Standing up to bullies
We all recall the old saying, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’
Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s an age-old problem: Children, as well as adults, have been subjected to hurtful words by their peers. Unrelentless teasing is what it was often called. Before the Internet came into existence, this was generally done in person so the victim most likely knew who was their tormenter.
Now, with so many social media sites, cell phones and other gadgetry, it’s given the person doing the bullying some anonymity, making it harder for the victim to confront their attacker.
It also appears that with anonymity, the name-calling is harsher. In fact, it’s no longer referred to as teasing; it’s called bullying.
Bullying is defined as an intentional act, which is repeatedly done with intent to cause harm to the victim. The most common form of bullying is done verbally.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 30 percent of students in grades 6 through 10 have been bullied or admitted to bullying others at least ‘sometimes’ during a school semester.
And don’t think it doesn’t happen here in Harrison County, because it does.
The poem printed in last week’s newspaper, written by Officer Anthony Mills of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, was the police officer’s way of trying to define what bullying does to its victims. Mills has been investigating at least one accusation of bullying at one of the county’s high schools.
After last week’s story ‘Bullying on the rise’ hit the newsstands, one parent of a student here in the county thanked us for addressing this problem which seems to be increasing. The parent said their child had been bullied nearly every day of this school year until finally an adult at the school intervened. Unfortunately, this student wasn’t being verbally abused but rather physically abused. According to the parent, the child had been reluctant to say anything and hadn’t asked for help for fear of retaliation or being personally punished although the student had done nothing wrong.
That’s one of the sad parts of bullying: The victim often wonders what he or she did deserve being treatment that way. They need reassuring that it’s not their fault; rather, the person doing the bullying is the one who has a problem that needs to be addressed.
In an ideal world, we would tell those who are being bullied to ignore whatever is being said to them or about them. And if the acts are physically abusive, to avoid the person who is doing them.
Unfortunately, the targets of bullying are those who are most vulnerable. As children, they are developing their self-esteem and trying to find their place in society among their peers.
Bullying doesn’t just hurt the victim’s feelings. It often leads to the victim missing school or avoiding others. It can also lead to physical ailments, such as migraine headaches and anxiety, and, at worst, suicide.
To stop this epidemic, adults have to get involved. Don’t just assume that your child will tell you if he or she is a victim of bullying. Ask important questions and don’t be afraid to pry into your son or daughter’s life as much as you think necessary, especially if you suspect they are being victimized. There should be no reason why you can’t see what they are doing on the computer or through texting on their cell phones.
As adults, we must get children to understand that bullying of any kind is unacceptable.
There’s a great website, www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing, that addresses just about every aspect of bullying. It’s organized in a user-friendly manner and offers tips about how to help your child if he or she is a victim of bullying, and how to spot bullies, as well as ways to help end bullying.
Isn’t it time that we all stand up to bullies?