Cyberbully pulpit

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I thought bullying was for high schoolers. I’m a college freshman and being bullied online. Any suggestions? 

This is a problem we find more often than you might think. There is a common misconception that bullying is limited to children K-12 and its incidence lessens or even ceases once in college. Yet according to a 2012 Health Day News study, nearly 22 percent of college students reported cases of cyberbullying. It does not end in high school, but goes on well into adulthood and the workplace.

The statistics are disheartening, a quarter of college students say they have been bullied through social media and 42 percent said they have seen someone else being bullied. The National Schools Safety Center claims that American schools harbor over 2 million bullies. The effects of long-term bullying can be devastating, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report revealed that bullies themselves often underachieve academically and are prone to substance abuse and violence in later life. Bullying comes in many guises, it can be physical, verbal, sexual, racial and prejudicial, relational or cyberbullying.

The effects on victims often result in them skipping classes and dropping grades as a consequence. Often they become too afraid to consult anyone about it, or worried that nobody will take them seriously, which makes bullying a very lonely problem. Continued abuse from college bullies can result in self-esteem issues that continue into adult life. This could have a major effect on job applications, interviews, workplace performance, and physical and mental health.

The reasons people bully are varied and understanding the motives behind them can help parents, teachers and counsellors take preventative action. Surveys have revealed a number of reasons why young people resort to bullying. Students at college are under less direct authority, they have just left home so parents are no longer overseeing things and faculty tends to take a hands-off approach to discipline and inter-personal relationships.

The prevalence of technology and social media has had a huge impact on bullying, one in four students has been abused on it. Unregulated social media platforms are awash with victimization and cruelty, people post what they like because they can. Many are often more empowered behind a keyboard or pseudonym than they would normally be in reality. This has resulted in a surge in incidents of cyberbullying and the owners and managers of these websites take very little action.

However, strategies to combat cyberbullying are in place and have been effective when implemented, report web developers at Ocean SEO. Teaching young people how to respond is the first and best practice. It seems easy to ignore, block or report the offender, but the emotional urge to respond can take over. The incident feeds on your reaction and online response.

Other reasons cited for bullying include showing off in front of peers, aiming to embarrass the victim, boredom and entertainment, and most commonly revenge. Statistics show that 60% of former school bullies had been convicted of a criminal charge by age 24. In many cases the severity of bullying can be considered a criminal offense especially if it is threatening behavior or sexual harassment.

Standing up to bullies is the hallmark of a civilized society… Robert Reich.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.