When did bullying become such a prevalent occurrence, and at what age are we first introduced to this growing epidemic of disrespect and hate? Being bullied in school by others has been a part of the growing up process for years and years. I’m sure that when three children attended the smallest, one room school houses on the American prairie, that two ganged up on one for any number of reasons, Many of those petty reasons still exist today, but instead of face to face taunting, they have been replaced by verbal insults and abuse much more easily administered by today’s immediate social networking capabilities. Those who are bullied today, cannot escape once school is done for the day. The abuse follows them wherever they are, by way of home computers and cell phones that grant those who dole out abusive behavior, 24 hour a day, access to their prey. What may start out as a playful taunt suddenly becomes a non-stop barrage of abuse by one or more, who consider themselves to be better or superior to those who they target with their bullying. How many American teens will end up trying to escape their tormentors by committing or at the least, attempting suicide, before the decent portion of American society that still exists, sits up, takes notice, and finally says, “NO MORE”, no more bullying! This is a serious epidemic that can be stemmed, controlled by parents and teachers who make themselves more attuned to the moods and behaviors of their families and their students.
Bullying usually starts out innocently enough; but still stems from the utter disrespect that an individual or group demonstrates against one of their peers. Verbal taunts, while not physically damaging to most, can cause great angst and discomfort to others. If the target of verbal taunting seems to be able to brush off the effects that those doing the taunting are trying to accomplish, then the bullying moves from verbal to physical. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. Remember that old saying while you were growing up? It’s true, words cannot harm you, but the degree to which those who bully today take their abuse, can often make that archaic adage untrue. When the target of the abuse gets hounded 24 hours a day, at school, at home, wherever they go, I can understand how that type of constant torture could make someone snap. Especially a young teen, fragile with insecurities, and peers more apt to find or devise faults rather than dealing and accepting differences. How can this epidemic be stemmed, before we lose even more of our promising future? Those who witness even the most innocent form of bullying need to step in, and quell the abuse before it gets out of hand. It is going to take more than parental intervention to help alleviate this type of abuse, as in most cases, the bullying does not occur in front of adults, but in schools or other places where kids assemble or congregate. What this senseless form of abuse needs to suffer, is the attention and intervention of the peers of those doling out and receiving the bullying. Of course, parents and teachers must also share the burden of guaranteeing the safety of children while at home or school. Parents cannot accompany their kids to school every day, but they can certainly make teachers and school supervisors know that they will be watching and paying attention to what their children are going through. Children must be instructed at an early age, that those who are different than they are, must still be shown respect and treated with dignity.
Electronic bullying happens all day long, and in most instances, is not discovered by a parent or teacher, until it is too late. Parents need to do more than just place the household computer in a public area of their home. They need to monitor what their children are involved with regarding using the computer. The World Wide Web is a wonderful thing, bringing the world to our homes, but it also is the conveyance by which insulting and hurtful comments can be delivered from small minded bullies. Cell phones, most of which today, are just small computers, also need to be monitored by parents. Not censored, MONITORED, so that they will be able to know if their children are suffering verbal abuse at the hands of others. Cell phones are wonderful and beneficial devices, but they can be deadly weapons when used by bullies to harass their prey. Parents need to know what is going on in their children’s lives, not just through report cards and parent/teacher conferences, but by monitoring what their children are getting involved with regarding home computers and personal cell phones. Parental monitoring could also be a great deterrent when it comes to those who perpetrate the bullying, causing them to think twice about sending a message aimed at hurting someone if they know that mom or dad might see that message.
To anyone who is reading this article right now who feels they are being bullied, abused or tormented in some way, remember this, those doing the bullying and abusing are shallow, scared, and insecure people, who need to make others lives miserable so theirs can be more tolerable. Those who bully are small minded, and unable to accept anyone or anything that is different or better than them. They also cannot conceive of people who don’t have to verbally or physically abuse those who might be smaller, taller, heavier, or in most cases, SMARTER than they are. Bullying is a blind, cowardly blood-sport, practiced by those who, if not protected by the anonymity afforded by the internet, would never dream of facing those they are tormenting head on. Bullies are not brave or strong enough to do anything up front or overt, they prefer to lurk in the shadows, like the vermin they are, and spew their anonymous venom at those who are not like them.
Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Make that old adage your mantra, your guiding light. And if you are suffering abuse, verbal or physical, let someone know. Tell your parents or your teachers, or better yet, tell your friends. Let someone know that you are the target of an abuser, so they can step in, and help you. Suicide is not the answer to bullying, it only helps those who perform this cowardly act, to feel more powerful, and that is something we can no longer tolerate. The world is a scary and dangerous enough place already, we cannot allow bullying, or hate, or anymore teen suicides caused by cowardly abuse.