On September 18, 2011 a 14-year-old Jamey Redeemer took his life after years of bullying. The news spread in a blink of an eye. The whole country mourned. Jamey cried for help for months. He regularly posted online about being bullied at school and how people would launch insults at him. Soon, students started to bully Jamey online. They posted horrible things like “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it It would make everyone WAY more happier!” Jamey left several messages on his blog letting everyone know that he was in trouble and needed help. But still no one listened. On Saturday night he posted a lyric from Lady Gaga’s song on his Facebook page which said: “Don’t forget me when I come crying to heaven’s door.” In a few hours he wrote that he was looking forward to seeing his great grandmother, who recently died. It was Jamey’s final message. (“Suicide: Police Consider Criminal Bullying Charges”)
As identified by the the United States Department of Justice, bullying has two key components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power. “It involves repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a victim who cannot properly defend him- or herself because of size or strength, or because the victim is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient.”(“Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series”) In other words, children are verbally and physically assaulted by their peers every day. At school, bullies rip their victim’s self-esteem to shreds while theirs gets high. It has become a huge problem in the U.S. Nearly 160 000 students stay home and miss school everyday due to the fear of being bullied. 20% of all children say they have been bullied and 20% of high school students say they have seriously considered suicide with the last 12 months. By age 24, 60% of bullies have a criminal record. (“National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education”)
As a matter of fact, bullying can occur almost anywhere. At home. At work. At school or even on the street. It becomes a very widespread, invisible threat. Statistics go that that one out of 4 boys or girls will be bullied sometime throughout their childhood. (“The United States Department of Justice”) The media started to pay more attention to the problem of bullying recently. While it is seemingly impossible to defeat, it can be overturned. This is possible if parents get involved, students are taught how to identify and stop bullying, and if individuals stand up for and support the victims and bullies. These solutions overtime will definitely bring bullying to its demise.
One of the widespread questions is who truly a bully is, why does he or she behave in such a way or another. For the most part, bullies are the kids who feel insecure about their beliefs and appearance or who are the victims of bullying. In that case, bullying becomes a mental defense for the victims. “A number of researchers believe that bullying occurs due to a combination of social interactions with parents, peers and teachers. The history of the parent-child relationship may contribute to cultivating a bully, and low levels of peer and teacher intervention combine to create opportunities for chronic bullies to thrive (as will be discussed later).” (“Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series”) A child that comes from a poor, abusive and usually one-parent family will probably end up a bully. Being picked on at school or simply rejected by the peers, kids tease smaller ones just to feel better about themselves and release negative energy.
Tracy Vaillancourt, Canada Research Chair in children’s mental health and violence prevention at the University of Ottawa claims that there are two types of bullies. The first type is the habitual bullies. “They tend to be really impulsive and have poor emotional regulation. And that represents about 10 per cent of kids who bully others.” (“Interview: Who’s a Bully?”) Basically, Tracy Vaillancourt is saying that this type of a bully is the most rare one, but at the same time it is the most severe and brutal. It more or less becomes a disease that requires an immediate medical intervention.
The point is that this type of a bully is the easiest to identify: it is usually impulsive kids who get into trouble in school for bad behavior. The second type of a bully is everyday kids. According to Tracy Vaillancourt, “they tend to be really popular; because they have power, they can abuse power.” It is the hardest type of a bully to identify. Therefore, it is the most dangerous one. Parents usually get blindsided when their kid might be bullying someone. They take their child’s side, and it is completely natural. Parents want to protect their son or daughter no matter what. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that they do more harm than good and that the consequence of such parenting behavior can be catastrophic.
“In terms of childhood abuse and bullying, it is possible that intrusive, flashback memories of these traumatic events occur in adolescence and adulthood.” (“Society and Psychosis”) In other words, the authors of the “Society and Psychosis” believe that a victim of bullying will suffer psychological harm for almost the rest of his or her life. Moreover, a bullied child is more likely to develop a criminal record or get psychiatric disorder and mental illness than his or her peers. (“Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Series”) At this point, suicidal behavior becomes a real threat. And numerous teenage suicides and suicidal attempts are an alert and a call to action to all of us.
