Wakeland Access

New Age Bullying: Why We Must Adapt

McKenna Blair, Editor In Chief

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On Saturday Oct. 4 in between the baseball and the softball fields, white tables, a dunk tank, a DJ booth and some bounce houses were set up for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Welcome Rally. Students and teachers rushed to prepare, but when five o’clock rolled around, the student volunteers simply milled about; a few elementary age kids jumped in the bounce houses and some parents and teachers talked in the shade. What was supposed to be an anti-bullying rally, bustling with activity and high schoolers, was suffering from a noticeable lack of guests.

In 2012, I was sitting alone, reading in my room when I received not one, but a dozen texts from an unknown number telling me that I should kill myself, that I didn’t deserve to live. I won’t lie and say the thought seemed crazy to me. It wasn’t the first time I’d been told that, and I’d thought about it before, but it was like whatever part of me they were trying to kill had already died. The words had done their job. They made me feel intimidated into trying what they said to do. It was cyberbullying: the definition.

It’s a kind of bullying that doesn’t require anyone pushing me up against a locker in the hallway or knocking books out of my hands. It doesn’t take getting cornered in the parking lot, or getting kicked behind a dumpster. It isn’t the 1980s anymore. Bullying takes a couple taps on a cell phone and a send button.

With the rise of social media interactions such as tweets, asks, notes, likes, and comments, bullying has become more convenient and widespread. It’s easy, private, not even face to face. It is much more intimate, and therefore, far more effective. If it’s such a problem, why was the turn out for the Olweus Welcome Rally so low? Do people simply not care?

In elementary school and middle school, anti-bullying campaigns are hammered into us. We are taught that bullying is wrong, bad, awful. However, as kids grow up, so must the tactics used to promote ideas. Do teenagers sometimes still want to bounce in a bounce house? Of course. But the students that the rally needed to target–the bullies–would never do so around their peers.

The rally on Saturday was a noble thought. Student leaders volunteering for organizations such as TAFE, NHS, NTHS, Yearbook, HOSA, and DECA mixed with volunteers from soccer, basketball, football, swimming and diving. Soccer coach Stepon Esfandiary worked as a DJ, and Tega Pittman from the Frisco Education Foundation gave a moving speech after the varsity cheerleaders performed. It was thought out and well organized, but it seemed as though everything was tailored to a much younger, simpler crowd than high schoolers.

In an article by CBS News, anti-bullying programs targeting bullies are less effective than those that approach the whole school climate first. We know that bullying is wrong, bad and awful, and so most of us don’t do it. Perhaps the ideas we should be posing are asking why bullies do what they do, and helping them in that regard. Perhaps if it is treated as something that can be helped, instead of a crime, it would be more welcomed.

What if we did just that? Ask the student body what they want. Local bands playing in the back parking lot catered by Chick-fil-a? Free entry to one home football game, so we get as many people as we can in the student section? Something with no pressure to participate, but easy for many students to be a part of. Mention bullying, but don’t force it. We know our options. Let us choose. Don’t tell us the right choice- guide us.

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New Age Bullying: Why We Must Adapt