Bullying has become a large burden on adolescents across the nation. Bullying comes in two main forms, cyberbullying and physical/verbal bullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that is done online through social media, and physical/verbal is done in person. Bullying can happen anywhere at any time. With the growing amount of technology that is spreading to young school children, the amount of cyberbullying is increasing rapidly. Bullying should never be taken lightly; it is a serious issue that affects almost everyone at some point in a person’s life. One in four students have been a victim of bullying or reported bullying that they witnessed. Bullying can cause mental health issues, affects a child later in their lives, and can cause shootings in schools.
Bullying, by definition, is the abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger or more powerful. When I was in middle school, I was cyberbullied through text messages, called mean names, and gossiped about. At that young age, I never understood why kids were being mean to me because I had never done anything wrong to them. The main reason why kids bully is to feel better about themselves and to cover up their own personal flaws. Many bullies were most likely bullied before they became bullies themselves. When I got out of middle school and went into high school, the bullying that I was exposed to decreased; kids in middle school are typically more critical of their peers. The kids that bullied me in middle school ended up going to a different high school than me. There are significant differences between the two genders when it comes to bullying. Girls typically are verbal when they bully and boys are more physical. Girls are more prone to spreading gossip and rumors, so they are more likely to cyberbully. This may in the form of a comment on an Instagram post or a text message. Boys normally aren’t as violent as to when they grow older.
Bullying has many negative effects. When kids are bullied, they may experience changes in sleep and eating, mental illness such as depression, and low attendance in school (“Effects of Bullying.”). Children may not eat as much or they may not sleep as much. Due to the feeling of loneliness and exclusion, many students develop mental illness that can affect their human development. Sometimes, the bullying gets serious for students that they stop showing up to school; as a result, their test scores and grades tank. These problems can affect their futures greatly.
Many of the effects of bullying in middle school and high school can still be felt at a college student at a university. Characteristics that many college kids feel from being bullied earlier in their lives are exclusion, safety, and lonely. Safety is one of the most important things to a young adult in college. Many students only feel safe in their dorm rooms and may be afraid to walk around campus. Students also go to parties and they sometimes feel unaware of where they are and they may feel uneasy and anxious. Exclusion is another word that students may feel. The victims may feel like they are excluded from friend groups. The last main characteristic that they felt was loneliness. Many college students don’t have family with them, which can be hard on them because they may feel like they have no one to talk to about what they are going through as a college student. They can also feel lonely if they don’t have many friends or they don’t fit in to a certain friend group. These very characteristics have been talked about in crucial legal cases (Adams and Lawrence 10).
A new type of bullying has risen this past decade. Cyberbullying has swept across the nation in adolescents. Cyberbullying can be through social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, text messages, and many more. Social media has become a main way for members of society to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions with one another. One main difference between cyberbullying and traditional bullying is that it can happen between strangers. Anyone can post whatever they want without thinking twice about it. A good example of this would be on YouTube. Hundreds and thousands of users can post comments to videos that can be considered cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has been a contributing factor of the increase in suicide rates. Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin are professors in the department of criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. They gave a survey to 2000 school children that asked questions that were related to their school, family, and friends. They concluded that the victims of cyberbullying were two times more likely to attempt suicide than those that were not cyberbullied (Luxton et al. 196). When children are cyberbullied, they report that they feel lonely, hopeless, and abandoned.
Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas are names that you typically hear when school shootings are brought up in the news outlets. They were all three caused by boys who were once bullied at a point in their lives. Out of the school shootings that happened in the 1990s, 12 out of 15 of the perpetrators were once bullied in school (“Effects of Bullying”). Reports have said that they felt isolated, lonely, and were called names. One of the Columbine shooters, Dylan Klebold, said to the students, “I’m going to kill you all. You’ve been giving us shit for years” (Leary et al. 207). As a child is abused, they can become violent later in their lives. School shooters typically turn right to violence to establish a sense of power among their peers. Some of the warning signs that signal that a person is a shooter is the fasciantion of guns, death, and has a psychological disorder. Many of the school shooters were students that previously attended the school where they were bullied. For example, the Stoneman Douglas shooter attended the school a year prior to the shooting.
There has been large progress made in reducing the amount of bullying in schools across the United States. Bullying has been considered a social problem by members of society, so school administrators and parents have taken efforts to implement bullying prevention in schools. Some of the efforts that school administrators can do include creating a safe environment for the students, creating “cybercops”, and providing education for the students (Beale and Hall 11). Teachers and administrators should have classroom atmospheres that make their students feel welcome and comfortable. When there is a good classroom atmosphere that is set, students are able to open up about their ideas, thoughts, and opinions. The second thing that administrators and teachers can do is work together with local law enforcement to set up “cybercops” which are officers who report any cyberbullying that can go on through the many social media outlets. The last thing that they can do is provide the students with education on what bullying is. They can change the school’s curriculum so that anti-bullying lessons are included. There are also things that parents can do to reduce the amount of bullying in schools. They can listen to their children if they are being bullied or not. The goal is to not put their children on trial, but to ask if anyone that they know around them if they are being bullied. Parents should ask if their children have ever received threats of sexual exploitation or physical violence (Beale and Hall 12). There is an “acceptable internet use” policy that parents and students can sign to assure the school administrators that technology is only being used for educational purposes and not to bully their peers online (Beale and Hall 11).
In the past few decades, bullying has become a burden on school children. Bullying has spread to the internet and cell phones in the form of cyberbullying. Efforts made by parents, teachers, and administrators have been successful in lowering the amount of bullying in schools across the country. No child should have to feel as though they have been bullied. As Barack Obama once said, “As a nation, we are founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied” (President Obama).