Watching the news the last couple of weeks has been saddening. Several stories have emerged about young teens taking their lives because they were bullied. It just breaks my heart.
As I read through the stories, I find a few things in common. First, it seems that when kids are interviewed about the suicide victim, they talk about how they were really nice, or a loner. The peers in question also knew that the child was being bullied. When I read this, it makes me stop and think why didn’t any other student in the school stand up for that kid. I believe the answer lies in the fact that our society has made standing up to bullying unacceptable, thereby endorsing bullying. Not only that, in some ways it is common sense and self-preservation on the part of the peer. The peer sees students who are getting picked on daily and know that if they try to step up, they will be next on the list. Often they have watched the student go to many adults in the school only to run into a brick wall each time. They are hesitant to step up because, from what they have observed, if they were to come under fire, there would be no help for them either.
This leads me to my second commonality. When questioned, most administrators will make a couple of different comments. First, they will almost always say that the kid was a good kid. Then they will either go on to say that they had no idea the bullying was going on, or that while the kid was a good kid, they had other problems that more than likely contributed to the suicide. This is a nice way to absolve themselves of their absence from the problem.
When I read these statements, it just leads to more questions than answers. First, if the administration truly thought that the student was a “good kid”, why would they not believe them when help was requested or stand up to help them? Also, when I hear about some saying that the bullying wasn’t the only problem, what is that supposed to mean? Do they truly know how dark and lonely it can be when you are constantly looking over your shoulder wondering from which direction the next blow will come? Have they not seen the brain research that states that a child who is constantly bullied actually has a different brain than those who are not? It also begs the question, which came first? Do some of the other issues, such as depression for example, happen as a result of being bullied? It is a dark world for a child who is being bullied.
The more I read and research bullying and its effects, the more that I realize we are going about dealing with bullying in the wrong way. As a society, we must take a stand and let the ones who are bullied know they are not the ones who have something wrong with them. It is the bully. The bully is the one who needs the help. Until we unite and decide as a society that we will work aggressively with the bully to correct their behavior, the bullying cycle will continue to grow. Until we teach and foster an atmosphere of compassion for our fellow human beings, we will have the problems that make our schools an ugly place to go for far too many children. Bullying is a cancer in our society that has been left untreated and continues to grow. It makes our society an uncivilized place to live. We must take a stand and help change our society for the better.