Rosalie DeAstis // Features Editor
We all watched it happen in movies like Forrest Gump and in TV shows like Recess growing up, but didn’t think anything of it. In fact, we may have laughed because we were entertained by it. I mean, how can you keep a straight face when the popular T-Birds in “Grease” pick on Eugene, pull his glasses off, and throw his tie on the ground?
These days, I think we can all agree that bullying is no longer comical. It is estimated that 160 thousand children miss school everyday due to fear of attack or intimidation by other classmates. One in every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeat bullying.
Today more people die of suicide than car accidents and it was found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. This past September, a 12 year-old from Lakeland, FL took her own life after a bullying incident that involved more than a dozen girls. The tween jumped off a cement factory tower after the girls terrorized her and told her she’s better off dead. Authorities found a number of hateful messages from the bullies on the little girl’s computer, one saying “Go drink bleach and die.”
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As college students, I don’t believe that bullying came to an end when we walked across the stage at graduation. It’s an ongoing problem and you don’t have to be a certain age to help stop it. Chances are, a lot of you reading this right now were victims of bullying when you were younger, or perhaps you have siblings and friends who went through it or still are.
So the question comes down to, what can we do? It’s more than just, “Don’t bully anyone.” No sh*t. Aside from trying to stop it from happening and not partake in it, the best thing we can do is simply be there for our loved ones. Children and adults with low self-esteem are less likely to stick up for themselves. If we try to support each other instead of compete with each other, things would be different.
You’re right, who named me queen of the Peace Corp? I’m not trying to make us all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I’m trying to make people realize that this is a growing issue that needs attention. Sadly, I can’t go to school with my baby brother every day and protect him from the “bad guys.” All I can do for him is help him develop a sense of self.
At the tender age of 12, he needs encouragement to learn about himself and what he’s passionate about. When he can identify who he is and be confident in who that person is, I know that the negativity from bullying won’t affect him like it is right now. However, he’s the not the only one I have sympathy for.
I am a strong believer that bullying occurs because a child was a victim of an issue that was out of their control. They went through something dramatic at a young, vulnerable age and spend the rest of their lives coping with it in certain ways.
Maybe it was an ugly divorce, a form of abuse, a loss of a family member, growing up with an addict… whatever the situation, the child could be affected emotionally, mentally and physically. Bullies need just as much compassion as do their victims.
So where can you start? Well, when was the last time you hugged your siblings and told them you love them? Sometimes the littlest acts of affection can have biggest impact. I feel that bullies and victims of bullying can deeply benefit from just a reminder that they are cared for.
Somewhere down the line, they may have been deprived of the attention and warmth they needed to grow up into self-assured individuals. As adults, it’s our responsibility to help the younger generation recognize that it gets better.