Bullying in College

Do you need legal representation in a case to do with bullying in college? Mullen Law Firm has competent lawyers who can help in such cases.

What to Know About Bullying in College

College campuses were once considered safe havens for intellectual growth and personal development. Unfortunately, they have not remained untouched by the insidious issue of bullying. While often associated with high school and middle school students, bullying has also extended to college students.

There are several forms of bullying. It can be physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. College bullying can also take the form of spreading rumors or gossip or excluding someone from a group.

Bullying in college is not a new issue, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. An article from the Journal of American College Health examined the prevalence of bullying in colleges. The study was conducted at a northeastern university in 2012 and included 337 college students.

According to the study, about 25% of college students have witnessed bullying. Nearly 3% reported seeing it frequently. Around one in 20 claimed they, themselves, had been targetted, and one in 100 were regular victims of bullying.

In this guide, we explore the adverse effects of bullying behavior among college students and the legal implications of engaging in bullying behavior. If you are being bullied, an experienced defamation lawyer can offer solutions.

What Are the Types of Bullying Reported by College Students?

Bullying behavior can manifest in several forms on college campuses. These include physical bullying, verbal bullying, emotional bullying, and even sexual bullying. 

Both college students and professors can perpetrate bullying. Typical forms of bullying include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Gender-based bullying

  • Psychological abuse

  • Sexual harassment

  • Social bullying

Physical intimidation is also prevalent, manifesting as threats, shoving, or even physical violence. College students also encounter verbal taunts, insults, and derogatory remarks. 

Cyberbullying in College

A growing concern regarding bullying in college is the rise of cyberbullying. This is where students face harassment through online platforms and social media. College students are highly connected digitally, which has led to more instances of cyberbullying in recent years. 

As a result of the anonymity offered by the online environment, bullies are sometimes encouraged to engage in behavior they would not otherwise exhibit.

Social media bullying on college campuses can take the form of hurtful messages, rumors, and embarrassing content. These can spread rapidly, causing severe emotional harm to the victims. 

Due to the anonymity of the perpetrator, it can be more challenging to trace them and pursue legal action. However, a skilled internet lawyer at the Mullen Firm can provide viable solutions. Call us to learn more about what we can do for you.

What Does Bullying Look Like?

Bullying behavior can be subtle or overt. It may involve exclusion from social groups, spreading false rumors, or using hurtful language. It can also escalate to more severe forms, such as physical altercations. 

Bullying behavior is often repetitive, targeting the same individual repeatedly. Its effects are not limited to the immediate impact. Consistent bullying can have lasting psychological and emotional consequences for the victim.

Is Hazing Considered a Form of Bullying?

Hazing rituals are often associated with college fraternities and sororities. These share several similarities with bullying. Unfortunately, they are sometimes viewed as an accepted form of bullying.

Hazing involves subjecting newcomers to humiliating, degrading, or dangerous activities. This is often done as a part of initiation. This practice can cause significant emotional distress and, in extreme cases, physical harm. While hazing might be seen as a tradition, it constitutes a form of bullying, perpetuating a cycle of abusive behavior.

Various measures are in place to protect against bullying at different levels. These are at the institutional, state, and federal levels.

Effects of Bullying Cause on Students

Bullying victims may exhibit changes in behavior, including sudden withdrawal from social activities or declining academic performance. College students can be impacted by bullying in many ways. It can, for example, lead to the following psychological effects:

  • Lowered self-esteem 

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression 

  • Suicidal ideation

Academic performance can suffer because the victims may struggle to focus on their studies amidst their emotional turmoil. The long-term impacts on mental health and self-confidence can persist well beyond the college years and could become habitual.

Protections Against Bullying in Higher Education Institutions

Various measures are in place to protect against bullying at different levels. These are at the institutional, state, and federal levels.

Institutional Anti-Bullying Policies

All schools must take necessary measures to prevent bullying and provide a safe learning environment. The anti-bullying policies of schools and higher education institutions are often accompanied by sanctions for students who violate them.

Bullying Protections in New Jersey

Many states have also passed anti-bullying and hazing laws, including New Jersey. Harassment, intimidation, or bullying in NJ is prohibited if reasonably interpreted as being motivated by an actual or perceived characteristic. This includes race, color, religion, ancestry, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or any other distinguishing characteristic.

These laws are designed to protect students from bullying and hazing and to create a safe learning environment. Penalties for violating the law can include civil action, suspension, expulsion, or even criminal charges in certain cases.

Federal Laws Against Harassment and Bullying

There is no federal law that specifically addresses bullying. Bullying may, however, overlap with discriminatory harassment when it is motivated by race, national origin, color, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), age, disability, or religion.

This type of harassment may violate federal civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination, including gender discrimination and sexual harassment in educational programs or activities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Therefore, federally funded schools (including colleges and universities) must resolve harassment on these grounds and may be held liable for not addressing it.

What Can I Do if I Have Been Bullied at College?

Before taking legal action, you need to follow a process at the institutional level. It is generally necessary to demonstrate that the school could and should have done something to prevent bullying if you wish to pursue a claim against it in court. You must file a complaint against the school, and if the school fails to take any corrective action, then you can proceed with a legal action.

If the school does not take appropriate corrective action, fails to enforce its code of conduct, or does not respond to your complaints, you may have cause to file a lawsuit.

It’s essential to seek legal help promptly. Reach out to the Mullen Law Firm for a case evaluation.

Can I Sue My School if I Am a Victim of Bullying by a Professor?

If you have been bullied or harassed by a professor or another staff member, you should document the incident and report it to higher authorities.

Similarly to peer bullying, if the school fails to address the issue adequately, they may be held liable.

Bullied in College? Mullen Law Firm Can Help

Recognizing the various forms bullying can take and understanding its impacts is essential. Preventing and addressing bullying is crucial for creating a safer educational environment. If you face aggressive behavior at school, you aren’t alone.

Remember, support is always available. Whether through university resources or legal avenues, you can find the justice you deserve.

At the Mullen Law Firm, we recognize the severity of bullying in college environments. We understand the nuances of bullying cases and offer support for those seeking legal recourse. As top-rated school bullying lawyers, we can provide guidance and advocacy. If you are a victim looking to address your situation through legal means, call us.

While bullying cannot be prevented in every case, you don’t have to suffer in silence. For advocacy and guidance, contact us.

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