The Seriousness of the Issue of Bullying in Society

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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, the streaming network service Netflix should ring a bell; One of Netflix most recent popular shows is called “Thirteen Reason Why.” The series revolves around seventeen-year-old high school student, Clay Jensen, and his deceased friend Hannah Baker, who has killed herself after having to face endless gossip and sexual assault at her high school and a lack of support from her friends and her school. As a result of Hannah baker's death the school and community began to shine more light on bullying and what it can do to a person's well being. However, you may ask yourself why did the tragic death of this young lady cause more people to take action. Bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school individuals that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time…”(“wikipedia”, para. 1). Bullying is portrayed in several forms, has been commonly misconceived, and results in many negative effects; these effects can be prevented by standing up to bullies and supporting voiceless victims that are consistently being harassed. To get a deeper understanding of bullying and its impacts one must take in consideration these factors. According to The National Center For Educational Statistics “more than one out of every five (20.8%) of students report being bullied” (as cited in VeryWell Family, 2006. Para. 4).

Although, bullying in any form is defined as harmful or mean behavior; bullying can be portrayed in several different acts. It's important to learn the different forms of bullying and how to identify them. The first and most common form of bullying within today's society is called Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is “bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets”(“wikipedia”. Para.1). This is the form most common among youth because of the use of social media. Cyberbullying is “very different to traditional bullying. Relationships between victims and perpetrators do not need to be physically close”(John,2018). The dangers of Cyberbullying is the freedom for anyone to bully while staying completely anonymous to their victim. To identify cyberbullying it’s important to know how these bullies target their victims. Through the use of fake accounts and, with the protection of being able to hide behind a computer screen it allows anyone to pretend to be someone else with the intentions of never getting caught. Many of these cyberbullies are referred to as internet trolls. The name comes from them randomly roaming around the internet and trolling people pages, leaving nasty comments, are making hurtful memes. According to Garden, Shem “Cyberbullies target victims through both overt and covert means. Overt forms include mocking, shaming, name-calling and threatening victims; convert forms include isolating or excluding victims from joining or participating in online groups, chats, and games”(para.5).

Another form of bullying is referred to as direct and indirect bullying also known as physical and verbal bullying. Physical or direct bullying is the most violent form of bullying because it require physical interaction. However this makes it easier to notice because the victim is being attacked directly by the bully, and is most common among school students. Unfortunately as a result its what people think of when they think of bullying, which allows it to receive more attention then the more subtle forms of bullying. Direct bullying “usually involves hitting, kicking, or making insults, offensive and sneering comments, or threats”(Garden,2018). Physical bullies tend to be more stronger, bigger, and more aggressive than their peers. On the other hand verbal or indirect bullying is when someone uses verbal languages such as (insults, teasing, ect) to put others down or hurt their feeling. Name calling has been around for what seems like forever, the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ may come to mind. However if the name calling become persistent and regular then this is bullying, also known as verbal abuse because for someone on the receiving end of this, it can often cause devastating consequences. Verbal bullying “should not be treated as kids simply being kids and should be dealt with seriously...Verbal bullying can be very damaging and may have long term psychological effects”(“Best strong Global”, n.d). Verbal bullying is not as obvious to identify mainly because the effects are invisible. It usual happens when adults are not around, due to the fact that many kids will watch some things that they say when a teacher, or parent is around.

