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National Bullying Prevention Month

Chatham High School (in Virginia) is marking National Bullying Prevention Month with students handing out candy and greeting other students at the start of the day. Students also held anti-bullying signs from the windows of a parked bus and used chalk to write anti-bullying messages on the sidewalk in front of the school’s entrance. Classroom doors were decorated with prevention messages and positive statements.

At what point do jokes become a form of bullying?

Most teens can agree that at least once in their high school career, they have been bullied. Where does it occur most, though? When asked this question, most teens replied that they have seen it more online than in person.

“People feel the need to be stronger, so they bully others, except they no longer do it in public, they hide behind a screen,” said a student who asked to be anonymous because they have been bullied.

Today, it is becoming increasingly harder to figure out who is fake and real on the internet. This leads to trust issues and if you say something to the wrong person, they may use it against you.

About 59 percent of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. When asked how they felt with these results, teens weren’t shocked.

“This is the number of reported bullies, most likely these numbers are lower, I would expect one in two teens to be bullied,” said Sarah Hashman, an 18-year-old student at Tyler Consolidated High School.

Why is it that we feel the need to tear each other down? Throughout a couple of weeks, I randomly selected people and asked them to define bullying. Out of all of them, I caught words like harassment, repetitive, torment and harmful.

Knowing that bullying is happening everywhere, are we ever safe? Teens tend to have a hard enough time getting through a regular school day, let alone if they are being bullied. Bullying has led to many outcomes, for example depression and suicide.

Teens don’t realize that the words they say have an effect on one another; they try to tear each other down to feel better about themselves. However, do teens have a safe place to go if they are being bullied?

Most agreed that they have a teacher or adult in their school or community that they can go to for help. However, these events still aren’t being reported. When teens were asked why these events aren’t reported, I receive replies like they are scared, they don’t think it will help or they don’t have anyone there for them.

As I was working on this article, I learned that lots of people in my school have experienced bullying. This shocked me, because the people that told me that they had been bullied didn’t act like they had been bullied. This created more questions in my head than I expected. However, the question that stuck with me most was, how do people act when they are getting bullied? I guess we may never know the answer to this, because everyone reacts to things differently.

Bullying has led to so many problems in our world that people have started to treat it like a normal thing. Tyler Consolidated High School created an anti-bullying campaign called, “Sources of Strength.” A group of faculty and students will stand together to stop bullying. I hope that other schools take on this role and band together to make a change.