The cliche of the high school bully is well-known. Read any Stephen King novel with children as the main characters, and it’s very likely you’ll find a young child, around 13 years old, getting bullied by the older, meaner high school characters.
Certainly, bullying also happens before this, but very young children make it a bit harder to tell. They’re still learning social skills. When does it cross the line into intentional bullying?
However, there is one danger with buying into either of these popular images of the typical bully: They ignore the fact that bullies do not go away when a person graduates from high school. They absolutely exist in college and in the workplace.
One reason bullying still happens even when “children” are in their early 20s is that a lot of bullies never get any corrective discipline when they’re younger. If they face no ramifications in early childhood and high school, they enter adulthood without understanding that their behavior must change.
Another issue is that some colleges have institutionalized bullying in the form of hazing, which is often done by the fraternities on campus. While many schools have publicly disallowed it in recent years, there is a long-standing tradition of hazing new members. It still happens.
Reports show that people are getting cyberbullied more and more often in college. The age of social media has certainly brought with it a number of challenges, and this is one of them. Gossip spreads quickly, rumors grow and people are often shamed online.
One potential problem with online bullying is that the Internet creates a feeling of distance. Two people standing in the same room might not insult one another the way they will if they’re both on social media. This can create a degree of aggressiveness that doesn’t exist as often in other settings. Plus, in some cases, cyberbullying can be accomplished anonymously.
With high school bullying, at least a child could leave school at 3 p.m. and go home. He or she hopefully has support system created by parents, siblings and close friends. While school itself may have felt taxing, the child technically spends far more time at home, insulated from the bullying.
That’s not always true in college. A child could live hours and hours away from his or her support system. The bully may also live on campus and be around 24/7. In some cases, in the dorms, the student may even have to share a hall or a room with the bully. This can make it all feel far worse than it did before.
Anti-bullying laws and legal rights
When bullying strikes in school, in college or even in the workplace, it’s very important for those involved to know their legal rights. Remember, anti-bullying laws do exist in Missouri, so there are always options.