Bullying more likely to affect students in Alabama

by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

Middle school and high school are when people do the most growing, mentally and physically, but these years are also the time when bullying is most common.

Alabama is the eighth worst state in terms of bullying, according to a WalletHub study.

“I don’t know if I can specifically speak for Alabama as to why the cases are higher, but bullying happens everywhere,” said Mental Health Counselor Maggie Stutts.

There is the possibility that Alabama is low on the list because some schools do not monitor bullying, said Junior Drew Tucker.

“It’s not every school system, but there are some which do not enforce rules against bullying,” he said.

Students have reported cases of bullying to the Office of Student Conduct, said Director of Student Conduct & Student Affairs Assessment Kimberly Greenway.

“Bullying and cyberbullying are repeated and/or severe aggressive behaviors that intimidate or intentionally harm or control another person physically or emotionally, and are not protected by freedom of expression,” according to UNA’s Code of Student Conduct.

Stutts said the two major effects of bullying are depression and anxiety.

“Bullying causes a lot of anxiety for certain people because everyone wants to feel accepted and feel like they are a part of a group,” she said. “So, when they are ostracized and bullied in high school, I imagine it would be difficult for them to make connections on a college campus. They may be afraid to make new friends because they experienced a significant amount of bullying. They don’t know how they might be treated.”

Senior Mikesha Evans said bullying has left its effects on her.

“I still get somewhat depressed,” she said. “It comes and goes, but I pray through it.”

Evans said another effect of bullying is becoming mad at others for what someone else did.

“I’m working on that though,” she said. “Deep down inside I am a nice person, and I don’t want that attitude affecting the rest of my life.”

Drew said bullying can affect a person’s self-esteem.

“When I was younger, I was bullied alot in elementary and high school,” he said. “It really takes a toll on your self-esteem. You go about your day thinking that you’re lesser than all of the popular people.”

There are a few reasons why people would bully others, but personal issues might be the most common, said sophomore Deja Harris.

“I believe people bully because they have low self-esteem,” she said. “If they can’t be happy, why should anyone else?”

There is no point in bullying, Drew said.

“It’s a big time waster,” he said. “It doesn’t help you or the person you’re bullying.”

Stutts said she believes bullying happens in college, but hopes it occurs less than in high school.

Greenway said students report more cases of cyberbullying than physical bullying.

Harris said she believes bullying still happens in college, but it is subtler.

“There’s no pushing people into lockers or stealing money, but people are snubbed,” she said. “Different groups might snub another because (that person) doesn’t fit in or they may talk about the person behind their back. I think in this way bullying is worse in college.”

Stutts said students who experience any of these issues should come to Student Counseling Services.

“We provide individual counseling,” she said. “All of our staff members are licensed counselors. So, if someone is experiencing anxiety or depression because of bullying or any other kind of symptom, we do address them in counseling.”

Evans said she has never went to Student Counseling Services.

“I went to counseling in 10th grade for bullying, but I haven’t gone during college.”

Evans said while she still has social anxiety, she does not believe she needs any more counseling.

Stutts said students should never be afraid to ask for help.

“If anyone ever feels like they are being bullied or something is going on beyond their control, it’s never a problem to ask for help,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for. We want to know if somebody’s struggling or needing help to get through a certain situation, especially if bullying is the root issue and it’s impacting their everyday life. We want to make sure everybody is getting their voice heard.”