GREENVILLE — Edison State Community College students delivered a presentation on the signs, types and effects of bullying at the Greenville Public Library Tuesday evening.
Five students took part in the presentation, including Dawn Cleere, 41, a social services major at Edison; Hope Byrum, 18, a nursing major; Renee Netzley, 19, who studies early childhood education; Baylee Petry, 17, who is studying to become a physician’s assistant; and Chris Bucklew, 19, who studies art. The students completed the presentation as part of a requirement for a Fundamentals of Communication class.
A bully, according to the presenters, is someone who uses superior strength to intimidate someone else into doing what the bully wants. About one-third of children admit to being bullied, research suggests, while one in seven admit to being a bully himself or herself.
A large percent of bullying takes place in schools, meanwhile, including in class and on the playground, and more than half of bullying incidents overall are thought to go unreported. Kids are most often bullied as a result of their weight, race or other aspects of their physical appearance.
“Bullying can happen at any time,” Bucklew said. “It can happen at school, at work or even at night on your phone or computer.”
The four main types of bullying, presenters said, include acts of physical assault or intimidation, such as hitting someone or stuffing them inside a locker; verbal harassment or humiliation; acts of social exclusion or ostracism, such as spreading rumors or excluding someone from taking part in group activities; and, of course, the increasingly popular cyber-bullying now prevalent on many social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The students put on a pair of short skits to illustrate some unexpected ways that bullying can occur: in one, a woman berates a man for sitting in front of her at a sporting event and blocking her view, leading to an exchange of insults and name-calling between the two; in another, instructor Bob Robinson took part in the presentation, playing a man who was taunted, called names and cruelly prevented from taking part in a group activity.
Effects of bullying can include depression, anxiety, insomnia and changes in mood or personal habits, such as staying in one’s room all day or becoming withdrawn and refusing to speak. Unexplained bruises and conspicuously falling grades also can be indicators that something is amiss. Bullied children are also twice as likely to suffer headaches and stomach pains, the presenters said.
“Bullying is a repetitive and purposeful act used to hurt or embarrass someone,” Bucklew said. “And it can continue to affect people well into adulthood.”
Another serious aspect of bullying is the prevalence of bystanders: children, or even adults, who witness acts of bullying but don’t speak up, whether as a result of social pressure, simply not wanting to get involved or fear of becoming a target of bullying themselves.
The presenters urged both victims and witnesses of bullying to avoid striking back physically, becoming involved in verbal arguments with bullies or avoiding school or work as a result of bullying. Instead, they should report the activity to authorities, including parents, school officials or even the police, if need be.