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The Blue & Gray Press | November 20, 2017

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Anti-bullying talk informs

By JAZMIN AUSTIN

The University of Mary Washington student-run sorority Alpha Mu Sigma hosted an anti-bully talk on Oct. 29. As part of anti-bullying month, the talk educated students on bullying, and taught students how to identify and prevent it.

The event did not go as initially planned, due to the fact that Chris Manuel, the intended speaker, was unable to attend. Speaking in his place was sophomore English and literacy studies major Nicole Contrino.

Contrino first showed different words that bully victims might see or hear. Some words included insults such as “worthless,” “idiot,” “freak,” “wannabe,” “fatty,” “stupid” and “gay.” Several members of the audience gasped or sat in uncomfortable silence as the words appeared on the screen. During the presentation, there were multiple ideas about how people are affected by bullying, despite whether the person is the bully, the victim or just a bystander.

Contrino identified several factors that lead to bullying. The bully may often have issues at home or possess low self-esteem. The victim may normally be someone over or underweight, a new student, someone that is not “cool” or who has a different sexual orientation.

According to Contrino, the bully experiences negative effects from the situation as well. Effects might include abuse of alcohol as a child or adult, or early sexual activities. She also stated that bullying affected the victim in various ways, such as feelings of sadness or loneliness, a loss of interest in all activities and decreased academic achievement or participation.

While Contrino was researching for the presentation, she noticed there were also effects on the bystander, such as “increased drug use or smoking, missing or skipping school and mental health issues like depression or anxieties.”

Most of the presentation and effects focused on middle and high school children, however there is also bullying that goes on in college, such as hazing and cyber bullying. People can also experience bullying from roommates or even professors.

Following the presentation, Frances Elmo, a senior psychology major and president of Alpha Mu Sigma announced that there was going to be a showing a documentary. The documentary, “Bully,” follows three different children that are experiencing bullying.

The documentary showed the extreme consequences that result when people are bullied, including emotional trauma or even death. The documentary was a startling and upsetting end to the presentation, but it perfectly summed up the message of the presentation.

October is anti-bullying month each year. UMW organizations such as Alpha Mu Sigma host bullying prevention discussions each year, to help inform students and end bullying.