Myth Busting: Bullying on College Campuses

by Hillary Morin, M.Ed.

MYTH:  Bullying is only experienced by children.

BUSTED: The topic of bullying often is associated with younger students, however, students in higher education are not immune to these behaviors. As entering college students learn to navigate their new and likely wider social networks on campus, they continue to be at risk for experiencing physical, relational, and cyber forms of bullying. Research suggests that bullying is a widespread issue on college campuses, with 60% of college students witnessing a student bully another student and about 25% of college students self-identifying as victims of bullying (Chapell et al., 2004; Pontzer, 2010). Additionally, the rates of cyberbullying victimization among college students range from 1% to 11% (Schenk & Fremouw, 2012; Kraft & Wang, 2010; Smith & Yoon, 2013). College also creates an environment of broader social networks, novel peer interactions, and changes in the balance of power among students (Paludi, 2008).


MYTH: A bully or victim in childhood will not be a bully or victim in college.

BUSTED: Developmental research suggests there is continuity between bully or victim status across childhood, adolescence, and into college (Chapell et al., 2006; Isaacs, Hodges, & Salmivalli, 2008). Among those who identify as bullies or victims of bullying during college, many have had similar experiences during primary and secondary school. Longitudinal studies of children and adolescents indicate that there is a moderate to strong relationship between being peer-nominated as a bully or a victim across different time points. One such study found that a child’s status as a bully or victim at age eight was positively correlated with their status at age 16 as well as in college (Sourander, Helstela, Helenius, & Piha, 2000).  Additional studies have found support for the continuity of bullying experiences for both victims and perpetrators of bullying (Bauman & Newman, 2013; Chapell et al., 2006; Isaacs et al., 2008). These studies provide evidence of a relatively high level of continuity between in the experience of bullying across grade school through high school, and into college.


MYTH: There are no resources at USF to help victims of bullying.

BUSTED: USF has a number of important resources available for students who are struggling with bullying behaviors.

CAPS: Staff at USF Counseling and Psychological Services are available for consultation or therapy. Call (415) 422-6352 to schedule an appointment or get additional information about CAPS services.

CAPS After Hours: Struggling with an incident of bullying outside of 9 am – 5 pm CAPS business hours? Call CAPS After Hours at (415) 422-6352 and follow the prompts to be connected to a live therapist who can provide consultation and support.

OSCRR: The USF Office of Student Conduct, Rights, and Responsibilities is available at or (415) 422-5330 to answer questions and receive complaints related to USF student conduct, including bullying behaviors.

SHaRE: Support is also available through the resident directors, resident advisors, and community advisors through the office of Student Housing and Residential Education.

Websites: Additional information regarding college student and bullying behaviors is available at: and


Bauman, S., & Newman, M.L. (2013). Testing assumptions about cyberbullying: Perceived distress associated with acts of conventional and cyber bullying. Psychology of Violence, 3, 27-38.

Chapell, M., Casey, D., De la Crus, C., Ferrell, J., Forman, J., Lipkin, R., Newsham, M., Sterling, M., &Whitaker, S. (2004). Bullying in college by students and teachers. Adolescence, 39, 53-64.

Chapell, M. S., Hasselman, S. L., Kitchin, T., Lomon, S. N., Maclver, K. W., & Sarullo, P. L. (2006). Bullying in elementary school, high school, and college. Adolescence, 41,633-648.

Isaacs, J., Hodges, E., and Salmivalli, C. (2008). Long-term consequences of victimization: A follow-up from adolescence to young adulthood. European Journal of Developmental Science, 2, 387-397.

Kraft, E. M., & Wang, J. (2010). An exploratory study of the cyberbullying and cyberstalking experiences and factors related to victimization of students at a public liberal arts college. International Journal of Technoethics, 1, 74–91.

Paludi, M. (Ed.). (2008). Understanding and preventing campus violence. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Pontzer, D. (2010). A theoretical test of bullying behavior: parenting,personality, and the bully/victim relationship. Journal of Family Violence, 25, 259–273.

Schenk, A. M., & Fremouw, W. J. (2012). Prevalence, psychological impact, and coping of cyberbully victims among college students. Journal of School Violence, 11, 21–37. doi:10.1080/15388220.2011.630310

Smith, J. A., & Yoon, J. (2013). Cyberbullying presence, extent, & forms in a midwestern post-secondary institution. Information Systems Education Journal, 11, 52-78.

Sourander, A., Helstelä, I., Helenius, H., & Piha, J. (2000). Persistence of bullying from childhood to adolescence: A longitudinal 8-year follow-up study. Abuse and Neglect, 24, 873-881.

