Bullying is Still an Issue on College Campuses

There is a common misconception that bullying is only something students in elementary, middle and high schools have to worry about. This could not be further from the truth according to Brian Van Brunt, President of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association and author of Ending Campus Violence: New Approaches to Prevention as students on college campuses across the country report that they are still bullied and in surprisingly large amounts too.

Van Brunt has been working on the topic of bullying and violence on college campuses for almost 15 years and has worked tirelessly with students to help them cope.

He feels that working towards improved standards of safety on campus,which began with the Obama Administration taking a stance to end sexual assaults, is a good place to start. Van Brunt hopes that it will also serve a dual purpose of shedding some light on bullying in college as well.

“One of the problems with teasing and bullying… it does affect a lot of students. If you look at the specialized groups – race, sexual identity, mental health issues, etc. – I think we’re seeing a rise in bullying. One way to describe it is you’re giving this generation a megaphone, and it’s also a generation that hasn’t been described well in terms of thinking about how their actions affect each other,” says Van Brunt.

He also states, “I think the perception (college) a blank slate. Once high school’s over it’ll be a whole new experience, but the problems don’t go away. These things don’t just disappear… I would argue they get worse because you’re adding stress… Why would that get easier not harder?”

A study performed in 2011 lends Van Brunt’s stance on the prevalence of bullying in college quite a bit of credibility. The University of Indiana study reported that 22% of college students reportedly were cyberbullied and 15% said that they were bullied by another student in person.

An interesting addition to the University of Indiana study was the amount of students that reportedly witnessed a situation in which they witnesses another student being bullied. This sits at an astounding 42% with an additional 15% of students reporting that a professor was responsible for the bullying.

There has been a notable increase in the amount of on campus shootings and other reports of violence and one has to wonder how many of these acts are spurred by bullying. It is well documented that the affects of bullying add to feelings of isolation, stress, anxiety, depression and anger. These just so happen to be some of the issues that the perpetrators of some of the recent violent events on college campuses reportedly had as well.

So, what is the solution?

Van Brunt says that bystander and behavior intervention are going to be the first steps to take against on campus bullying. The next step he suggests, is to work hard at bringing students together and filling those feelings of isolation with a sense of fitting in. “At college we have this great opportunity to connect students. There’s always a place for people. We try to connect them to social groups that they resonate with.” Van Brunt stated when asked for ideas on how to help.

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