In the past, bullying was considered a harmless right of passage; however, it is actually a destructive unbalance of power. Today, students experience cyber and physical bullying on a daily basis; and, there are students who witness bullying but do nothing about it.
Dictionary.com defines cyber bullying as using technology to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others. Formspring, a social networking site, has become the #1 place for bullying anonymously. The site is considered “the online truth or dare, without the dare." The people misusing the ‘hide my name feature’ on this site are accusing people of being gay, stupid, ugly or worse. When it comes to cyber bullying, people take hurtful remarks and harassment very seriously. In this day and time, technology has a huge influence and kids are a lot meaner than they used to be. Remember what you write on the computer is for everyone to read and will have a lasting effect on the intended reader.
Bystander bullies are people who choose to watch what is going on. They are not the victim or the bully. Often, bystanders stand back because they fear becoming the next victim, and often end up feeling guilty because they did not do something about it. There are two sides to a bystander: helpful and hurtful. Jill Jahries, guidance counselor at Ridgely Middle School explained, “Helpful bystanders are people who directly intervene or get help for the bully or victim. Hurtful bystanders could be instigators; they may encourage the hostility or just accept it and move on.” Mrs. Jahries further explained, “Bystanders do have the power to stop bullying by empowering the victim. Bystanders should find a friend or a teacher they can trust, so that they have someone to confide in about the situation they witnessed.”
When one person uses physical intimidation, like pushing, shoving and punching, to gain power over peers, this is called physical bullying. News stories about bullying appear often. For instance, a middle school student in Maryland was video taped pleading to his classmates to stop pushing him into lockers and making comments to him. This student wondered what he had done to deserve the treatment and the answer is simple, nothing. However, all students in Maryland have recourse if they are being bullied, the Maryland Department of Education created the Harassment or Intimidation (Bullying) Reporting Form. Students can complete this form to report incidents of bullying and the school will use to investigate.
Bullying has many emotional effects; people are scarred for the rest of their lives when they are treated in this manner. In the past, bullying was seen as something that everyone went through. Kids were being told to just ignore it. What happens when it does not stop? Have you thought about how your words on the computer or actions during the school day have affected someone? Make the choice. Take a stand to stop bullying; when you see bullying, speak up and get help. Do not look the other way, it will not just disappear.
Kayla Young, now a freshman at Dulaney High School, learned about the effects of middle school bullying while researching this article.