By Erica Dunigan
There are kindergartners starting fights in the sandbox, physical fights in the streets, and now messages being left on Facebook and Twitter pages. No matter the age of a person, bullying can be a problem for someone of any age or background.
When we think of October, we think of breast cancer awareness or Halloween, but it is also known for being National Anti-Bullying Month. As a college student, I may not think of bullying as being a problem, at least not as much as if I was in grade school or high school.
I see stereotyping, gossip, drama being started, and cliques happening in college. But do we see that as a form of bullying?
As a college student I think back to the old definition of bullying, “a person intentionally inflicting injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.”
When truly as a student, we should look at the definition for “cyber bullying,” which is defined as, “the use of the internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.”
Let’s think back to 2010, when Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student, jumped off the George Washington Bridge after two classmates streamed images over the Internet of him having intercourse with another male student. One of the students who streamed the images was his own roommate, and the students used hidden cameras to capture the incident.
Not only would this humiliate Clementi and the other student, but the two students at fault would also share this humiliation with the World Wide Web.
After remembering back to the Clementi incident and thinking of what cyber bullying is, it makes me think of what I hear and see on Southwestern’s campus.
Even though this is a small college, it seems like rumors and gossip get around to everyone. It seems that many students become the talk of a conversation if they are trying to fit into a certain group, or if they are talking to a guy or a girl, and especially if they do not fit into the norm. Once the stories get around, it seems to only take a few minutes, and then they are posted around on Facebook or it’s the main topic of the week. The sad thing is, once it’s on the internet, it can never be taken back. So the person being bullied or talked about has to see what has been said about them every time they get on the computer.
What would cause a student to start a rumor that ends up hurting another person’s feelings? Cyberbullying.org identified causes of bullying. Boredom and ignorance can be a factor, a student with some downtime posts something online that he or she thinks is funny without thinking of the consequences. Other students bully in defense of a peer or friend who he or she believes has been wronged.
There was a study conducted a while back in 2004, by Dan Olweus, a Norwegian expert on bullying, which asked college students, “if they had witnessed, participated in or had been a victim of bullying at college?” The results would end up suggesting that a good amount of students had witnessed bullying behaviors, and shockingly, students have witnessed bullying by teachers. Sixty percent of the students surveyed would witness bullying by peers, and only five percent reported being victimized by fellow students on a regular basis.
Olweus would suggest after the research was done that, “the notion of bullying decreases as kids get older, but in fact, bullying at college is a growing concern.”
As National Anti-Bullying month comes to an end, the question remains in my mind as a college student, “How can we decrease bullying happening not only physically and verbally, but now even through social networking?”
We aren’t 10-year-old grade school students on the playground, picking on the quiet little kid in the corner reading a book. We are educated students, young adults, going to college to find who we are and who we want to become. . Posting a hurtful message on Facebook or starting a rumor about someone is not an educated student, but is someone known as a “bully.”
Erica Dunigan is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.