October 17, 2016
While walking down the halls of a high school, a student is slammed into a locker, cursed at and threatened with a demand for their lunch money by the perpetrator of the crime.
This scenario is stereotypical and is seen in most teen movies. Some of us may have unfortunately experienced it ourselves.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, bullying is “to frighten, hurt, or threaten, to treat abusively, or to affect by means of force or coercion.”
Certainly, it is easy to define the word, but it is the action behind the definition that is complex.
Bullying is typically associated with children in grade school. During our education, whether it is in elementary, middle or high school, students are taught how to handle bullying at a young age.
Once we graduate from high school, we think it’s over. Everyone has matured, and we all know better than to shove a kid into their locker for their lunch money.
But bullying continues on in college life and adulthood; it changes forms, and there is always a negative outcome from it in the end. As adults, we give it different names: intolerance, racism, oppression, sexism and ageism, to name a few.
In elementary school, we are taught that it is mean to exclude others. We are taught to be kind, to help and to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Some kids blow these lessons off, leading to a childhood full of hurtful words and actions.
Can we objectively look at a 22-year-old adult who is being called racial slurs and claim that they are not being bullied because they are “too old” to be a victim of this action?
It would seem to me that this is invalidation, and that never helps to fix a problem.
We need to learn how to encourage a positive relationship between people with differing viewpoints.
In college, we’re taught that exclusion is a deeper issue pertaining to socially constructed ideas surrounding a multitude of factors such as race, religion and sexual orientation.
College students are encouraged to be aware of our biases and ideas that influence us to categorize and make assumptions of others. We look at how we might offend people around us, even when we don’t mean to. This is part of our higher education; it is part of growth.
We understand the lasting effects of racial prejudice and sexism, and we are beginning to understand how long it takes to right the wrongs committed against people who are different from us.
Why is it, then, that we deny the presence of bullying in college? Bullying doesn’t only apply to a young age group. Children learn what they see, and they emulate the actions that surround them. Children learn bullying from the very problems our society and the world struggles with today.
These children will eventually grow up and carry the ideas they learned with them into adulthood, whether these ideas hurt others or not.
To ignore bullying’s presence on a collegiate level would be naive on our part. We cannot get rid of bullying until we accept its existence.