Have you ever been bullied? Either during your school years or in your adult life? My guess is that at some point your answer would be "yes." I am incredibly fortunate to be working with a group students this year on what I call "lost skills." In this work, one of my students came in one day looking sad. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had been bullied earlier in the day. This got me thinking about all of the instances I dealt with last year as a vice principal, where students were bullied non-stop. And when I say non-stop, I truly mean that.
When I was a kid, I definitely had moments of kids being mean to me. Would I say I was "bullied," as defined by school district administrators? Not necessarily, because it wasn't one specific student harassing me over and over and over again. There were kids that were mean here and there, and my feelings were hurt, but I never had one kid (or multiple kids) consistently picking on me time after time. That being said, bullying or just kids being mean, I had the opportunity to escape. At the end of the school day I would go home and rely on the comfort of my home, as well as the distance created from the kids who were being mean to escape. Nowadays with 24-7 access to technology, kids don't get a break.
The vast majority of kids these days have a cell phone, and on it access to things like Instagram, Snapchat, Musical.ly, etc. The amount of bullying that goes on via social media is truly horrific. Some kids go so far as to create videos specifically calling out one kid, then sending that video to his/her friends, which then circulates around the entire school. So kids these days go home after school, and may have alerts set up on their phone to let them know if/when anyone is saying anything/posting anything related to him/her. And thus it begins. They get an alert on their phone that someone is "dissing" them, and have to go home seeing negative posts about them, likely after having spent a day at school being dissed, ultimately never having an opportunity for a break. This can create a sense of hopelessness, where kids feel like the bullying will never end, ultimately causing anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and in some cases hatred and violence.
Our current technological-bullying reality is truly a call for students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and all school personnel to step up and intervene to help mitigate potentially violent and irreversible harm and loss. If you see someone being bullied, say something.
Do you have the courage to step up and stand up for what is right?
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