Approximately 100,000 students per year drop out of school due to bullying, and as many as 160,000 per day stay home because of bullying; more than four out of 10 students fear going into the restroom at school.
These numbers were found from a Buffalo State teacher anti-bullying initiative. The general misconception people get in their heads is that bullying stops at the college-level, because of all the rules and regulations against it. However, it is impossible to stop all forms of it.
“It’s less overt at the college level. People aren’t beating people up, because they are going to get kicked out of school. It’s more of a social bullying,” said Tracey Williams, LPC, Tyler Junior College counselor and learning specialist. “Bullying really has the intent of humiliating the victim.”
Social bullying includes, but is not limited to, verbal abuse, gossiping and social isolation; behavior that finds its way well into adulthood. Even in the professional world, employees can be bullied by power-crazed bosses. Bullying stems from many different reasons.
“Usually bullying is based in fear…You get caught up in this whole ideal of fear mongering… When we’re afraid of something we want to puff ourselves up and look bigger,” said Melanie Ward, professor of reading and developmental education. Ward is also the sponsor for Straights and Gays for Equality, an organization on campus.
People tend to dislike what they don’t understand.
“People are uncomfortable with different people. A lot of times people are scared to be my friend,” said Richard Salazar, public relations major. Salazar is a member of the homosexual community and has often been bullied over his sexuality; such as being cat-called as he walked across campus.
Sometimes people bully to make up for their own low self-esteem.
“Notice that when bullies bully, they don’t pick equal candidates for their victim. It’s always the kind of a person who they see as passive…. weak: physically or emotionally or both… They feel that if they can exert their power over that person, it elevates them. Usually the person who does it has a lot of problems with their own self-esteem,” Williams said.
Whatever the reasons, these victims of bullying may suffer long-term effects such as depression or anxiety. It may be difficult for people who have been bullied to make friends because they have trouble trusting people. But there are ways to fight back and find help.
“Definitely say something about it. Let someone know it’s happening … Don’t try to deal with it on your own,” Ward said.
If a student is a victim of, or witnesses bullying, they should file a report with campus safety. If things seem to be getting testy, film the event on your phone. Catching it on camera is unarguable evidence.
For students seeking solace, they can call Margaret Rapp at 903-510-2878, or Tracey Williams at 903-510-2041 to set up a counseling session.
“Best advice is to remember that tomorrow is another day. We don’t know what’s in the future, but what we can help is what goes on today. Don’t let people’s actions affect you,” Salazar said. “Not everyone’s going to love you, so cherish the ones that do.”