In contrast to physical and verbal, sexual bullying also known as sexual harassment have many similarities. Sexual bullying consists of “repeated, harmful, and humiliating actions that target a person sexually”(verywell family, 2006, para. 8). For example nasty comments, vulgar gestures, sexual name-calling, pornographic materials, and uninvited touching. This form of bullying is usually made from nasty and/or crude comments about a person's attractiveness, sexual development, sexual activity, and appearance. Sexual bullying is more common among high school students. Girls are often the targets of sexual bullying, however both girls and boys and experience sexual bullying. The goal of many sexual bullies is to damage a person's respiration. This usually starts by made-up rumours of a students sexual activity with other members at school. For instance in the movie ‘thirteen reason why’, Hannah goes out on a date with her crush Justin. During this date Justin takes a picture of Hannah going down a park slide and mistakenly catch a glance of Hannah's underwear. Justin being a guy shows the photo to his best friend who intensely sends Hannah picture to the rest of the school. As result other students started calling her names like “slut” or “tramp”. This type of sexual bullying is also called slut-shaming. Slut -shaming is a “form of sexual bullying that humiliate, degrade, and ridicule a person for the way they look, the way they dress and their presumed level of sexual activity...In extreme cases, sexual bullying opens the door to sexual assault”(“Geek Feminism”, n.d). According to a study conducted by the American Association Of University Women “slut-shaming is one of the most common forms of sexual harassment”(as cited in Ditch the label, 2017, para, 3) The study showed that a third of all students experienced having someone make unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures about them (“Ditch the label”, 2017). A perfect example of slut-shaming is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Hester wore the letter “A” on her chest for the world to see. It was a way for the community to shame her for her adultery. In today's society this shame is usually done on social media and also in many school hallways. Many bullies will go as far as writing nasty comments about someone inside bathroom stalls. Some will even print out explits photos and put them on all the school walls to farther shame the victim.

Bullying doesn’t always end with high school. Some lunchroom bullies grow up to become office bullies. This form of bullying is called workplace bullying; workplace bullying is mistreatment in the workplace that causes physical or emotional harm. This form is commonly overlooked and is not taken as serious as the others. These type of bullies uses the power of authority as a way to justify their actions. It can include “verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of workplace aggression is particularly difficult because, unlike the typical school bully, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society”(Garden,2018). Workplace bullying can be identified as overbearing supervision, constant criticism, and blocking promotions. However bullies in the workplace can also be peers, and other co-workers. When a co-workers is constantly trying to get you in trouble or fired, even goes as far as telling lies about you to the manager just to make you look bad can also be bullying in the workplace.

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Beside the different types of bullying it is important to learn the most common misconceptions of bullying. The saying “kids are going to be kids” is why so many children that are being bullied never get the help they need. Bullying has become apart of the norm and is portrayed in many books, movies, and stories as apart of life’s natural school experience. Many parents sees being bullied in school as a way for their child to become stronger by standing up for themselves and fighting back. However as this may be the case for some victims the results of bullying can reverse severally. On the contrary, it can tear down the victim's character and increase the targets vulnerabilities. Being bullied can cause kids to feel lonely and isolated. According to Author Sherri, Gordon “51% of people will experience bullying at some point in their lives. Where you’re more likely to experience bullying when you’re younger, it’s not an inevitable thing”(“Misconceptions About Bullying”. Para 6). Despite the statistic above, not everyone goes through bullying when they’re young. Some people experience it later in life. It is not uncommon for older people to experience severe bullying. Some people will never have to deal with it at all. Saying that “Bullying is part of growing up” makes it seem like it’s ok. When in reality bullying is never ok.

Which leads us to the next and most common misconceptions of bullying. The most common misconception of bullying is the age range in which bullying takes place. Many may believe that children, partially school age children are the only victims of bullying. This is because many adults are not willing to admit to being bullied and/or will hide their hurt as a result adult bullying is widely overlooked. A survey conducted by Harris poll of The American Osteopathic Association found that “adults are being bullied at levels similar to adolescents, and the health consequences may be reducing Americans’ ability to function”(32). The survey found that 31 percent of Americans have been bullied as an adult. Bullying has no age limit and should be treated the same for every age group.(Poll, 32).

