It’s Time to Focus on Bullying


Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program, which is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Bullying. Why is it treated as a tragedy only when it results in death? Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But it seems like that’s what it takes for people to open their eyes to the consequences of bullying. We should stay on top of this issue even when it doesn’t result in suicide. We shouldn’t let it fade away and only come back when someone commits suicide – saying “now it’s a big issue.” Wrong! It’s a big issue when the kid is feeling alone. it’s a big issue when the kid fears coming to school because of bullying and it is a big issue when the thought of suicide crosses a child’s mind.

Bullying caused one of this nation’s greatest tragedies: The shooting at Columbine High School reportedly happened because the two shooters were bullied. The shooters said they had been bullied for four years of their life. They were called names, pushed around and isolated. They couldn’t take it anymore.
There are basically three forms of bullying: the physical act including hitting, kicking and pushing; verbal bullying, meaning using words to tear people down. And then there is cyber-bullying – picking on people via the internet.
I interviewed several Robeson students about their experiences with bullying. Reginald L. Jenkins, 15, said he was bulled in third grade. He said he has bullied people himself too. “I don’t really know why,” he said. He feels that bullying is “awful.” “People who bully people should be arrested,” he said.
Jamie Nichols, 15, has also been bullied and also bullied someone else – because he wanted to impress a girl in fifth grade. He’s changed since then and he’s more quiet now, he said. He “changed because what goes around comes around….You’re going to get what you dish out.”
“If you bully someone it could happen to you,” Nichols added.
I also interviewed journalism instructor Kari Lydersen, 37. She doesn’t think she was ever bullied and she said people were less aware of bullying when she was a kid. She said she did bully someone once because she wanted to impress other girls. It made her more aware of how people feel and how words can be hurtful. She said she thinks bullying is a really serious problem than can cause life-long effects for people and should be taken more seriously. “It’s good teachers and students are becoming more aware of bullying and treating it as a serious problem,” she said.
Lauren Berry, 24, a City Year staffer at Robeson, said she got bullied in school and she also was a bully sometimes. She said it made her feel self-conscious about the way she looked and the way she dressed. She said she didn’t see herself as really bullying, but joining in when kids were teasing another kid.
“I see bullying going on every single day at Robeson,” Berry said. “Sometimes it’s physical but more often it’s verbal. I think that it is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.”
Why is it that when someone gets bullied their cries for help go unheard? But when that person is on his last leg, ready to end it and does, then it is a tragedy? Where was everyone when the person was alone and needed a hand? In my personal opinion, it makes me sick when people only pay attention to someone when they commit suicide. We should be there before the fact, not after.
I myself was bullied from sixth grade through the first half of ninth grade. I suffered jokes about my weight and how ugly people said I was. I survived it and I think overall it made me a better person, a bit more down to earth and an all-around good guy. But I feel as if bullying should stop! And it’s going to take everyone to make that happen.
About 280,000 students are physically attacked in secondary school each month, according to an anti-bullying website maintained by the law firm Buckner & Buckner. On average, 30 percent of kids get bullied. More than 1,000 kids get bullied each year and end up committing suicide, according to Canadian Amanda Michelle Todd was 15 and she committed suicide because she was being bullied every day.
It’s sad that she thought she had to do this just to get peace. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide and almost seven percent have attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I want to eradicate bullying from the face of the earth. I get frustrated by those who are bullies and by those who excuse bullying by saying “boys will be boys,” or “girls will be girls” or “kids will be kids.”

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