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What is Bullying?

Bullying is part of the larger phenomenon of violence in schools and communities.

  1. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions. The behavior is purposeful: a bully uses various means to intentionally hurt, harm, or damage his target physically, socially, relationally, and/or emotionally.

  2. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength. The imbalance of power can be physical, psychological, or factual making it difficult for the victim to defend himself/herself.     

  3. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time. It is continual, happens repeatedly over time either in a consistent or random pattern.

  1. Verbal bullying which includes derogatory comments and bad names

  2. Bullying through social exclusion, rejection, or isolation

  3. Physical bullying such as shoving, tripping, spitting, hitting, and kicking

  4. Bullying through gossiplies, and false rumors

  5. Stealing or damaging personal possessions

  6. Being threatened or being forced to do things that are harmful or humiliating

  7. Racial or ethnic bullying

  8. Sexual or sexual orientation bullying

  9. Cyber bullying such as using email, videos, cell phones, or other social media websites to harm or humiliate

Deliberately hurtful behavior to someone as a single incident or over a period of time. It can be either physical, verbal or indirect or a combination of any of these forms. Often it includes one of more of the following:

  • Intimidation

  • Exclusion

  • Rumor-spreading

  • Name-calling

  • Anonymous messages

  • Damage to or theft of personal property

Cyberbullying is a form of electronic communication that is persistent and unwanted. There is a power imbalance created and messages may be degrading, intimidating, threatening, or abusive in nature.

Dangers and Risks of Cyberbullying

  • It is extremely simple and easy

  • Does not require significant planning or thought

  • Does not require self-confidence or social finesse

  • The perpetrator is extremely unlikely to be caught or disciplined, especially when they do it anonymously

  • The victim is always accessible (e.g., you can blog about someone online without their physical presence

  • Cyberbullies can remain anonymous and say things online that they would never say to someone in person

  • New targets: The population of a particular high school may go their separate ways after graduation, requiring those with bullying tendencies to either move on with their lives or find others.

  • Less direct authority: Students who go away to college are pretty much on their own, without their parents to try to keep order and intervene. Faculty members certainly prefer order in their classes, they’re much less interested in interpersonal relationships between students than a high school teacher might be. Resident hall advisors or building managers can be a resource, but may focus more on keeping order or putting on programs. Campus security/law enforcement may want to focus more on stopping violent crime on campus vs. mediating in bullying disputes like one would see in a primary school situation.

  • More time together: In high school, students stayed together for 8-10 hours in the classroom or gym, and then return to their homes. In college, especially in dormitory settings, students are together morning, noon and night. Roommates are not always put together by choice, which can cause conflict.

  • More pressure: Academic pressure is higher, plus peer pressure. Too many drinks at a dorm or fraternity party can cause people to focus more of their attention on a ‘weird’ kid.

  • Same factors: If a high school bully copes with their own inadequacies and insecurities by tearing down others, both behaviors will be magnified in a new setting. The new college student will likely feel uncomfortable with new classes, new teachers, new peers, and new procedures, and will return to a way of interacting people he or she is familiar with.

  • Electronic resources: Students can be connected in more ways than ever with Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. This means that even if they aren’t even in the same dorm or even town they can still harass someone else. One would like to think that bullies and their victims from high school would not want to deal with each other anymore if they go to different schools, but if the hate remains strong, there isn’t much that can stop electronic bullying.

  • More freedom: People may use the freedom of college to try things that they were unable to in college, such as coming out as homosexual. These decisions, while difficult for the individual, can also attract new attention from new bullies.

Preface, an online magazine, sums it up well: “A bully can exist wherever boredom and ignorance are found—those factors are a bully’s motivation.”

  • 70% of students who were bullied in elementary school or high school are also bullied in college

  • 18.5% - of students report being bullied  while in college (non-cyber bullying)

  • 22-44% of college students reported being victims of cyberbullying while in college

    • A majority of cyberbullying goes unreported

  • 55% of college students – cyberbullied  at least once in their lifetime

  • 38% of college students reported knowing someone who had been cyberbullied

  • 9-22.5% of college students reported engaging in cyber bullying at least one time

  • 1/3 of youth suicides (15-24) are linked to bullying

  • American male college students have bullied more than female students, but male and female students in college are equally likely to be victimized

  • 42% of students say that they’ve seen someone else being bullied in college by another student

  • 8% of students have bullied in college

  • Higher rates of anxiety, depression, physical health problems, and social adjustment problems which can persist into adulthood

  • Low academic achievement and increased drop-out rate

  • Increased levels of high-risk behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse

  • 70% of workplace bullying victims leave as a result

  • Lack of appreciation for diversity

Students with Disabilities

  • Twice as likely to be identified as perpetrators and victims as are students without disabilities

  • Students with disabilities that are characterized by, or have diagnostic criteria associated with, low social skills and low communication skills have a higher likelihood of involvement in bullying incidents

  • Victimization may be predicted by the “severity of the disability” e.g. “Students with autism may be victimized and rejected more, while students with learning disabilities may be victimized less”

LGBTQIA+ Students

  • Homophobic slurs and verbal harassment

  • Significantly more likely to be bullied

  1. The bully

  2. The victim

  3. The bystander https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EisZTB4ZQxY- about 80% of peer victimization takes place in front of at least one bystander 

Hurtful Bystanders

  • Those who instigate the bullying by prodding the bully to begin

  • Encourage the bullying by laughing, cheering, or making comments that further stimulate the bully

  • Join in the bullying once it has begun.

Most bystanders passively accept bullying by watching and doing nothing. Often without realizing it, these bystanders also contribute to the problem. Passive bystanders provide the audience a bully craves and the silent acceptance that allows bullies to continue their hurtful behavior.

Helpful Bystanders

  • Directly intervene, by discouraging the bully, defending the victim, or redirecting

  • Distract the situation away from bullying and/or

  • Delegate: Get help, by rallying support from peers to stand up against bullying or by reporting the bullying (see university resources below).

SCSU Reporting, Advocacy and Support Options

Bullying is not acceptable at SCSU and t is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Reporting Options:

University Police

203.392.5375 or 911

Local Police


Dean of Students Office


Office of Student Conduct and Civic Responsibility


Advocacy and Support Services

Violence Prevention,
Victim Advocacy and Support Center
University Advocate


Counseling Services


Interfaith Office (Adanti Student Center 227)


Sexuality and Gender Equity Center  



U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services   


National Bullying Prevention Center