School bullying has become more of a major issue these days due to the extent of some of it that has led to serious injuries and/or suicides of student victims. My own LinkedIn group, ‘People Against Retaliation and Bullying’ focuses on bullying and retaliation, the many ways in which children and adults bully each other, and the many unnecessary, tragic suicides – called ‘bullicides’ – of many young people. 😦
All one has to do is to search for “student suicides” and/or “bullicides” online, and the names, photos, and stories of many young people are provided of those who have killed themselves due to bullying. Students such as Phoebe Prince, Rachel Ehmke, Jessica Laney, Felicia Garcia, Joshua Pacheco, Kristina Calco, and Jared High took their own lives due to bullying. A website by Christopher Burgess includes an article titled, “Bullying: The 34 we Lost in 2010 to Bullycide,” found at http://www.burgessct.com/2011/02/bullying-rip/ . 😦
And, there are so many more who are bullied, repeatedly in school, including my own child. My brother and I were bullied when we were in school, my parents were bullied when they were in school, and my own child has been bullied in school. Because my child is very good and kind, and is considerate of others’ feelings, I find that he tends to be bullied even more, not only by his peers, but by adults, as well.
Fairly recently, in a meeting with several school employees at a particular school regarding a young student, one teacher informed me that everyone experiences a certain amount of bullying, that we all have experienced it. My question is why is she so accepting of it? Why is she so tolerant of it? What if one of her students committed suicide due to bullying? Why does she – and others – allow it to continue? To me, these attitudes about bullying are unacceptable, and I can, therefore, provide an explanation for why bullying occurs and why it continues.
Bullying is nothing less than psychological violence by one or more people toward one or more others. It appears to me that children – and adults – who are insecure about themselves and/or others have a need to bully, harass, degrade, and/or otherwise put others down. Why? Because it raises them up! Putting others down makes them feel good! They have absolutely no regard or consideration for the manner in which their words and/or actions hurt their targets and victims. They have not been taught to have regard or consideration for others’ feelings, values, perspectives, needs. They are selfish and insecure, and seek to demean and devalue others out of their own flawed egos.
When my own child is bullied by others – including peers and adults – I have repeatedly told him that others act in such a manner because they have a problem. This is truly what I believe – that they do, in fact, have the problem. And, sadly, often when kids bully other kids – or when adults bully other adults – it becomes like a gang mentality in which the bully enlists other bullies to bully the victim. It has happened to me, it has happened to my child.
Even so, the bullies have no idea of the damage and pain they have caused their targets and victims. They have absolutely no clue, and they truly believe that they have done no wrong, even going so far as to deny or lie about their injurious words and/or actions. Time and again, I have interacted with school principals and school teachers who have denied the truth – to my face – in order to save their own skin. Heaven forbid they are not always professional and/or exceptional. Would it not be better to acknowledge the issues, and deal proactively with the problems, solving them and making improvements? How can bullies see that there are any problems when they are, in fact, bullies themselves? This is a big root of the issue.
I am personally aware of a couple of recent issues related to bullying of a youngster who is close to me. In one situation, a peer bully repeatedly taunted and pestered his target to look at a picture in a book of which the target was afraid. The target has a phobia of the creature that was pictured in the book. The target told the bully, repeatedly, that he did not want to see the book or the picture. The bully forced the target to look at the picture by placing the book in front of him. The bully then stated to the target that he (the target) could do anything he wanted to the book. Therefore, the target scribbled, lightly in pencil over the picture of the creature in the book of which he has a phobia.
The bully not only misled the target, but also betrayed him by informing their teacher that the target had defaced his book. When the target tried to explain the situation to the teacher, the teacher did not listen. Instead, the teacher sent the target to the principal’s office, where the target (who has outstanding behavior, I might add) was issued a lengthy detention of 45 minutes (which is also a greater amount of time than school policy!) for the situation. When the target attempted to explain what occurred to the assistant administrator who issued the consequences, she also did not listen to him. In addition, the target was required to write an apology letter to the bully.
This, by the way, was the second instance in which the particular bully instigated a situation that caused a reaction by the target, causing the target to be blamed and receive consequences, including the severe consequences of the lengthy detention. The target felt so hurt, sad, and betrayed by the actions of everyone involved that he no longer wanted to go to school, and worse, which I will not comment on here.
However, this is a perfect example of bullying, victim-blaming, and how others’ refusal to consider and account for the entire situation causes repeatedly-targeted children to feel sad, hopeless, betrayed, and unsupported. Such lacks of consideration, compassion, and understanding are unnecessary; and I find that they are generally lacking to an even greater extent when the teacher’s son is the bully and/or a teacher’s children attend the school in which she teaches.
