How to prevent bullying due to sexual orientation

By: Yo-Ann Vélez Justiniano

Bullying presents a great risk to the children and youth in any society and when the cause is something as personal as the sexual orientation of a human being it takes a bigger psychological toll on the individual. The epicenter for bullying is school, colleges, and universities, where vast numbers of children, youth and young adults spend much of their time.

Bullying- a form of harassment and violence- needs to be understood from a developmental, social and educational perspective. The educational settings in which it occurs and where prevention and intervention are possible need to be studied and understood as potential contexts for positive change. Yet many administrators, teachers, and related personnel lack training to address bullying and do not know how to intervene to reduce it.

Natha Lee Rodríguez, a student from the University of Puerto Rico / Mayagüez, says she’s had her fair share of bad days since she came out as a lesbian but says that “you have to be clear about what you are” and not permit any abuse just because you’re are different. Rodríguez says “people will criticize another human being for not being alike and sometimes it becomes hard to ignore.” For her it has worked to simply stay strong.

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“A student advises to stay strong as a remedy.”

But dealing with the effects doesn’t necessarily eradicate bullying. For a prevention system to fully workout inside an institution there needs be to more than staying strong and waiting to get out, especially because hate demonstrations could be carried out by those who show it far more into the community and it may become a trend in society. Inside an institution such as college battling against bullying becomes far more difficult since it is a less controlled environment and a more open space in which any officials would be dealing with adults who can in theory do whatever they want.

Scott Tsai, a psychologist working in the UPRM, hasn’t had any major cases related to bullying due to differences in sexual preferences. Since he only works with what the patient gives, there is no plan. The only plan would be to deal with what he has at the moment, basically receiving and treating the possible victims since there are no major plans going on campus that prevent such cases from happening. There is only one very generalized plan made for every type of bullying. But when dealing with sexual preferences in campus the “bully” tends to either have a certain profile, if it is a strong case, that separates him from the rest of the usual bullies, usually having a background related to homosexuality in terms of abuse, problems inside their families or with themselves; very specific reasons or be a regular bully or uneducated person. It is rare to see strong cases of this type of bullying, but on a daily basis a set of continuous teasing of other people’s lifestyle, specifically male homosexuals, can be carried out by basically anyone. The psychological damage can be made by any degree of bullying. The degrees can vary from verbal to emotional; to damage to private property, to the extreme of severe physical abuse.

To start prevention it is important to inform first. Building a safe environment for young adults with different sexual preferences starts with proper orientation for both parties. Even though discriminating acts are prohibited it is necessary to instruct both parties about how proper coexistence mechanics should work to make a supportive environment. There are many misconceptions about bullying and how society should react to certain behaviors. Openly addressing these subjects makes for a friendlier environment to live in. It also makes it easier to identify hints of abusive behavior which sometimes may pass as subtle when they’re actually very harmful.

Speaking out in the moment is also very important for the victim in order to promote immediate response an identification of any problems inside the student’s community. Reporting problems immediately helps the authorities to analyze the current social state of the environment. It also helps to note the places with frequent abusive activity. It is very important to note that most acts of bullying nowadays take place on the internet. When such acts take place there is nothing a college official can do, in such situations, adult students must deal with the problems through the use of justice, if anything can be done.

Preventing bullying cases due to differing sexual orientations is no easy task. Most of its source, regardless of the institution, comes from every individual’s upbringing. That is why prevention lies in communication. The better the communication between the parties, the abuser and the victim, the better the understanding of each person’s point of view. Since bullying offers the definition of perceived power imbalance, with communication, the sharing of individual experiences might provide some insight about other aspects of the bullying act, thus permitting healthier relationships and less hostile environments.

Once everyone is informed it is important to act upon what was learned. It is exhorted that the community shouldn’t tolerate any type of abusive behavior made against anyone. Everyone should see the good in eradicating this type of conduct. It is also very important to make public the various helps that are offered to students on campus and outside campus. Students who know people who have been bullied must also help the cause as they are competing at the same level as the bully if they remain silent. Victims and non-victims have to be well informed about the laws of their country and how they can be used to their favor.

Reviewing the methods it is easy to summarize that preventing bullying due to different sexual orientations lies in the use of communication and education. The more knowledge you have about the subject the better you can handle the situation, help others do so or better yet, preventing yourself from being the perpetrator of an act of bullying. For the masses it is true that in knowledge there is power.

 

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“The social media, with less human contact, makes it easy for acts

of bullying to occur in a ‘peaceful’ manner”

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