Bullying is one of the fastest growing problems in American schools today. It is often a precursor to suicide and school-based violence. As an adjunct professor in psychology at Roane State, my students are required to research a topic, write a paper and present their findings to the class.
Hayden Shadden, who graduates next week from Cumberland County High School, chose bullying as his topic. I asked his permission to use his paper in my column this week.
Hayden is the son of Wayne and Verna Shadden of Crossville. He will attend Ole Miss this fall.
* * *
Bullying and Its Effects
By Hayden Shadden
Bullying is a nationally known reoccurring problem throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Merriam-Webster defines bullying as "a blustering browbeating person; one habitually cruel to others who are weaker." Everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, has bullied one time or another in their life time. Bullying can be anything from calling someone a name indirectly or hitting someone. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, social clubs, etc., but recently, within the last twenty years, anti-bullying has become an aggressive campaign to end bullying once and for all.
There are many different types of bullying and, with the new age of technology, cyberbullying has become a rising problem. There are three main types of bullying: verbal, social and physical. Verbal bullying is saying or writing something mean or hurtful to someone directly or indirectly. Some types of verbal bullying include, but are not limited to, teasing, name calling, inappropriate sexual comments, and taunting to cause harm. Verbal bullying is largely used by middle school children as they feel like they can degrade someone very easily. The next type of bullying is social bullying. Social bullying is referred to as "relational bullying, involves hurting someone's reputation or relationships" (Stop Bullying). Social bullying includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling other people not to be friends with someone else, spreading rumors, and embarrassing someone or a group of people in public. Social bullying is a type of bullying that is most used by teenagers and young adults, but the spreading rumors part can apply to almost anyone. Spreading rumors can happen at work, school or even the beauty shop. Who would have thought? This is the type of bullying that people almost never realize that they are doing and that it is even considered bullying. The last type of bullying is probably the most harmful to some, physical bullying. Physical bullying involves hurting someone or something. Most physical bullying is hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking someone's things, or making mean and rude hand gestures. Physical bullying can hurt anyone and can happen to anyone.
Bullying can happen anywhere and at any time. For children, "Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen traveling to or from school, in the youth's neighborhood, or on the Internet" (Stop Bullying). For adults, bullying can happen at work, church or home. Adults can be bullied by their spouse, parents or even children. Someone never knows when and where bullying will occur at.
The newest type of bullying, and may later be included in the three types of bullying, is cyberbullying. "Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites" (Stop Bullying). With the rise of social media and the dependence young children rely on it, there is no doubt that there would be bullying on the web. Some examples of cyberbullying are sending mean texts or emails, sending rumors via email or on social networking sites, posting embarrassing pictures or videos of someone else on a website, or creating fake profiles to bully someone. I have witnessed cyberbullying before on various social networking sites and have seen what it does to the bully's life and the victim's life. "Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person, as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior" (Stop Bullying). I think it is important for parents or guardians to monitor a child's activity on the Internet and phone. These are two forms of communication that can be easily abused and, more times than not, are abused.
Bullying can have a lasting effect on a person's mental and physical health. "Studies show that people who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems, such as low self-esteem, stress, depression, or anxiety. They also think about suicide more" (Kids Health). "Bullying can lead children and teenagers to feel tense and afraid" (NLM). Some warning signs that someone is being bullied are unexplainable injuries, lost or destroyed personal items, frequent headaches or stomach aches, changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, declining grades, not wanting to attend school, sudden loss of friend(s), feelings of helplessness or even self-destructive behaviors. Many children do not seek help because it makes them feel helpless and they want to deal with their problem themselves and don't want someone else to. Children also fear that they may be rejected by their peers if they tell an adult. Adults don't tell people that they are being bullied because they have the idea that they are an adult and can handle it themselves and sometimes it can turn violently between the victim and the bully.
Bullying is an epidemic that is happening everywhere. As stated previously, many actions by us and our peers are considered bullying tactics. A lot of people do not realize that they bully or they do realize and they keep doing it. The national ad campaign, Stop Bullying, has crafted many public service announcements on television, in magazines and even online, but bullying still exists. Parents, educators, mentors, and peers are all trying to curb the bullying effect and change the world into a positive environment. With one step at a time, bullying can be stopped. We just have to take the time to admit that we bully and see how we can change it, for good.