It's also very important to understand what makes a person bully others. Many people believe that people only bully because they are hateful or that all bullies are bad people. In some cases many bullies are people who are struggling to deal with unresolved issues, for example, problems at home can lead to person bullying others to relieve stress. No one is born bad, bullying is a learnt behaviour and is completely reversible. Some even grow up to regret their actions. The way someone views themself and their own insecurities, can reflect the way they treat others. On the other hand research shows that “not all bullies pick on others because they feel bad about themselves. Instead, some of the most aggressive kids are also confident and socially successful. They have realized that bullying helps them gain more attention, have a wider social circle and maintain power at school”(Valle, 2018). In fact, the rewards kids get from gossiping, spreading rumors and humiliating others can be significant. For this reason, it is extremely difficult to get bullies to stop.

Bullying in any form have very damaging effects that can affect everyone, even those who bully others. Some of those effect are “depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy”(Nierenberg, 2015). Victim began to isolate themselves resulting in becoming antisocial and uncomfortable in crowds. This can result in many school students to miss and/or skip classes, to avoid coming into contact with their bully. Some even go as far as dropping out of school completely. Many may even turn to self harm to relieve their stress and pain. Cutting is one of the most common ways victims cope with depression. Cutting is a “form of self-injury the person is literally making small cuts on his or her body, usually the arms and legs. It's difficult for many people to understand. But for kids, cutting helps them control their emotional pain, psychologists say”(Davis, para 3). In many extreme cases bullying can lead to suicide, According to Bullying statistics, at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying suicide, and is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. “Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University”(as cited in Bullying statistics, n.d ).

Bullying not only put victims in danger but also endangers others around them. Aside from self harm many victims will go as far as harming others. School shooting has become the biggest impact of bullying. While there is no widely accepted profile of a school shooter “a growing number of experts say there is a clear link between bullying experiences and the very small minority of students who rise to the level of a school shooter...The victims of bullying are even more likely to suffer negative effects than their tormentors including the very smallest percentage of children who become school shooters”(Scicchitano, 2018). Public shooting is a result from victims taking their anger out on the world around them. On the other hand, bullying also can an have a big impact on adolescent development. A new study finds that “children who were bullied frequently when they were 8 years old were more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder that needed treatment as an adult, compared with kids who were not bullied” (Nierenberg, 2015). Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Examples are abuse alcohol and other drugs, Get into fights, vandalize property, have criminal convictions, and be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children.

So what are some of the ways to prevent and support victims of bullying? Well first by placing Support groups and anti-bullying programs in schools will allow children to feel safe; by building a safe school environment, and help victim know they are not alone. Also by increasing parental advisory on social media for sites like facebook and twitter. Parents should reduce and/or block their child's use of these sites to prevent cyberbullying. “These websites allow kids to send hurtful, ongoing messages to other children 24 hours a day. Some sites, such as Tumblr and Formspring allow messages to be left anonymously”(Pitts, Smith. pg.84). But most importantly by teaching kids how to identify bullying and how to stand up to it safely. This can be achieved by being more knowledgeable and observant. According to Sarah Kelly “teachers and administrators should emphasize that telling is not tattling. If a teacher observes bullying in a classroom, he/she needs to immediately intervene to stop it, record the incident and inform the appropriate school administrators so the incident can be investigated”(para.1). No one should have to indore nor witness bullying, standing up and taking action is the first steps to stopping bullying. To prevent bullying the government should employ more laws that punish those responsible for victims to consider self harm or that harm others. This will create a community-wide bullying prevention strategy, and also can decrease the acts of bullying by many.

In conclusion, bullying is a complex issue that has become a serious problem in our society. To stop bullying it is important to recognize the different forms. Also by understanding the lack of importance and misconceptions that have develop over time. The world needs to see the negative effects bullying has had on the world, and together employ ways to prevent bullying and make it a thing of the past. Bullying can and does have a profound and deep impact on our society; Many that are bullied commit suicide, the ones that doesn't have a altered view of the world. Preventing and stopping bullying involves a commitment to creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid. The American Psychological Association recommends that teachers, parents and students take the following actions to address bullying. Together we can change can make a different and being back peace within humanity.

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