Bullying: A Serious Issue That Needs to End

By Ashley Bowden ‘14

    Bullying is a recurring issue that just won’t seem to go away. Do people not understand how even one simple insult can affect someone? That what you see as “joking around” can do real damage? Bullying has worsened over the years, thanks to new technology and social media. Now, once someone is caught in the middle of something, they often feel stuck and hounded by their bullies day and night, thanks to the internet.

    Bullying is when someone forces, threatens, abuses, intimidates, or aggressively dominates another person. The definition sounds all fancy and makes it sound like it’s just a worst-case scenario. However, calling someone a name, making a joke, a dirty look, no matter how simple or meaningless it seems, is still considered bullying.

    Bullying changes over the years. It’s starts with just some basic teasing on the playground at recess and soon develops to the occasional shove or physical altercation, and as students keep getting older both the physical and emotional abuse often become stronger and more frequent. When students hit the right age that their parents allow them access to social media and online access, it gets easier for the bully to hide behind the anonymity of the internet and easier for the bullied to remember every detail and remind themselves of it.

    Everyone is at risk. Bullying can happen to anyone, at any time. There are so many outlets that allow kids and teens to bully or to be bullied. New technology is being spit out left and right that gives students more access to the internet, while supervision of teens’ use of the internet and social media is decreasing. Because of this, people are being attacked both in person and online. Bullying isn’t something that just happens at school now, or at the park. Cyberbullying is just as common and often does even more damage, since there are typically more attackers due to the anonymity or detachment people feel hiding behind a screen. Whether it’s on social media websites, IM, chat rooms, or via text messages/pictures, it’s out there and it’s growing

    Bullying seems to be happening more and more often in today’s society, and yet the amount of times it’s caught are becoming fewer and fewer. One of the main factors is that it doesn’t happen out in the open, it’s more behind the scenes, so no one really knows what happened, and it becomes a “he said, she said” situation.

    Kids are bullied for all kinds of reasons. Sexual orientation, religious beliefs, education, background, etcetera. It seems to me like there is no one reason why bullying occurs, and that the bullied are often targeted just for being themselves.

I recently watched the movie “Cyberbully” and the documentary “Bully”. Both films capture the problem and show how serious it is and how little response there is. The main thing that gets me, though, is when parents won’t own up to their child’s actions. For example, in “Cyberbully”, when the mom of the victim addresses the dad of the bully, he doesn’t care, saying it’s called freedom of speech. When do we realize that words can do real damage, that teens are indeed taking their own lives over this issue, and that some of us are just letting it happen?

    Only some states in the United States have laws against cyberbullying. People need to take more of an interest in this matter and realize there are things that need to be done. Restrain from saying something mean to someone, even if you see it as just a joke. Say “hi” to that random kid sitting alone and looking down. Speak up when you see someone being bullied. Report any bullying you see. Most importantly, for those who are bullied, face to face or even online, get help from someone you trust.

    Edward Little took the first step when they created the #NoBull project and put it on mentor t-shirts. The only issue is, it’s not reinforced or really followed up on and some students use the “no bull” thing as a joke now. What the school should do is put some more force behind the motion and maybe have an assembly at the beginning and end of the year, maybe from some guest speakers who have been victims. The only way to show people that there is indeed an issue is to prove it to them. People need to understand what bullying is and what it can do before more people get hurt.

Bullying is preventable and can be stopped, but not without your help. Take your part in a movement to end bullying now. Remember #NoBull.

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