Written by Haley Adams
College is a time of adjustment and self-discovery during which many individuals find their passions and form their social support system. Academic demands, financial responsibility, and stress from a new environment are all reasons that humans need social interaction and a support system that can aid their ability to cope with these stressors. The difficult process of handling these new stressors is worsened for individuals who are, or have been, victims of bullying. In order for society to prevent the long term effects of bullying, the beginnings of bullying need to be recognized and reversed as early as elementary school.
What is bullying?
The third form of bullying involves relational bullies who go out of their way to make the victim feel isolated and alone (Young-Jones et al., 2015). This method of bullying is more discreet and refined, although it is equally damaging for the victim as more blatant forms of bullying (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Finally, the fourth form of bullying is due to the recent developments in technology and is constantly evolving with the advancements in technology. Cyber-bullying involves any form of harassment that is conducted via technology, including text messages, social media harassment, and emails (Young-Jones et al., 2015).
How does bullying impact college students?
Often, these individuals are still struggling to recover from previous negative experiences, which continue to affect them years after the bullying has ended (Young-Jones et al., 2015). The adjustments that are required to be made when transitioning to a college setting include new social interactions, which can be quite challenging and anxiety-inducing for those who have been bullied in the past (Holt, Greif Green, Reid, DiMeo, Espelage, Felix, Furlong, Poteat, & Sharkey, 2014).
Victims of bullying, both past and current, have lower academic motivation at the college level than those who have not experienced bullying, which can negatively impact victims' academic achievement and future career success (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Victims of bullying also have higher stress levels that correspond with lower self-esteem and mental wellness (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Anxiety and depression due to previous and present bullying can last for a significant amount of time after the harassment has ended (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Another study that targeted college freshman emphasized the lasting effects of childhood bullying band its association with poorer mental and physical health (Holt et al., 2014).
What can be done?
Holt, M. K., Greif Green, J., Reid, G., DiMeo, A., Espelage, D. L., Felix, E. D., Furlong, M. J., Poteat, V. P., & Sharkey, J. D. (2014). Associations between past bullying experiences and psychosocial and academic functioning among college students. Journal of American College Health, 62(8), 552-560.
Young-Jones, A., Fursa, S., Byrket, J. S., & Sly, J. S. (2015). Bullying affects more than feelings: the long-term implications of victimization on academic motivation in higher education. Social Psychology of Education, 18(1), 185-200.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor