Living in the shadow of a bully

Opinion

Bullying is no longer a laughing matter.  Something needs to be done about this problem affecting our youth today. In the United States alone, at least 30 percent, that is 1 out of 4 kids, report being bullied, and 1 out of 5 report being a bully to someone else.  Literally every 7 minutes a child is being bullied. Bullying takes on many different meanings, such as to hit, threaten, intimidate, maliciously tease or taunt, name-calling, making sexual remarks, stealing or damaging someone else’s property, or, in a more subtle approach, spreading rumors or encouraging others to join in against another person.

Much of this abuse occurs in secondary school settings, but even more common finding itself in elementary schools, as well as college campuses, then reaching beyond to cyberbullying. The number of cases is on the rise, being viewed as a leading contributor to homicide and suicide. Most teens believe revenge is the strongest motivation to get back at those who hurt them. Many students find themselves terrified to be in their own school. Some will skip class while suffering from anxiety, depression, withdrawal and low self-esteem which in turn will lead to lower grades or throwing them into social isolation.

The most horrid of these cases will end in suicide. One such case out of many was Jayme Rodemeyer, a 14 year old who killed himself as a result of being taunted for years at school due to his sexual orientation. The torment he endured was relentless. His was a cry for help that came too late. His parents were aware of his suffering. There has to be an accountability held for these bullies and their victims. Programs are being implemented in schools, but it all takes too long. A child must be made to feel secure about talking to a trusted adult. Parents must join forces with the school and devise a plan for their students now.

As long as there is silence, the bully feels he has the chance to do more. Stop him! If a teen is being bullied, get help from someone now. Alert others. Do not stop talking until others listen. Friends, parents and teachers must be on the lookout for these signs. Friends almost always know what a peer is going through. Watch one another’s backs. If you know about a problem, report it. I believe the first course of action is to show a bully no response: walk away, no emails or words. This will eliminate the fuel they need to keep it fun. They will become bored with this and probably stop. Most of all, I believe teens should join in with others who make them feel good about themselves to find true friends. Victims must realize they did not ask to be the target of someone else’s anger. They don’t have to take it. Stay strong. Rise above them. Find courage within yourself, stand strong and hopefully the pain will stop.

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