Bluto the Bully

Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko and Officer Mark Chavis

Lately, the topic of bullying has come up a lot in the news media, be it with the tragic suicide of a 12-year-old girl in Florida, or the recent issues among Miami Dolphin football players. While bullying, and its cousins, hazing and stalking, have been with us for a long time, there is no question that the introduction of the Internet and social media, and the anonymity they can bring, have added a new dimension to an old problem.

The Miami Dolphin case is of special interest because it shows that bullying isn’t something that gets left behind in high school. Starting at college can be a chance to start with a clean social slate, but experience tells us some of these issues will arise again at Case Western Reserve University. So here are a couple points.

Physical bullying is illegal—it’s called assault in Ohio and is a first-degree misdemeanor (up to six months in jail) and certainly against university policy as well. If you have been a victim of a physical assault, report it immediately to a campus authority. Don’t let someone tell you that you shouldn’t report it because the abuse was part of some obscure ritual, because you are supposed to take it like a man or because someone loves you and they just got a little angry.

Harassment is a little bit more of a grey area depending on the activity. Threats of physical violence are something the police can act on. If you have told someone you don’t want to hear from them anymore and they continue to swamp you with texts or voicemails that can be legal harassment as well—as much as it might pain you to do so, think about saving at least some of these messages as evidence. And every year, some poorly ended relationship or roommate dispute ends up as a Facebook war, which may or may not become a police matter, but can certainly get you in hot water with the university judicial process. Just remember that most of what you do online is easily recoverable in many cases, so don’t do something you’d regret later. Bullying is wrong, whether you’re a Dolphin or a Spartan.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko & Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. Send feedback to this or other columns at policecolumn@case.edu.