None of us live in a vacuum. We all yearn for positive interaction with other people. During our formidable years we need acceptance by our peers perhaps more than at any time.
Bullying is one of those things that crosses all ethnic, age and gender lines. Statistics vary, but the incidence of male versus female bullying is not all that starkly different. Although boys seem to bully more than girls, girls appear to be catching up. What may be the most startling, though, is that 60% of girls who were bullied reported that it was a male who was bullying.
Social networking is a phenomenon that did not exist when I went to school. So, if you were bullied, it took a fairly long time before everyone new. Now, the victim of “cyber-bullying” can be immediately further tortured in real time, by untold numbers of their peers.
Imagine receiving text messages, Facebook posts, and tweets a dozen, two dozen,, three dozen a day that bully you in one or another. “You are worthless”; “no one likes you”; “get out of our school”; “you are a complete waste” and many, much worse. Then add to it that rather than a handful of people seeing those statements, it is hundreds or thousands that see them. People you thought to be your friends can no longer afford to be your friend if they are to avoid the cross hairs of those doing the bullying.
When I went to school, if you played team sports, the possibility of getting a “pink belly” by team members was a virtual rite of passage. Likewise, some aggressive act involving the topical pain medication “Heat” was bound to happen.
If you were different, you were probably going to be picked on, pushed around on the playground or ostracized.
Did any of the bullying, either giving or receiving, build character; make me a better person; make the bully a better person; or help to develop skills that would allow us to get along in adulthood?
No, no, no and NO. There was nothing valuable in the experience, nothing enjoyable and certainly nothing to learn from the experience. But teachers, parents and others told us it would.
Today’s bullying, though, has taken on a whole new dimension. No longer do kids have to worry about getting shoved in the locker. They have to worry about being shoved in the locker and a photo of the event being posted on various social media sites for millions to see. Kids have to face the many tweets, posts and texts about how lame they are and how stupid they looked.
How big is the problem of bullying in today’s schools? What can students, parents, schools and all of us do to try and limit bullying? What are the causes of bullying in schools – how is a bully formed?
Here is what one school, Cypress Ranch High School, did to get the word out about how its students felt about bullies and it is well worth the watch: