As a nation, we are all pretty aware of the bullying issue. There are anti-bullying campaigns on social media, through commercials, and even movies about it. It’s real, too. The numbers are extremely sobering; suicide is the third highest cause of death for teens.
While we’re all aware of this issue, we seem to all disagree on how to solve the problem. Not only does it lead to suicides, but school shootings seem to be happening almost daily now. This book explores the connection between bullying and school shootings.
From my own experiences with bullying (you can read my post from 2011 here), I’ve come to realize that no administrative help was going to fix the problem. Because administrators did try to help me, and when they intervened, it just made things worse. Their intentions were in the right place, but unfortunately it just led to more issues.
The thing is, bullying isn’t a new phenomenon. If you are like me and watch 24 hours of the Christmas Story during Christmas, you know poor Ralphie and his brother were bullied. No, I am not suggesting that we retaliate by punching the shit out of the person (although it did seem to work for him…). But I think the main difference between bullying then and bullying now is the internet. Kids don’t get away from it when they go home at night. Ralphie wasn’t sitting on his cellphone watching his bullies have a fun night out via social media. Man, he was busy thinking about his Christmas gift.
Almost 10 years after my own struggle with being bullied, I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to not go after the bullies necessarily, because in the end, it’s never going to stop. People will be assholes. Furthermore, I’d argue that the people who bully have their own issues they need to work out and that’s why they pry on the weaker. Hell, I’m almost 25 and I still know people who are bullies.
I think we need to teach kids better coping skills to deal with it when they do get bullied.
Really, although my experience was traumatic, it turns out that a lot of the emotional pain I felt was because I already had low self-esteem. So, basically, in my head, I sucked. Therefore, when I had 12 of my classmates telling me that I sucked, a red light started flashing in my brain that said, “They figured it out! They know you suck! Everything you’ve been thinking about yourself is real!”
In all reality, those kids knew nothing about me and didn’t need to affect me the way that they did. The problem, after all, was that I felt shitty about myself and gave in to the lies they were spitting at me.
Our generation has a problem sitting with feelings. We don’t like to feel things, mainly because we don’t have to. When we feel out of place, we go on our phones and check Facebook. When we are angry, we tweet about it. When we are sad, we watch a movie. We never learned how to sit with our feelings without taking action. Our society is so fast-paced that we have a reaction trigger. Something happens and we act quickly.
If you read my blog entry about my own experience, you’ll see that there were points that I wanted to die. I did not want to live. Now, almost 10 years later, I realize all the things I would have missed out on: two of my sisters’ weddings, the birth of three amazing cousins, college graduation, relationships, great times with great friends, a million laughs and smiles… I could go on forever.
We need to teach kids how to cope. How to stand up not only to their bullies, but to the personal voice inside their heads that are telling them they suck. It’s the only way we are going to save people from themselves.