students and make it possible for them to stand up to bullying without fear of more torment. It’s time for students, graduates, faculty, and administrations to rise up and demand that bullying ends at schools.