Children need to feel safe in order to talk about what they see happening or what may be happening to them.
By Nicole Smith
When I was growing up I was a victim of bullying. Back then there weren’t any cell phones or social media sites available in my rural area. The bullying came in forms of anonymous notes left in my locker or desk, prank phone calls, and name calling as I walked down the hallway of my school.
Today bullying has taken a new form, one that is often referred to as "cyberbullying." This type of bullying takes place using today’s technology in forms of cell phones and social media sites. It includes mean text messages, and ruthless messages in chat rooms, Facebook comments and posts, and emails.
According to stopbullying.gov, a federal website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children who are cyberbullied are more than likely bullied in person as well. These children have a harder time getting away from the abuse because of technology today. It can happen anywhere and at any time of the day.
I do remember the feelings that I had as a child from being bullied and I never understood why I was targeted and what I did to deserve it. We grow up wanting to feel like we fit in. Growing up is hard as it is; and when children have to deal with others being mean or making them feel "less than," it can be that much worse. It can permanently hurt a person’s self-esteem and many have trouble dealing with what is happening to them at school.
Schools and parents need to be aware of what is happening and find a way to educate children on the effects of bullying. I do know that at my daughters’ school the teachers have taught units on bullying and even had talking circles or safe groups. Children need to feel safe in order to talk about what they see happening or what may be happening to them. The children who are doing the bullying must also understand that what they are doing can cause serious damage to another young person and could end up with the victim taking their own life because they do not know how to cope with what is happening to them.
The effects of bullying for the victim and the one doing the bullying can be life threatening. It is my opinion that in most cases we tend to focus our attention on the victim. However, I believe that we must save the child or children that are identified as bullies as well. We must remember that they are still, after all, children, and do what can we do as adults to help steer them in the right direction.
The Internet can be used in many useful ways and connect people in a positive way. I believe that this should be the focus. We need to demonstrate how not to use the Internet as a way of destroying another human being.
Our children are the future of this country and it is up to the adults to help mold these young people to be respectful of others and themselves. No one has the right to make someone feel so bad about themselves that they take their own life or turn to drugs and alcohol because that feel they are not worth anything.