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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bullying on the rise

by Christina Delgman 
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“Bullying is the most common form of violence in our society; between 15 and 30 percent of students are bullies or victims,” according to the National Association of School Psychologists. According to The Trevor Project, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses,” (CDC, 2008). The results of bullying can be fatal.

The NASP defines a bully as "someone who directs physical, verbal or psychological aggression or harassment toward others, with the goal of gaining power over or dominating another individual.” A prime example was reported in The New York Times: Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University, “jumped from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River in an apparent suicide.” Clementi ended his life after being cyberbullied for his sexual orientation. The New York Times also reported that a 15-year-old girl took her life after being bullied by other high school students. “Bullying is often a factor in school related deaths,” said the NASP.

While bullying is on the rise, Julie Starkey, associate dean for Campus Life, said she has not observed much bullying at Columbia College. She said most of the bullying she sees is on Facebook, and most problems seem to be issues between friends. Technology has contributed, Starkey said. If anyone sees or experiences bullying, it should be reported. Starkey said the Columbia College code of student conduct and having the courage to get help could control the problem on this campus.

Some students at Columbia College have experienced bullying first hand. Austin Miller, a senior math major and psychology minor, says he has been bullied. In high school, Miller said he was bullied for his sexual orientation and mannerisms. Since graduating from high school, Miller said he hasn’t noticed as much bullying. While observing high schools, Miller said he has noticed more bullying, with body image as the main subject.

There are ways to prevent bullying in schools. The NASP says that policies of  zero tolerance (severe consequences for any behavior defined as dangerous, such as bullying or carrying a weapon) rely on exclusionary measures (suspension and expulsion) that have negative effects.” Instead, school-wide prevention programs that promote a positive school and community climate would work best, the NASP said. These programs would require participation and commitment by everyone, they said.

For more information on bullying prevention and interventions as well as signs of suicidal risk, visit:

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