Title: Enough is Enough: Together Let’s Stop Bullying
Tanya was a shy 12 year old girl who did not have many friends. She was the youngest of five children and her parents struggled and worked hard to take care of her and her siblings. They lived in a small apartment and often times had to get help from the neighbors. Tanya did not wear the latest designer clothes but her mother made sure she was neat and clean everyday she went to school. As much as she tried to fit in she could not. Her peers thought she wasn’t good enough and she definitely didn’t look the part. Because of this, Tanya was the object of name calling, taunting and even sometimes hitting. This abuse from her peers caused her to withdraw even more at home and in school. Her mother noticed the drastic change and tried to help her but was unsuccessful. Being picked on constantly at home and in her neighborhood, Tanya decided it was too much to bear. One night while at home alone she took her own life. She left a note saying, “I’m sorry mom and dad but it was too much. I’m better off this way and now at least no one will hurt me.”
Although the above story is fiction, there are thousands of cases like this across the country. Children are being bullied at an alarming high rate in our schools and communities and as adults we have to stop this behavior. There are children who are afraid to go to school daily for fear of being taunted or ridiculed because of who they are. Usually children who have been deemed as an outcast are genuinely the target of bullying. Children who are not perceived as popular, well dressed, attractive or social butterflies tend to be the ones targeted. This is not always the case but often times the reason given by the person doing the bullying.
According to the website Stopbullying.gov there are three types of bullying. They are verbal, social, and physical. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. It consists of name calling, teasing, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments and threatening to cause harm. This type of bullying is very common and is often used as the beginning of the abuse. Social bullying is hurting someone’s reputation or relationship. It consists of leaving someone out on purpose (sporting games, group project, etc.); telling other children not to be their friends; and spreading rumors and embarrassing someone. This type of bullying is also common and is usually the next step in bullying someone. Last but not least is physical bullying which is hurting a person’s body or possessions. It consist of hitting, spitting, kicking, taking or breaking someone’s things or making mean or rude hand gestures. Once the bullying has escalated to this point it is very serious and often times the person experiencing this abuse is not going to tell out of fear.
In order to prevent bullying in our schools and neighborhoods we have to first admit there is a problem. Once we have done that there has to be a safe haven for children to go to. They have to feel safe, secure and free to speak about what is being done to them. Judgment from the adults cannot be a factor or the child will feel as if they did something wrong. In our schools there needs to be a zero tolerance to bullying so that everyone can understand this type of behavior is not acceptable. Programs centered on bullying need to be in place as well as incorporated into the teaching curriculum. Children need to understand that being different is what makes us all unique and embrace it instead of attacking it.
Within our communities there also needs to be a place where children can go to and freely talk about what is happening to them. If they are in need of resources along with their families, we have to have them readily available. Rallies, summer fests, and other city programs during the summer should incorporate an anti-bullying campaign where the abused and abuser can get the help they need on the spot. If we as a school family and community address this issue as one of importance then we must handle it as such. We have to understand that not only the child being bullied is at risk, or the child doing the bullying is at risk, but as a whole we are all at risk. Often times the child who has been bullied grows up to become an aggressive, angry, possible abuser who will continue the cycle. Somewhere we have to intervene to save a child from that fate.
There have been certain network stations that have taken the responsibility to address the bullying issues, as well as various celebrities speaking out against it. The biggest message we can send to the person doing the bullying is we are not going to tolerate it and it is not acceptable. Taking small steps leads to big steps which lead to conversation and resolution. It is all worth it if we can save a child from the fate of Tanya in the above story. We have to also embrace and help the person doing the bullying because more than likely they are in pain as well. So, I am standing against bullying and I have a zero tolerance for it, do you?