Quick Links

Sexual Assault Reporting

Click here to report to usf: reporting form


If you are in the midst of an emergency, please call USF Public Safety at 415-422-2911.

Medical Care

If you need immediate medical attention, please visit:
Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St., #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011

On-Campus Free and Confidential Support:

USF Counseling and Psychological Services(CAPS)
Gilson Hall, Lower Level
(415) 422-6352

University Ministry (ask to speak to a clergy member)
Toler Hall, Lower Level
(415) 422-4463

San Francisco Resources

San Francisco Women Against Rape: (415) 647-7273 or

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) - (415) 333-4357 Serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning communities

Domestic Violence - Riley's Center Crisis Line - (415) 255-0165 Advocates available for victims of domestic violence

La Casa de las Madres - Adults – (877) 503-1850;
Teens – (877) 923-0700
Counseling, information, resources, and referrals for survivors of domestic violence

Rape Treatment Center - (415) 437-3000
Those who have suffered from trauma, violence, and loss

Suicide Prevention - (415) 781-0500 Helping people who are having suicidal thoughts

WOMAN, Inc. - (415) 864-4722
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National Domestic Violence Hotline - (800) 799-SAFE
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National Sexual Assault Hotline - (800) 656-HOPE
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Youth needing assistance or in crisis situations

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(415) 924-6616 (crisis)
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(415) 457-2464 (main office)

(415) 457-2421 (TTY)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Intimate Partner Violence

Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse(CORA), San Mateo
Languages: English and Spanish
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(650) 259-1855 (legal services line for victims only)

(650) 652-0800 (office)

Languages: South Asian languages
(800) 215-7308 (help-line message machine will return calls in 24 hours)

(510) 444-6068 (office)

National Institute of Justice: Intimate Partner Violence

Office for Victims of Crime
Domestic and Family Violence

A Safe Place, Oakland

(510) 536-7233 (crisis)

(510) 986-8600 (office)

Shalom Bayit
Counseling for Jewish Women

(866) SHALOM-7 (help-line toll free)

(510) 451-8874 (office)

STAND! against Domestic Violence, Concord

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HealthRight 360
558 Clayton St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 746-1950

Lyon Martin Health Services
Provides health care to women, lesbians, and transgender people
1748 Market St, Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 565-7667 

San Francisco City Clinic
356 7th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 487-5500

San Francisco Free Clinic
4900 California St.
(Cross street 11th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 750-9894

Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St. #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011

Women's Community Clinic
1833 Fillmore St, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 379-7800

Law Enforcement

San Francisco Police Department
Emergency: 911
Non-Emergency: (415) 553-0123

Note: When calling 911 on a cellular phone near a highway, the call is connected to The California Highway Patrol (CHP) dispatch center. In other areas in San Francisco, the call will connect directly to SF dispatch. You can also dial directly to SF dispatch: (415) 553-8090

Legal Help

Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic(CROC)

(415) 864-1790 (office)

(415) 252-2844 (intake line)

US Department of Justice, Office of Violence against Women

US Department of Justice, Defending Childhood

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
(regional office)
50 Beale St., Suite 7200

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 486-5555
(877) 521-2172

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
(national office)
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Victim Services Division(SF DA’s Office)
850 Bryant St. #320
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 553-9044

Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (call for available intake times)


Community United Against Violence(CUAV)
427 South Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 333-4357 (safety line)
(415) 777-5500 (office
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Male Survivors

Male Survivor

Sexual Assault / Rape

Bay Area Women Against Rape(BAYWAR)
470 27th St.
Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 845-7273 (24-hour crisis line)
(510) 430-1298 (office
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault(CALCASA)
1215 K. St., Suite 1850

Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 446-2520

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)
(800) 656-HOPE (4673)

San Francisco Women Against Rape(SFWAR)
3543 18th St. #7
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 647-7273 (24-hour hotline)
(415) 861-2024 (office)

Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center(TRC/RTC)
San Francisco General Hospital
2727 Mariposa St., #100
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 437-3011


Asian Women's Shelter
Languages: multiple Asian languages spoken

(415) 751-0880 (crisis)
(877) 751-0880 (crisis)

(415) 751-7110 (office)

La Casa de las Madres
Languages: Spanish and English

(415) 503-0500 (office)

(877) 503-1850 (crisis)

(877) 923-0700 (teen line)

Riley Center and Emergency Shelter

(415) 255-0165 (crisis)

(415) 552-2943 (office)



(866) 331-9474
text "loveis" to 22522

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Hollaback!(San Francisco)

Stop Street Harassment(San Francisco)
(571) 449-7326

Other Support Organizations

A Call To Men

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Men Can Stop Rape

My Strength

Office on Women's Health