Adults need to take action to stop school bullying and resultant deaths

Amber Boswell, Staff Columnist

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There is a childish rebuttal used when people discuss the bullying epidemic: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” In some instances, this rebuttal is deceptive; bullying has become a serious matter over the years. Adolescents are committing suicide as a result of being bullied by their peers. It is up to each individual to point out this issue.

It is important to understand the definition of bullying. According to the English Oxford Dictionary, “a bully’s goal is to intimidate someone perceived as vulnerable.” Bullying can affect anyone. According to the Scholastic Parents Staff, “bullying behavior cuts across socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and cultural lines.” Moreover, approximately “20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either perpetrators or victims.”

As a result of their treatment, victims of bullying can experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and changes in eating and sleeping patterns. These effects often times follow these individuals into their adulthood. It is crucial that adults and parents intervene as soon as they notice a change in a child. When adults respond quickly to bullying incidents, they can send a message to the youth that bullying is not acceptable.

Often people are slow to react when they hear anything about a child getting bullied. This is one of society’s downfalls when it comes to speaking out against something that is a recurring issue in society. Everyone, not just parents and adults, should speak out when they witness or hear anything about a child being bullied.

In addition to being emotionally abused, victims sometimes experience physical abuse from bullies.

Children are literally bullied to death each year. Imagine being a parent coming home from work and walking into your child’s bedroom to ask them how their day was at school, but instead, all you see is your child hanging from their closet door by a belt. Many parents have actually come home to discover their child’s dead body. For example, Tyler Long was a gay student with Asperger’s syndrome. He was often teased because of his sexuality and condition. Students would steal from him, call him names and spit in his cafeteria food. Long’s mother went to the school to inform them about what was going on, but they did nothing. The school responded by telling his mother, “boys will be boys” or “he just took it the wrong way.” The silence of the school negatively impacted Long. One morning, he changed into his favorite jeans, strapped a belt around his neck and hanged himself from the top shelf of his bedroom closet. He died at the young age of 17.

What can we do to put an end to bullying? It is crucial that people learn how to identify bullying and how to stand up to it in the safest way possible. People should have an understanding of how bullying can negatively impact one’s life. When people have a better understanding of what bullying is, then they can work to speak out against this issue. Many bullies fail to realize words can cut deeper than any knife. A knife can be pulled out, but words are forever embedded into one’s soul.

Bullying is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously. Many people are gone too soon over an issue that could have been prevented. The silence of our friends is worse than the actual bullying itself. If you do not speak out against wrongdoing, then you are equally at fault. It is important for people to set an example for those who do not have a voice of their own. We can all work together to help make the world a better place for everyone.