Bullying Among Teenagers

letter-to-the-editor

It started on a glowing early April afternoon during my final two months of eighth grade, when I quickly stepped off the school bus and arrived at the bus stop, when out of nowhere, two individuals who went to my school tackled me to the ground and forcefully put my arms behind my back. One of the individuals yelled in my ear, “We’re gonna wrestle and beat the hell out of you so you’ll finally become a man, you retarded no-neck bitch.” Then, the two individuals forced me into a townhouse. Immediately, they started punching me repeatedly in the face, chest, eyes, abdomen, neck, arms, and legs until I fell to the carpet. One of the harassers jumped on my back, wrapped an ACE bandage completely around my neck and choked me out.

 

The two individuals then began to kick me numerous times in the face, stomach, back, and chest with such force that I had the wind knocked out of me and I had difficulty catching my breath for several minutes. During all of this, I tried to defend myself against my attackers, but they easily overpowered me. The beating lasted for about forty-five minutes to an hour until I was in a catatonic-like state on the floor, completely shocked over the ferocious beating I just received. After about twenty minutes, they pulled me up and as I was trying to escape from the apartment, one of the individuals revealed a BB rifle and shot me several times in the right knee, back, left arm, and right shoulder. One of the metallic pellets became lodged in my knee, as I luckily managed to escape the apartment and stumble back to my house where I was taken to the emergency room. The aftermath of this attack resulted in the two individuals being expelled, my family pressing charges against the harassers in court, and one of the harassers being charged with a four-year probationary period as well as a permanent restraining order.

 

This nightmarish act of cruelty completely changed my life because it caused me to develop post-traumatic stress disorder and an immense sense of paranoia and distrust amongst many individuals. During the three years of my middle school, I was constantly verbally and physically harassed by a majority of my classmates who called me an immense amount of slanderous terms and threw all of my schoolwork and my backpack out of a moving school bus window. I also was psychologically manipulated by individuals who pretended to be my friends but unbeknownst to me, genuinely hated me and treated me with absolute disrespect and contempt when in my presence and when around their clique of friends.

Bullying: everybody has witnessed it or maybe has partially or intentionally been involved in the act; verbally taunting or even physically assaulting a child or teenager for being different, because of their physical appearance, lack of athletic ability, lack of social skills, their clothes, or any other pointless and unjustifiable reason individuals utilize to excuse the malicious practice of bullying. As human beings, we all become so isolated and pre-occupied with our daily business and problems that we become blind or ignorant to the dire epidemic that is happening around us which is the excessive verbal and physical harassment millions of children are experiencing in their academic environment, work environment, local community, or at home. There is a consensus in society that bullying among young children and teenagers is an average adolescent obstacle that they just have to ignore or get through it as best as they can without getting involved or becoming socially shunned by their peers.

This consensus allows young children and teenagers to tease and mock each other by calling each other names, insults, and hurling wise-cracks, excusing it as a natural and normal process that everybody goes through on their pathway to growing up. In response to this popular consensus, I claim that there is a definitive point in childhood teasing where the teasing and all of the insults cross a line, when it occurs on an intentionally constant basis to any innocent child who is emotionally hurt by endless mistreatment and abuse. When it comes to a point where the child feels so scared and uncomfortable going to school with their peers or being in any social environment for an immense fear of being physically hurt, verbally assaulted, or physically manipulated by others, the problem has to be addressed immediately. In society, children must reside in a humane and polite environment in which individuals are constantly aware of what is appropriate and what is wrong in terms of how to treat other people in order to prevent any individuals to be subjected to levels of harassment, bullying, and social inaccessibility. These complicated levels of mistreatment can lead them to develop suicidal thoughts, angry temperaments, and severe psychological issues.

According to PACER’s , National Bullying Prevention Center website, “nearly one-third of school aged children are bullied each year” which is an estimated amount of thirteen million students who are victims of bullying.  The internet website, “naaas.org/statistics.pdf features a   research study conducted on school bullying among children and teenagers which shows that over seventy-seven percent of students are bullied physically, mentally, and verbally and about fourteen percent of students said they have suffered agonizing reactions to the abuse. The behavioral research book, “Aggressive Behavior: Current Perspectives” features a scholarly survey that showed over 84,000 students of Norwegian comprehensive schools admitting to being involved in bullying/ harassment problems on a frequent basis. The survey revealed that over 52,000 students were victims of bullying who felt helpless and nearly 41,000 students bullied other students to some degree. The official website (http://www.stompoutbullying.org/aboutbullying_theissue.php) of  the anti-bullying organization, “Stomp Out Bullying” shows that one out of four children in the United States are bullied at some point and that nine out of ten LGBT students have experienced harassment at school. On the website (http://www.a4kclub.org/get-the-facts/bullying-statistics) of the national organization, the Ambassadors 4 Kids club, it states that the acts of school bullying and cyber bullying are rapidly becoming an influential factor in youth violence including homicide and suicide. The

National Association of School Psychologists claimed that between the years of 1994-1999, there were over two-hundred and fifty three violent school deaths which were due to bullying and the rate of school violence because of bullying is rapidly increasing every year.

For members of the McDaniel student body who feel they are experiencing any form of bullying, physical harassment, verbal harassment, or sexual harassment, there are several resources available. Victimized students can report the abuse to the resident assistant of their housing area, the area coordinator of their living area, the office of residence life and even Campus Safety. Anybody who is being victimized on campus and is suffering from psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression because of it can always receive counseling services at the wellness center, which provides professionally trained counselors who are there to actively listen to the students and help them confront their problems.

I was able to survive my hellish years of constant harassment and torment from a malicious group of harassers through reporting to the school and police authorities about the brutal beating and shooting I was subjected. This allowed me to transfer to a much safer high school where I felt safe and comfortable to walk the hallways without fear of being called names or getting beaten up. However, there are innocent and kind-hearted young children all across the U.S. at this moment that are being harassed and teased in their schools and their communities and if local governments, state governments, and the federal government does not start to effectively address this issue, those millions of victimized children may not be so lucky as I was. The public school system needs to drastically improve their responses to preventing bullying by developing effective anti-bullying programs in middle schools and high schools that helps to strongly educate children about the terrible effects bullying has on innocent children and the vicious cycle of abuse that it creates. These anti-bullying programs can help spread an anti-bullying movement in the United States that could influence state and federal lawmakers to create an immense amount of anti-bullying legislation which would ensure the absolute safety of the nations youth and prevent them from experiencing the despicable agony of bullying.