By Christina Fazio
Bullying. For most, the word itself elicits memories of a time when we were a victim ostracized by our peers, or it may even evoke a sense of guilt for that time you turned a blind eye toward the kid who was getting bullied.
October is the nationally recognized month to bring light upon preventing bullying. Bullying is indeed pervasive, and there is always someone out there enduring the social-emotional harm caused by those who bully. Despite popular belief, bullying is not inevitable. Prevention begins with recognition and intervention.
It’s unfortunate, yet surprising for most, to learn bullying has many faces and continues to exist even in college. Excluding someone from a group project, harassing someone over social media, or deriding someone for asking a question in class are just a few examples that epitomize the way bullying occurs across college campuses.
The actions an individual can execute have the potential to change someone’s life for the better or for the worse. Isolating, ridiculing and derision can lead someone to internalize their preexisting pain and in some cases, can bring a person to suicide.
Greeting someone with a friendly gesture can go as far as bringing someone who is out on a ledge, back to a safer place. Perhaps a friend is the one thing that a person needs to reconsider their existence.
“It isn’t about the big stuff. A small gesture – holding a door, giving a compliment, smiling at someone – can make a huge difference,” said Meghan McCoy, who is the Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC). “We sometimes forget that and wait for the moment that we can do something big. Don’t wait. Be nice now”.
In other cases, you’re not the one doing the bullying, rather you’re the one who stands there and lets it happen. Many of us fall subject to the bystander effect in which we fail to intervene in a situation.
Assuming someone else will take the initiative to meddle in and diffuse the mistreatment, essentially demonstrates there is very little criteria differentiating you from the bullier. Instead of turning the blind eye toward those who are victimized and bullied, interceding allows us to alleviate those targeted by bullying.
Adopting a mindset infused with the notion of how to recognize and prevent bullying enables us to have an impact on present scenarios, and it also offers promise to our ability to extinguish future situations as they arise.
Christina Fazio is a Comment opinion writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.