by Justin Kamimoto
Today, yesterday and the days before yesterday all had a consistent epidemic at hand: bullying is happening and leading to destructive consequences.
Bullying is the leading crisis in schools and communities across the nation where children of various ages are the main victims. Human natures that we cannot control are the main issues when it comes to bullying. The color of our skin, the sexual orientation we identify as, and the gender we were born as are some of the leading stands where bullies feel it is appropriate to harass someone classified as “different” than what they view as normal.
As the world around us started to change, so did the effects of bullying– mainly adding a new category by the new use of technology. The common definition of bullying is an aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength, typically with actions that are repeated over time.
There are four common types of bullying today: physical, verbal, nonverbal or emotional, and cyberbullying. Physical bullying is where one person physically abuses another, examples being hitting and/or punching. Verbal bullying is a vocal form where the use of teasing, name-calling, and slurs are used, common in a high school environment. Nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying is where the use of intimidation by gestures and social exclusion takes place. Lastly, is cyberbullying, the newest form, where insulting messages of a negative connotation are sent by phone, email, social networking sites and any way where the use of technology comes into play.
Who is the bully, though? If anyone can be the bully, how can we stop what we can’t see? Research has shown that children who bully their peers regularly tend to have the following characteristics: impulsiveness, hot-headedness, domineering, easily frustrated, and lack empathy toward others. Sometimes it starts in the home where children who bully live, where there is a lack of warmth and involvement from parents, overly-permissive parenting, a lack of supervision by parents, and a model for bullying behavior in the household. Now before I go on, the characteristics listed above may not apply to the “typical bully,” but it is defined by previous cases of reported bullying.
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama took a stand, not as the president and first lady, but as parents at the Bullying Prevention Conference on March 10, 2011. President Obama stated that parents need to make an effort in kids’ lives in and out of the classroom. Stepping up if you feel something is occuring, is the start to preventing bullying from happening repeatedly, and is important for the safety of our children. Everyone needs to play a role in the prevention of bullying, but it starts with the parents. Pull together groups of people to support you in your cause to make a safer school and a more accepting community. We need to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless right of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.
Stop Bulling Now: Take a Stand, Lend a Hand, is a new program enacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The HRSRA gives steps and tips on how to intervene to stop bullying. If you see or hear bullying immediately stop it from escalating. Stand between the victim being bullied and the bully themselves. Block eye contact of both the bully and the victim and bring bystanders in to make sure no further action is taken. If you are a student in school and bullying is happening, control the situation until a school administrator or adult is around. Do not immediately ask about or discuss the reasons for the bullying or sort out the facts. Allow an adult to handle the situation. Including bystanders in the conversation of bullying is a great way to get other students to step up and intervene and provide help in the next occurrence.
Parents, ask your children about their days at school. Taking “nothing, it was okay” as an answer should not be accepted. Learn the lives of your children to protect them. Ensure that if bullying is happening at school, that the zero tolerance policies are being enacted for the protection of your child. If your child is being bullied, report it. Most cases have shown that students do not report bullying out of fear for their safety.
Here are some statistics today about bullying:
• 1/3 of middle and high school students report being bullied during the school year
• 3 million students have admitted to being pushed, shoved, and even spit on
• 15-20% of students are bullied with some frequency while 15-20% report that they bully others
• Incidents of bullying behaviors have increased by 5% between 1999 and 2001
• Research indicates that children with disabilities or special needs may be at higher risk of being bullied than other children
• 8 in 10 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered (LGBT) students have been verbally harassed at school while 4 in 10 LGBT students had been physically harassed
• 6 out of 10 LGBT students felt unsafe at school, where 1 in 5 had been a victim of a physical assault at school
In a recent documentary Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History, Jamie Nabozny is an LGBT student who received constant physical and verbal bullying to the point where his life was being threatened. This documentary had no made up scenarios, and it is shocking to see that school administrators denied the cases of bullying taking place in the high school that Jamie attended because he was an “out” LGBT student. Jamie’s mom remarks that, “As a parent my job is to protect [Jamie] and keep him safe. Boys will be boys is not a tolerable excuse for bullying.”
Bullying usually starts with a small incident of words being thrown at a student; words such as slurs are mainly used. In Jamie’s case words such as “homo” and “fag” were the two main forms of harassment because he identified as part of the LGBT community.
When you let someone bully you, and don’t make the effort to stop it, it tends to slowly escalate- escalate to physically abusive bullying that should not be tolerated by anyone. You have the right to fight back if something is not right; not in a physical term, but by taking appropriate measures of talking to a parent, school administrator and teachers, and gaining the involvement of your community. They are there to help you.
You are not the only one that is being harassed and bullied.Take the necessary steps if you are being bullied, because nobody deserves to be treated unfairly and not have a safe environment to learn in, to live in, and to associate in. You may ask yourself the question “What did I do to deserve this?” but really you did nothing wrong. You are perfect in every way, shape or form. Appreciate the person you are and strive to shine, because you are a star.
Here are some resources you can use to stop the spread of bullying:
StopBullying.Gov is a government enacted website to provide the resources and information needed free of charge and open to the public. If you, or someone you know, needs someone to talk to, call The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline, at any time of day. A live help representative will be there to take your call and to listen. Let’s all take a stand to stop bullying—it’s been going on far too long!
Other groups helping take a stand against bullying are Gay Straight Alliance and the Rainbow Delegation. Check out our articles on both of these here in KRL. Cutting Edge Theatre Project also recently presented a play on bullying called The Wretched Void at the Rogue Festival and has plans to expand on that play in the future–you can read our reviews of this play in our Rogue Reviews article. Also watch for more articles on bullying and things we can do to stop it in future articles.