In another example of bullying experienced by someone close to me, a boy and his friend approached another boy and some girls on the playground at recess. The two boys simply wanted to play with the others. The bully repeatedly physically pushed the target on several places on his body, including his back, chest, and arm. The target yelled at the bully to stop, but the bully didn’t stop. The target’s friend supported the target in telling the bully to stop, but the bully didn’t stop. The target, therefore, became so upset that he ran away from the bully.
When the situation was investigated by the teachers of the students involved, based on the report to them by a parent of the target, it was confirmed by the students that what was reported was what occurred. However, rather than the teacher(s) sending the bully to the principal’s office and/or even documenting any disciplinary consequences toward the bully, they (the teachers) left it up to the children to come up with their own solution! Does this situation scream of unfairness? Does it obviously reflect inconsistency in policy? Does it show a lack of understanding and sensitivity toward the feelings of the victim? I answer, “Yes” to each of those questions.
What ended up happening is that, indeed, the bully and the target where given the responsibility by their teachers to devise their own solution. The boys decided to write apology letters to each other – the one boy for repeatedly pushing the other boy, and the second boy for yelling at the other boy to stop pushing him! Can you believe this?! So, not only has the target been bullied, but he has been revictimized by having to write his own apology letter to the bully for standing up for himself! Further, no official disciplinary documentation of any sort was made regarding the bully who did all of the pushing on the other boy! Therefore, the teachers have reflected that this sort of situation is entirely acceptable and tolerable, and even worse, they supported the victim being revictimized rather than fair, consistent justice occurring in the matter. This situation was not taken seriously, nor handled effectively, especially in regard to the target.
This is exactly how bullying among school students goes potentially “unnoticed” and unresolved. This is exactly how bullying among students continues. This is exactly how students such as those who are bullied become even more reluctant to inform on their peers – and, after awhile, actually do not inform against their peers – for bullying them – when they (the victims, themselves) are blamed and/or revictimized, and/or no effective solution or official documentation is made about the bullying they experienced.
This type of bullying on a repeated basis by a student’s peers, teachers, and/or administrators is exactly what causes targets to believe that they are not valued, unsupported, hated, and to believe that they are better off dead. Sadly, the bullies still believe they are doing no wrong. They have no consideration or regard for the feelings of the victim. Even after students actually kill themselves, they often still believe that they have done no wrong and no harm.
I wish we had schools in which everyone was kind to each other. I wish we had schools in which everyone could just be friends. I wish that everyone could be more kind, compassionate, understanding, considerate, and sensitive toward each other. Repeated bullying, including hurtful words by a child’s peers and authority figures in their lives, critically harms the developing egos of many youngsters and youth. Such repeated bullying and the refusal of others to understand, consider, and/or take seriously it’s negative effects does cause youngsters and youth to kill themselves.
Increased positive change is needed in order to stop bullying. Let us not become tolerant and accepting of bullying or bullicide. Let us take a stand against it, requiring sensitivity training of our school teachers and administrators. Let us teach children and youth to respect, accept, and appreciate each other’s similarities and differences. Let us find joy and growth in diversity. Let us stomp out bullying and bullicide by raising the bar of understanding, compassion, consideration, and sensitivity for everyone. Let us not revictimize the victims. Let us not support the offenders and their bullying words and actions. The time is now to open our eyes to bullying and it’s harmful effects, or more will be lost to this unnecessary social tragedy. 😦
Christopher Burgess. “Bullying: The 34 we Lost in 2010 to Bullycide.” http://www.burgessct.com/2011/02/bullying-rip/. Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
Helen Pow. “‘I can’t. I’m done. I give up:’ Bullied teen jumps to her death in front of train as schoolmates look on in horror just days after harrowing tweet.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223133/Felicia-Garcia-suicide-Bullied-teen-jumps-death-train-schoolmates-look-horror-just-days-harrowing-tweet.html . Mail Online (October 25, 2012). Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
“In Memory of Jared High.” http://www.jaredstory.com/kristina.html . Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
Jessica Alaney. “R.I.P. Jessica Laney.” http://www.bullyville.com/?page=story&id=5735 . Bullyville.com (December 11, 2012). Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
Michelle Calco. “Kristina’s Story.” http://www.jaredstory.com/kristina.html . Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
“Rachel Emkhe, 13 Year Old Minnesota Student, Commits Suicide.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/rachel-ehmke-13-year-old-_n_1501143.html . Huffington Post. com (May 8, 2012). Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
Sarah Schuch. “Parents blame bullying for son’s suicide: Linden High School junior remembered for love of theater.” http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2012/12/parents_blame_bullying_for_son.html . Retrieved on February 16, 2013.
“Suicide of Phoebe Prince.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Phoebe_Prince . Retrieved on February 16, 2013.