According to medicinenet.com, bullying is defined as physical or verbal aggression that is repeated over a period of time and usually involves an imbalance of power. 28 percent of young people all over the world from middle school to high school have been a victim of bullying. This goes to prove that bullying is not something to play around with.
One of the most prevalent issues in today’s day and age is bullying. While this has always been a problem in school buildings and even outside of school, recent statistics have shown that bullies are finding more and more ways to target their victims. This is mainly due to the rise of social media and technology.
Some of the major platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat make it so easy for bullies to pick on people. Part of this is because it is much more facile to say or do something harmful to someone from behind a screen, than to actually do the action to their face.
Bullying comes in plenty of forms such as discrimination, segregation, racism, sexism, misogyny, body shaming and general prejudice.
Many believe that bullying occurs because individuals feel that they are better than others, and that the only way to be better is to put others down just to bring themselves up.
Others believe that bullying occurs because individuals feel the exact opposite; they feel that they are not good enough and that in order to feel better about themselves they need to put others down.
For some victims, bullying is not a major issue in their life. They are able to shake it off and keep a positive mentality. These make the worst victims for potential bullies.
Bullies feed off of people who give them attention. By reacting to the physical and verbal aggression, the victims are in turn feeding the bullies loads of attention.
For other victims, bullying might not be the easiest thing in their life to overcome. These victims are usually easy to target because of other factors such as sexual orientation, race, religion and gender identification.
Fairmont resource officer, Edward Drayton deals with victims of bullying every single day. He said that most bullying stems from a poor home life. Kids feel that since they can’t control their situation at home, they come to school and take out all their frustrations on the victims.
As far as cyberbullying goes, he feels that it has an even bigger effect than it did in previous years. When someone is being bullied online, it never truly stops. They can pick on you and target you from their own home all behind a device.
“Back then, home was safe,” Drayton said. “The bullies couldn’t follow you home then, but now they can constantly call you names and pick on you.”
A Fairmont junior who would like to remain anonymous has first hand experience with this kind of bullying. An incident on January 12, 2017 concerning a few altered bathrooms in the school that were oriented towards a higher level of privacy was misinterpreted by many students as the school’s attempt at making transgender bathrooms.
However this was not the case, as the school was just using this as an opportunity to increase the privacy of students using the bathroom. The incident caused much controversy over Twitter which in turn led to a string of transphobic comments aimed at the Fairmont junior.
Between cyberbullying and actual physical bullying, it is evident that bullying is a serious problem with today’s youth.
Fairmont high school counselor, Matt Kesner thinks that people bully due to a certain level of detachment between the bully and the victim. He thinks that some kids actually don’t mean to say something hurtful and that they don’t even realize what it was until after the fact. This is due to kids not seeing the immediate consequences of their actions, especially when the bullying is being done online.
“People can post something from a fake alias on a device and not even realize the impact it has on someone’s life because they can’t see the reaction on their face,” Kesner said.
Aside from bullying and the many other problems teenagers deal with, suicide is among the top contributors of the high teen mortality rate. According to Youth Suicide Statistics, everyday in our nation there is an average of 3,470 attempts at suicide from kids in grades 9-12.
Drayton thinks that depression and silent suffering combined with issues going on at school and home in addition to the bullying is what really drives kids over the edge.
“It drives kids into a dark place where they feel like they are backed into a corner and they can’t escape,” Drayton said.
Kesner thinks that one of the main reasons teens commit suicide is because they truly feel as if they have nobody. These kids are often ostracized from their friend group in their time of need. No matter how lonely one feels, they always have somebody, at least one person out there.
“It isn’t always the kid who is sitting alone at the lunch table who needs the most help, more often it’s the kid who is towards the outside of the friend group,” Kesner said.
A good deal of the bullying that occurs online can actually be diverted back at the bully with the help on bystanders. A bystander is defined as any person who witnesses the act of bullying without being the actual victim of said bullying. Being a bystander is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you report the bully and make sure the victim is okay.
Kesner said that one thing we as a community can do to reduce the effects of bullying and the rate of teen suicide is to get out of our comfort zone. This means going a little bit out of your way to reach out to kids who are floating around the outside of their friend group.
Drayton said that one of the best ways to help and assist with people that you suspect are victims of bullying or are contemplating suicide is to not blow it off. If you are constantly being a friend to someone then that means that they constantly have a friend and that they aren’t alone.
“Everyone needs someone to talk to,” Drayton said. “Always go out of your way to make sure they are okay.”
If you know someone who is being bullied, the best thing you can do in this situation is simply be there for them. Listen, support and show them that you are their friend and ally in this situation. You should definitely consider going to the counselors office with them to get more professional help.
Counselors are trained to deal with bullying and kids who feel like they are out of options. Seeking out help is the best option if you suspect you or someone you know needs assistance.
“The counselor’s office is a safe place for all,” Kesner said. “If you are helping out a friend, you don’t necessarily have to have all of the answers or even fix the problem permanently for them.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255