As bullying becomes a serious problem, people try to come up with different ways of solving it. Different programs, developed to stop or at least reduce bulling, almost every time pay much attention to the parents and teachers. On the one hand, I agree that authorities including but not limited to parents, teachers and professor are capable of maintaining a positive surrounding for the kids creating a safe, free from bullying environment. But on the other hand, I still insist that those authorities are not the key to solving this problem. Bullying has been identified as a potential threat for a long time.
This issue has been discussed many time at the different forums and summits, and all kinds of programs were introduced to stop it. But, apparently, it’s not working. Most of the teachers don’t even care about their students lives, since it’s not their business. That’s the way things are in my home country Russia. Teachers go to the classes, give lectures and go back home. They view their job as a way to educate students on a particular field of study. When, in fact, teachers are mentors for children or at least that’s what the have to be. They should set an example of a loving, accepting, tolerant human being who is willing to help and support a person in need whether it’s a student, colleague or a friend.
The most important thing is that the first step in stopping bullying has to be made by us, the ones who are often easily affected by it. Every each one of us can contribute to solving this problem and making the world a better place. First of all, we have to change the climate of the school environment and stop putting the power in the hands of the teachers, or the government. I don’t believe they have the answers. I believe we do. It is out lives after all.
The truth is that there’s no law that can be passed on the federal level to stop or prevent bullying. The public school system in the U.S. is operated by state laws that are hard to pass. (“Bullying Prevention State Laws”) Rather than dealing with the legal system, we should come to an understanding that we have the power to make a shift in how people view bullying and react to it. It is not an over night thing. It has to become a cultural change, a movement of tolerance, love and acceptance.
Another thing is that people pay too much attention to cyber bullying and consider it as the major dangerous form of bullying. But, truthfully, it’s really not. It’s the most visible because you can see all the hate mails and comments online. The worst bullying experience is face to face, on the street, in the school, at home.
There has to be a support system in our communities. We need to change the way kids think about themselves. There has to be a suppоrt system around every human being that can help anyone build confidence in themselves and others. The work has to be done from the ground up. Creating a climate and an environment in schools where everyone feels safe has to become a priority today for parents, school administration, teachers and students themselves. By doing little acts of kindness, we will create a loving and accepting environment.
Just come to a friend or a person you don’t know. Say a compliment or how good the weather is today, or simply: you look great. These are the things that are going to chаnge the culture and make a huge shift in how people communicate and react to bullying in a particular environment. Just set an example. Because teenager are very impressionable. And if you set an example, the rest will follow. Find a friend. Tell somebody in your life, someone important or maybe someone you don’t know about love, tolerance and acceptance. It is not gonna be just the experts that are going to change things. It is going to be all of us.
As we all know, life is an energy. And we are responsible for the energy we bring into this space. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. If you insult someone, the negative energy you put onto them will come back to you. By brining negative energy onto those people, you are making them bring negative energy onto others.
Firstly, empowering youth is one of the keys to stopping bullying. All of us have to set an example of brave and tolerant human beings. It has to become cool to be the person that says that something’s not quite right here, that help is needed here. For whatever reason, students tend to ignore the acts of bulling or teasing in school. They go to classes, do their homework, hand in the paper, go home… Students notice the violence, happening in schools, but the do not speak about it. There needs to be attention that is payed to looking for signs of violence and bullying. When students start to look up for each other, then the major shift is made.
Secondly, using a multifaceted, comprehensive approach will definitely decrease the percentage of bullied kids. This approach includes establishing a school-wide policy that addresses indirect bullying, providing guidelines for teachers and, most importantly, students on specific actions to take if bullying occurs, encouraging students to report known bullying, to be supportive to classmates who may be bullied and educating and involving parents so they understand the problem and the importance of it.
I believe that each of us comes with a gift – to use our lives, to bring goodness to the world, to connect with other people. Every single person, whether it’s victim of violence or the person who committed the violence,has one thing in common: we all want to know that what we do and what we say and who we are matters. We want to be validated. Every single person. Every argument is really about: do you see me, do you hear me, does what I say mean anything to you? Come up to a girl who always seats alone at the canteen, talk to her. Maybe you will be the one who’ll make her day. Be loving, accepting and tolerant. Only this way we’ll create a kind, free from violence and bullying environment.
Courtney from Study Moose
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