Bullying doesn’t end in college

Story by Amelia Kimball, Staff Writer

I see a young woman looking in the mirror. She’s pale, thin; wasting away like old snow left over from winter. Her heart is broken; her eyes are darkly lined with mascara. Her ribs poke through her thin shirt. A man sits in silence alone in a gray room, staring at the crimson grooves of scars on his arms. He holds his wet, fleshy face in his sweaty palms.

What’s wrong with these people? Maybe they’re strange and have never fit in, but they probably have a few friends. Maybe they don’t like to eat as much as they should. Maybe they fell down in an accident. And maybe they didn’t.

I think a lot of people believe bullying ends after middle school and high school, but it doesn’t. Unfortunately, bullying can occur at all stages of life, even when a person is elderly.

All of us can probably agree bullying is wrong and degrading, but then why do we do it? There are classic cases labeled as wrong, such as teasing someone because they’re overweight or too thin. People are teased because they’re seen as abnormally smart or not smart at all. These situations should never happen, but they do every day. There are also cases of bullying that aren’t thought of as a concern. Instead, it’s something a person does or says to another person to help them “grow up” or “live a little.”

Let me give an example.

Say there’s a young man who lives in an apartment with three other people. This man doesn’t drink; he’s not old enough. His other roommates often go out for a drink. On occasions, they’ll drink enough to get drunk. The young man doesn’t care as long as they don’t cause harm to anyone. The roommates find his behavior strange.

Sure he can’t drink, but he’s 20. That’s almost 21. They start picking at him for his lack of participation in their fun. He pushes off their words; after all, he’s known these people for years. Soon, they start using harsh words, cause physical harm to him, show up with a bunch of people at the apartment with drinks as they hold him down and shove alcohol down his throat.

Some friends they are.

That situation may be on the extreme end of the spectrum, but the fact is, these things happen. People get teased because they don’t drink, party, or have sex, along with a number of other things. That isn’t right. Neither is it right to pick on someone because of their build, character, or anything else. You’re not helping anyone “grow up” or have a “life.” You’re helping them feel under pressure. Why can’t we leave each other alone? This shouldn’t be a question.

If the young man from my example doesn’t drink, it would be a nice idea for his roommates to spend time doing an activity all of them enjoy together once in awhile. At least they should leave him alone about his decision to abstain from drinking, and when people see a problem, they shouldn’t hide from it. A simple smile or touch of comfort can make a huge difference.

Act now. If you see someone going through a hard time or facing unfair treatment, don’t stand on the sidelines. College doesn’t make people invincible. They hurt, cry, and have pain.

Bullying doesn’t have to exist at any stage of life. It can be stopped. The next time you see a person in trouble, do something about it, because you never know when it could be your best friend, or even yourself, that needs help.