Bullying, in whatever form it takes, must always be taken seriously.
When you just look at the numbers, the amount of bullying that happens in our schools and online is staggering.
Anyone who says “kids will be kids,” just doesn’t understand the problem. Young people have been damaged for life and some have taken their own lives as the direct result of having been bullied by their peers.
A national organization that has helped to lead the charge in anti-bullying campaigns, NoBullying.com, has reported that at least 50 percent of teens have been bullied online, according to the iSafe Foundation.
According to the organization:
— About 10 to 20 percent of those teens are bullied on a regular basis per the Cyberbullying Research Center.
— One-million children on Facebook alone were harassed in 2011 as reported by Consumer Reports.
— DoSomething.org claims 90 percent of children in grades 4 through 8 have been bullied at some point.
— Safe Foundation reports 35 percent of children have actually been threatened online, some more than once.
Thirty-four percent of those who participated in cyber-bullying did so both as a victim and a bully, according to the Teen Online and Wireless Safety Survey conducted in 2009.
Cyber-bullying is every bit as real, as prevalent and as dangerous as in-person bullying.
On its websites, NoBullying.com said, “Social media is one of the leading places in which children today experience bullying. According to the Pew Internet Research Center, 95 percent of teenagers have witnessed cyber-bullying while they have been using their social media sites. Of that percentage, 84 percent have seen someone defend the victim and 84 percent have stood up for the victim personally. However, 90 percent of those who witnessed bullying on their social media sites have also ignored the behavior at some point with 35 percent of them doing so often. This shows that sometimes teens are comfortable standing up and sometimes they aren’t, even among the same group of teens.”
NoBullying.com points to a 2009 survey by the Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey indicating the most common reasons for bullying include:
— 11 percent show off for their friends
— 14 percent want to be mean
— 21 percent are out to embarrass the victim
— 28 percent use it for entertainment
— 58 percent are trying to get back at the victim for various reasons
— 58 percent feel the victim deserves it
— 16 percent have other reasons
Student surveys consistently indicate young people realize bullying is a problem in schools and online.
Though high school, middle school and elementary school students say bullying is a problem and agree that it is wrong to bully another student, it still happens, and it happens way too often.
Parents must shoulder a lot of the responsibility.
Teachers address the problem of bullying, sometimes on a daily basis.
School counselors must spend an inordinate amount of time addressing the problem.
Mental health-care workers, social services and even law enforcement, sadly, must battle with the fallout.
Students obviously are aware and many of them — including those involved in the proactive peer program at Hahira Middle School — are doing what they can.
Like most things, the real solutions must begin in the home.
Violent homes produce children with violent tendencies.
Children mimic the behavior of their parents — plain, pure and simple.
Seeing adults act out at high school sporting events, or even at a little league game, for example, sends a strong message and sets a bad example for children.
When children have parents and role models who act respectfully and treat others with respect they tend to, in turn, show respect to others.
All young people need to be taught to treat others with respect and dignity.
They will learn those lessons in the classroom, at church or through anti-bullying programs, but they must first learn those lessons in the home.