Tag Archives: bullying

Hidden Changes

One aspect of Greek life on college campuses, often perpetuated by the media and pop culture, is hazing.

California State University, Northridge, has created a very strict “Non-Hazing Agreement” for fraternities and sororities. It reads, in part:

All organizations and clubs must obey the CSU code of conduct which defines hazing as any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization, or student body, which is likely to cause physical harm, personal degradation resulting in physical or mental harm to any former, current, or prospective student.

But CSUN students have differing opinions on whether or not fraternities or sororities follow this agreement.

“…I particularly made sure that no hazing was involved at all [in the fraternity I joined],” said CSUN student Mauricio Romo. “I was at first sketchy when I joined as a brother, but then I noticed … there is no hazing. I don’t understand why they would haze. I never understood the topic. I’d see that other fraternities haze, but I never understood why you have to haze somebody if someone joined for the same purpose you are.”

“…there are communities that say that they don’t haze, but I’ve experienced hazing firsthand,” said CSUN student and sorority alumna Leah Cohen, “and so have people that I’ve talked to, and even most recently I’ve had people coming to me that have complained about those particular issues, so I do not think that the Greek community at CSUN has been adhering to the hazing policy that has been put in place for them.”

Hazing was a problem at CSUN in the past. A 19-year-old student named Armando Villa died as a result of a hazing incident almost three years ago.

“Armando’s death really affected me because we were on the same swim team, so we knew each other,” Romo said.  “I’d known him since middle school. I talked to him in high school. The last semester of senior year we all talked about how we were going to go to CSUN and join a fraternity. When Armando’s death happened, it hit me. I was like, wow, someone I knew passed away for a stupid reason.”

Although not all hazing at CSUN, or other college campuses, ends in tragedy, hazing of any kind can have lasting social or psychological effects on people.

“These organizations are communities of individuals,” CSUN Sociology Professor Ali Akbar Mahdi said, “… young people who have come together, 40 or 50, or an even larger number of them, in one compound, who do not have any blood relationship, and they do not know much about the past of each other… So, they get into very intense relationships with one another, and unfortunately one of the negative aspects of it is that it creates a sense of exclusivity, and also a sense of superiority.”

Another negative aspect can be the peer pressure that it makes it hard to speak out against hazing.

“The people who come to this organization then accept that this is going to be part of the game,” Mahdi said, “and therefore they should accept these things.”

Although Greek life is stereotyped as non-stop partying, drinking, and hazing, even its critics agree some benefits certainly exist.

“I primarily joined because, ultimately, I wanted to do something more for the community, philanthropy-wise,” Cohen said. “The goal was, whichever sorority I ended up in, to contribute to that particular philanthropy, whichever one it would be.”

To help push the positive aspects of sororities and fraternities, and to teach students the correct way to contribute to Greek life, CSUN created Greek 101 and Greek 102 classes that are mandatory for students who want to join these organizations.

“I felt that Greek 101 was very like — it could pretty much touch you, in a sense,” Romo said. “It also touched me because they also talked about Armando. From what I hear, before Armando’s death, Greek 101 was a lot different.”

“I took Greek 101 prior to what happened to Armando Villa, so my experience was that [hazing] wasn’t taken as seriously beforehand,” Cohen said. “When I experienced Greek 102 afterwards, hazing began to become more of a prevalent thing that was being discussed. It was taken a little more seriously in Greek 102, but in Greek 101 at the time it was not.”

Villa’s death has had an effect on the entire campus, and more specifically the Greek community. While hazing may still be going on, the campus has tried to minimize it.

Moderator: Shelby Charlene

Producer: Amber Partida

Anchor: Malcolm Finney

Social Media Editors: Yesenia Burgara and Abril Preciado

Reporters: Yesenia Burgara, Shelby Charlene, Malcolm Finney, Julie Nesbitt, Amber Partida, Curtis Poindexter and Abril Preciado

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Friend or Foe: You Can’t Sit with Us

“You can’t sit with us.”

So says Regina George in the 2004 movie Mean Girls, a satirical look at the very real phenomenon of bullying, an increasing problem for children and teens.

Today, technology and social media are being used to take bullying from schools and parks right into victims’ homes, pockets, and purses.

The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.

High school senior Hanna Kytlica said she had stopped attending cheerleading team because of a bully, and ended up transfering to a high school with a zero tolerance bullying policy. Kytlica said she didn’t wanted to quit cheerleading or leave her school, but it was not worth the torment she went through.

