***Note: The comments used in this blog may not all be exact; some time has past between them. I have done my best to recreate the statement as it was said.***
Bullying continues to exist as a major problem in many schools throughout the United States. I have never personally been bullied, but have partaken in acts of bullying (especially when I was in elementary school…gosh I was a real bitch then) and have stood by as a guilty bystander, watching others be talked down to or discriminated against.
Notwithstanding how atrocious bullying is, I have discovered an occurrence that, in my opinion, is worse.
Attitudes about bullying.
You would think people would understand how wrong bullying is, and how we should do everything within our power, especially in schools, to dispose of bullying. But even those in high school who have undergone anti-bullying programs and campaigns for over a decade still retain a stance which lessens the severity of bullying.
On the Day of Silence, during which high school students across America vow not to speak in honor of all those who have been too afraid to stand up for themselves and to raise awareness against bullying, I was appalled to hear a peer’s critique of the Day of Silence:
“Those who have been bullied have had chances to tell someone they are being bullied.”
First, those who are bullied usually aren’t the most extroverted individuals; they are usually introverted people who will experience difficulty trying to tell a trusted adult or peer they are being bullied. Second, this individual failed to recognize how bullying affects one’s mental health. When someone tells another person they are ugly or fat or worthless, many people will just shrug it off because they have the self-confidence to disregard the comment. However, those with low self esteem are prone to taking such comments to heart, to the point where these individuals truly believe what their bullies are saying about them. Ostracization is also detrimental to one’s mental health, and can cause loneliness, depression or (social) anxiety. Even if one musters the courage to report bullying, negative remarks can haunt someone.
Sorry we’re all not as extroverted and self-confident as you.
Flash forward to present day. My calculus teacher enjoys embarking on tangents, and today he began speaking about how technology makes life more complicated; for example, it renders cyber-bullying much easier. This was a fellow student’s response:
“I don’t get cyber-bullying. If you’re being bullied online, just turn your computer off.”
Oh okay. That’s pretty simple. Because I’m the victim, let me change my lifestyle so I do not get picked on. Because I’m the victim, I’ll just have to remove myself from activities I enjoy, like going on social media websites, so I do not get bullied. As a victim, why can’t you just remove yourself from any place you would be bullied?
But why should you have the deal with it in the first place?
The worst part about these comments is they suggest bullying is not as heinous as it truly is. The first comment essentially states “Oh, if you were bullied you should have done A and B and solved your own problem”. The second relates the victim should simply avoid places where they would be bullied, which is ridiculous, because everyone should be able to enjoy life without being bullied. Furthermore, this comment suggests cyber-bullying is the victim’s fault. Bullying is the bully’s fault, not the victim’s.
I understand these comments reflect an attitude that believes victims of bullying can and should take the necessary steps to stand up for themselves, address the situation, and reach a solution. But they seem to miss the point that bullying is traumatic and thoroughly wrong.
No one, and I mean absolutely no one, should be bullied.