Stopping the growing trends

Shellie Zamponi ‘14
Focus Editor

 
Saying ‘no offense’ does not mean a phrase is not offensive; saying “it was just a joke” does not make it funny; excusing things does not deliver a free pass from guilt. Because once said, it cannot be erased. A cause was provided for an effect and no one can change an effect once it has happened. Once someone is hurt, those feelings cannot be taken back.
Sadly, the only thing new about bullying is the term. This type of mistreatment has been around for centuries. Eighty-three percent of girls and seventy-nine percent of boys have been bullied; of these, 160,000 teens skip school every day and one of every 10 teens will drop out of school due to bullying alone. This. Is. Unnecessary.
There are four main types of bullying, according to NoBullying.com: physical, verbal, covert and cyber. Physical bullying is kicking, pinching, hitting, tripping and pushing or damaging property. Verbal would be considered name-calling, insults, verbal abuse, intimidation, and homophobic or racist remarks. Covert bullying is considered the hardest to detect since it is done behind the victim’s back. This type is the spread of rumors or lies, actions done to humiliate, and encouraging others to exclude someone. Technically, cyberbullying would fall under covert bullying; however, it has become so common in the past few years that some have separated it into its own group. The actions of cyberbullying would be setting up a defamatory personal website, purposely excluding someone from social networking sites or harassment through technology such as phones and computers.
There are a few reasons people bully. Ann Merkel, counselor, said, “…they may have a strong need for power and control, they may be attempting to minimize that which they fear (although they will NEVER admit that!) and they more than likely have been led by example to believe that it is normal to pick on those with less power than you. Often there is an early history of being disrespected and minimized themselves.”
In addition, according to the online website Bullying Statistics, this could come about due to institutional factors. This means that a workplace may not hold the way people treat each other at high esteem, and may not believe they are the ones to provide a solution. In fact, this is wrong. It is every bit a workplace’s responsibility to make their workers feel comfortable in their environment.
Sometimes, knowing if someone is being bullied can be tricky. Stopbullying.com lists some factors to take into consideration:
•Unexplainable injuries
•Loss of objects or destroyed clothing
•Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
•Changes in eating habits or coming home hungry because they did not eat at school
•Difficulty sleeping
•Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork
•Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
•Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
•Self-destructive behaviors (ex: running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide)
Seeing someone being bullied and intervening during this time is a crucial part to stop the bullying epidemic. According to eyesonbullying.org, if a bully is interrupted, the bully will typically stop within the first ten seconds of the disruption. For some, intervening may seem troublesome. The bystander could be too afraid to stand up to the person who is doing the bullying or worry about becoming the bullied. Either way, try to imagine how the person being bullied is feeling.
“Looking the other way or pretending not to notice is like saying ‘I’m okay with what you are doing.’ We all must do something!” Merkel said.
There are different ways to approach this type of incident though.
The environment a bully is in plays an important role in mistreatment. Merkel said if the environment accepts people who bully and deems them ‘popular,’ then there is more of a likelihood for bullying.
“I think that creating an environment in which it’s popular to be nice, accept people for who they are and to admire each other’s differences because together they make us better, is the most important thing,” Sarah Youngs, Link Crew advisor, said.
However, in some situations, this could backfire. The bully may take a more aggressive tactic to seem irreproachable. This way, people will stay away and the bully will get away with what he or she is doing.
Overall, the best way to intervene in this type of situation is to bring a friend along.
“A crowd is strong… if more people stand together, they can stand in more of a Gandhi fashion – peaceful resistance,” Merkel said.
A person who is being bullied should never view themselves as a victim. This puts them at a disadvantage.
“What the victim should do: first, don’t think of yourself as a victim! Victim mentality can be hard to shake once you have gotten used to thinking that way! You have to try to believe that the bully is wrong, even when you cannot do anything about it immediately,” Merkel said. “Second, get somewhere safe if you can. Have people around. Speak up if you can. Ask someone to walk with you. Report bullying. These are all things we all know, but may be hesitant to do in case the situation escalates. Third, speak up! Share your story!”
While the bullying websites make everything seem simple and concise, in reality, it is not. Bullying is a terrible, degrading experience: people freeze, information flies out of their heads and they feel helpless. Standing up is about finding courage and doing what is morally right.
Sadly, the truth is almost everyone has engaged in bullying. Those little jabs friends poke at other friends? They can be harmful.
“Calling someone hurtful names is not okay. Making someone feel stupid or embarrassed intentionally is not okay. Denigrating what someone loves or believes in is not okay. Disguising your abuse as a joke is not okay,” Merkel said.
Bullying is a matter to be taken seriously. Even though it is not happening to everyone, does not mean people do not know the feeling. Honestly, we have all been bullied. When someone belittles another person, it hurts their confidence and self-esteem.
Luckily, in our school, more kindness seems to be spread than meanness. “Take what you need” signs have been popping up all over North, a sort of sign that ‘yes, I am here for you, I care about you.’ High Five Fridays, started by Youngs, includes everyone and spreads kindness. Even good is being spread through Twitter, thanks to @LCNCompliments.
“After I saw the twitter page making fun of people [at LCN], I got disgusted,” @LCN Compliments said, “Then I heard that someone who was made fun of on that account wanted to kill themselves and I got even sicker to my stomach. I decided to make the page to try to help the problem. I see way too many people hurt over bullying and I knew that an anonymous compliments and being there for someone can turn any day around. I wanted to emphasize there’s a reason to live and not let these bullies bring you down.”
Progressively, North is taking a great stand against bullying in these small acts which add up to a large difference.
Standing together is the biggest difference anyone can make. Stand behind a friend who is being bullied and stand against the bully, stand together.
The reality is that everyone is the same in their own different ways. An oxymoron? Quite possibly, but it is more than that. It’s life-my life, your life, someone else’s life. Everyone is going through things, the same thing that another person is going through, and the same thing that the bully may be going through. Everyone is the same and all deserve to enjoy their lives as much as the last person.

"Take what you need" signs offers faith, courage, and laughter

“Take what you need” signs offers faith, courage, and laughter