Stupid, retard, freak, fat, gay; these are the words that the average bully uses to make his or her victim feel weak and alone. All over America, kids are being bullied at schools, sometimes to death. But with the use of technology we now, not knowingly carry the bullying home with us, in our back pockets. Dealing with bullying in school is one thing, with all the schoolwork, sports, and simply just trying to fit in. Now imagine not being able to escape cruelty, not being able to just live your life, without being criticized every step of the way. With cell phones and social media, experts say bullying and cyber bullying are at a new skyrocketing high. People can send hurtful messages, or create hateful pages towards you or your friends, so what can you do to stop it?
For some people not being able to catch a break drives them to do the only thing they feel that they can do, take their own lives.“Fat. Gay. Or just different from the crowd. These are the reasons children are being bullied — sometimes to death — in America’s schools, with at least 14 students committing suicide in the past year alone. Intensified by the inescapable reach of the Internet, bullying has spun out of control.” ABC News anchor Chris Cuomo reached out to “shattered” families, who explained their stories and demanded answers as to why more wasn’t done to save their children. One story in particular of a 17-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome stood out from the rest“On October 17th, 2009, 17-year-old Tyler Long had had enough. After years of alleged bullying at the hands of classmates in his Murray County, Georgia school system, Tyler had gone from a fun-loving child to what his parents say was just a shell of the boy they once knew.”They took his pride from him,” said his heartbroken dad, David Long. “He was a hollow person.” Many students across America feel the same way, empty, worthless as if they have no will to live anymore. Because of Tyler’s syndrome, his parents were more involved in his life than the average teen’s, so the bullying was brought to Mr. and Mrs. Long’s attention almost immediately, but the response they got from the school district was mind-boggling, “Boys will be boys’,” was the response Long said he got from school officials. “‘How can I stop every kid from saying things that shouldn’t be said? What do you want me to do Mr. and Mrs. Long? I’ve done all I can.” Believe it or not, this disgusting response is typical for schools. So are school districts doing everything in their power? Despite the reactions of some schools, others have taken a leap into preventing bullying. for example, Smithtown has adopted the Challenge Day Program.
Going through a breakup is something particularly hard to do, but for Nikki Mattocks, it was traumatic, “Rather than the clean break she had hoped for, she found herself being bombarded with hateful messages on social media from her ex-boyfriend’s friends. One even urged her to kill herself.” It had to be hard enough to pass Nikki’s ex-boyfriend in the school hallways every day, let alone his friends sending her hateful messages, every hour of every day.”The messages made me so depressed and led to me taking an overdose,” says Nikki, Just one of the millions around the world struggling with cyber bullying. Bullying is often overlooked by adults and is even considered a “right of passage” to some. If our society believes that it is normal to feel worthless and alone, then ask yourself is that the type of world you want your children to grow up in? Or your grand kids? What about you, do you want to feel that way? A majority of these hurtful messages and comments are being made through big companies such as, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Instagram says that” actively identifying and removing this material is a crucial measure as many victims of bullying do not report it themselves” Even with these steps being taken bullies are still able to send direct hurtful messages, as well as create anonymous “hate pages” directed towards their victims. So is enough being done?
Not only is it easier to be a target of bullying online, but it is easier to be a bully yourself, Kathryn C. Seigfried-Spellar, an associate professor in Purdue University’s Department of Computer & Information Technology, said students are less affected by the harshness of their comments because of the safe protection of being behind a screen,” It’s easier to do something because you don’t have to worry about a physical repercussion,” she states. “It removes that personal experience.” We get to be whomever we want to be on social media, and we get to say whatever we want to say, unfortunately, some people see this as an opportunity to pick on a classmate, or maybe someone they have never even met before. Consider this, if we could say whatever we want to whoever we want without having to worry about their reaction, everyone would have something to say, whether it’s to a past teacher, a coworker, their boss, maybe even their friends. It’s a strange thought right? That’s exactly what social media is enabling us to do. Even though some may say bullying gives you “thicker skin” research states,” Bullying can lead to emotional distress, self-harm and has led to suicide. It can also put a young person at higher risk for depression, anxiety and lower academic achievement,” stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider all the lives that could have been saved if people weren’t comfortable saying whatever they wanted behind a computer or cellphone screen. In 2017, a 12-year-old in New Jersey killed herself after her family said she was taunted on Instagram and Snapchat, along with being bullied in school. The same year, a ten-year-old girl from Aurora, Colorado, died by suicide after her family said a video of a schoolyard fight between her and another student was posted online and she was bullied for it.
One solution to these problems is to not only install a filter on all technology, to prevent hurtful words from being said but to educate our younger generations, about why it is so important to always be kind. Yes, you may have only said one thing to a person, but you don’t know what their home life is like, or that your one comment wouldn’t be the boiling point for them, and they decide to take their own lives. We need to make sure that our society hears the stories of those, who did commit suicide due to bullying, and they need to understand just because you don’t have to see someone’s physical reaction does not mean you should send that hurtful messages or create that “hate page”. We need to inform kids that even if someone was mean to you, you don’t have to sink to their level and be mean back, even though it may feel good to you, it won’t to the other person who is reading that message, or hearing the awful things you say about them. To conclude our society needs a major reality check. We must learn that we are all human, we’re not perfect, we may be different from the crowd but should that mean we deserve to be punished for it?