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Swirlies, nugees, wet willies, wedgies. We’ve all heard of them and some of us have had the unfortunate luck of experiencing them. If you are like me, when I was a 12 year old in 6th grade it was common to see “locker vandalism” by bullies, all the way to kids getting de-pantsed in the hallways. Yeah, it might sound funny, but I bet now you’re thinking about yourself, or someone you know who has been a victim of humiliating and hurtful actions like these. It’s called bullying. We all know what that word is, but for those of you who need a refresher; it’s using force, threats, and intimidation to hurt, scare and overpower someone else. Recognizing what it is, is the first step in taking action to prevent and stop it. Bullying takes many forms and it’s important to know how to handle it when a situation arises.
So maybe you’ve never noticed kids getting bullied in school, or maybe you are just popular and everyone seems to like you. Well, if you look around in your everyday life you are sure to find plenty of examples to help you understand how bullying works and how anyone can be a victim to it. Take Rebecca Black for example. She was a 13 year old kid, like some of you here, who was a passionate singer and wanted to show the whole world her talent. “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday.” We’ve all heard that song and I’m sure after I’m done talking you will be singing that song for the rest of the day. Though her song Friday is recognized by many, it isn’t necessarily liked or even listened to by choice.
For some reason because of that song, Rebecca was hated on and bullied in person, on the internet through social media sites, blackmailed and almost every way possible. People of different ages, races, and backgrounds were being aggressive and vicious towards her music, and her as a person. It is a catchy song but something about it enraged people and they thought it was okay to say every hurtful thing imaginable. Though Rebecca’s case was super intense and irrational and hundred of thousands of people took their hurtful opinions to the next level, bullying is very much a real thing. Rebecca was just another teenage girl in the world, who wanted to be in the spotlight for a moment. Unfortunately bullying came to her in many forms. From handwritten letters to Facebook posts, bullying can find and affect people who you never thought it would.
I bet some of you are now thinking, “Oh my gosh! I have been bullied.” It’s actually quite probable that you have. Most kids are bullied and don’t know how to handle the situation and they are too scared or embarrassed to tell anyone so they suffer in silence. But there’s hope if you feel like you have or are currently being bullied. Bully prevention is everywhere and something anyone can do to help themselves or a friend who is in that situation. Once, when I was in middle school I was picked on first hand by a girl on my basketball team and made fun of almost every day by her. I didn’t know what to do or how to get help. I wish someone had told me about what I could have done so that I wouldn’t have had the experience that I did. Some steps you can take to find refuge from bullying is to talk to an adult that you trust. Whether it’s a cafeteria lady or your parents, talk to somebody about what is going on and they will be able to help you get out of that situation in a nonviolent way.
Counselors are also another adult that you can trust in and they are trained to handle situations like bullying in a caring and quiet way. You just need to reach out to them because they don’t know the problems and thoughts all the kids of the school are dealing with. If you find yourself not being able to find an adult to confide in about your problems, you could calmly confront the bully and talk to them about why they are treating you the way that they are. You never know why people do what they do until you get to know them on a personal level. Communication is key when it comes to resolving problems with bullying. You just need a little courage and some guts to get you going in the right direction. Speaking of courage, maybe you’re one of the kids that think they’re tough enough to make fun of kids and get away with it, all while having your friends back you up, laughing at every joke.
Little do you know, that the girl who cried when she dropped her binder in the hallway, the boy who has a perfect bowl cut, and the kid who always wears the same ripped blue jeans, are listening to every snicker, joke, and comment you make about them behind their back. They suffer in silence and are too scared to say anything to your empty threats but the anger and fear continue to bottle up inside them. An example of a serious case of bullying comes from West Paducah, Kentucky in 1997. Michael Carneal, was a freshman in high school when he got picked on for being so small and quiet. One day, he was so fed up with the kids who constantly harassed him that he took matters into his own hands. He killed the three classmates who bullied him and was sentenced to prison (Roche and Bower).
He told the psychiatrist that he met with while in prison that, “He felt going to prison would be better than continuing to endure the bullying in school” (Roche and Bower). Michael is just another kid who was a victim to bullying. Unfortunately, he handled the situation in the wrong way and ended up jail, but bullying is a real thing and can have harmful and even fatal consequences. It’s important to think about the long term repercussions of your actions when you bully someone. What goes around will eventually come back around. Even if you think that nothing bad will ever happen to you it’s important to treat others kindly as you would like to be treated and avoid degrading people’s self worth. Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top.
The solution to stop bullying is simple, yet so hard to do. One person can make all the difference and the next time you witness someone being bullied or one of your friends is being a bully to someone else, stand up for what’s right and say something to them. Believe it or not, kids have more influence on their peers than adults do. Your example can change people in ways that you never thought were possible. Have some empathy in your life and put yourself in another’s shoes. You don’t know what battle that girl you laughed at earlier is fighting right now in her life, so it’s important to be kind and empathetic to everyone who crosses your path. Be the change that you want to see in the world. The end of bullying begins with you.
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