“I’m gonna live my life,” Kytlica said. “I’m gonna be who I am. I learned that it made me such a strong person. I can sit by myself, I’m not afraid like in Mean Girls, because I’m comfortable with who I am, which is the most important part of growing up.”

Stopbullying.gov, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”

The department’s website says that “bullying is repeated over time, including actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”

“People continue to bully because there is a hierarchy that reinforces the actions of bullying to maintain their power status,” Marriage and Family Therapist Joey Dolowy said.

WeUpstanders is an anti-bullying non-profit organization, with the goal to help support victims of bullying while informing the public of bullying at schools and on social media. Members share how bullies have picked on them for multiple reasons such as skin color, body types, social status, speaking English as a second language, and so on.

“I’m colored,” one Upstanders team member said, “and I was smaller than everybody else, so I was bullied and got called racist names.”

Cyberbullying has increased due to the availability of internet and social media sites. The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in its 2010-2011 School Crime Supplement that nine percent of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying, and the Centers for Disease Control found in their 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey  that 15 percent of high school students were electronically bullied in the past year.

“Internet bullying has grown because it is more accessible and easier to bully people from the comfort of their own home,” Dolowy said.

Stopbullying.gov says kids who are bullied may be at risk of increased alcohol and drug use, skipping school, poor grades, lower self-esteem, and even more health problems.

Dolowy said the best way to prevent bullying is to “walk away, and provide evidence to show administration and faculty.”

“Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy,” WeUpstanders’ website said.

“Being able to talk to my mom got me through it,” Kytlica said.

If you or someone you know is being bullied, you can contact the Cyber Bully Hotline at 1-800-420-1479.


Moderator: Samantha Benitz

Producer: Ken Harvey

Anchor: Ashley Goosen

Reporters: Beau Akers, Cristal Canedo, Briseida Holguin and Nancy Moreira






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When Bullying Goes Viral

Cyber bullying continues to affect kids, adolescents and adults nationwide. About 32 percent of all teenagers who use the internet say they have been targets of annoying and potentially menacing online activities, according to a Pew Research Study. The study also indicated that older adolescent girls are more likely to report being bullied than any other age and gender group.

Research on cyber bullying is growing, but because technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey.

Dr. Brendesha Tynes, associate professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Southern California, agreed the research studies are not quite accurate.

“The studies that are out there — some of the national representative studies — show only about 10 percent of the population are experiencing cyber bullying,” Tynes said.

Roxanne Moschetti, assistant professor in CSUN’s Department of Adolescent and Child Development, said social media, particularly anonymous posting apps such as YikYak, make it difficult for educators and parents to battle cyber bullying.

“Even if we are doing our job about educating everyone about reporting cyber bullying,” Moschetti said,  “if they are using an app like that, it cannot be traced back. I can see apps like that allowing bullying to go under the radar.”

Moschetti said another problem is that kids do not want to admit to their parents that they are being bullied. She said that increased anxiety and withdrawal from social interaction are two common signs that a child might be uncomfortable.

Monica Barajas, Special Operations Administrator of the Family Violence Unit at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said that harsher punishments would help minimize the amount of cyber bullying in schools.

“The law should implement more regulations and have harsher consequences, even at the school district level and college level,” Barajas said. “Our education, citywide in the city of Los Angeles, is to constantly educated people to report it to law enforcement if they feel they are being victimized.”

Currently, the US Supreme Court is considering where to draw the line when it comes to protecting free speech on social media.

“If you are saying direct things and issuing direct threats online, then there should be a limit to your free speech,” Tynes said.

Moschetti says it is important to distinguish the difference between a threat and free speech.

“That’s where the education comes in,” she said. “What is a threat and what is free speech? You have to pay close attention to that, and educate everyone involved.”

Barajas said that prosecuters feel that if a reasonable person feels threatened by online harassment and reports it, that’s enough for law enforcement officials to move forward and investigate.

“What I would hope to see is more reporting,” Moschetti said, “and taking it seriously – where everyone takes it seriously.”

“The other part is the bully,” Barajas said. “Getting education and resources for that person who is doing it. It’s the resources for those people, and the counseling, and figuring out what is happening in their home that they are constantly on someone else.

“My hope is we will get more of these apps like Rethink, that help people evaluate whether they want to send a message,” Tynes said. “Don’t send this. Think twice, and hopefully more people will do that.”


Moderator: Carly Bagingito

Producer: Alex Vejar

Anchor: Katie Fauskee

Social Media Editor: Lauren Llanos

Reporters: Dean Perez and Zulay Saldana

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