Bullying in schools can destroy young lives

Danielle Urbina

EL PASO, Texas — Imagine walking down a hallway by yourself hearing people yelling insults at you and there is no way out except straight through the gauntlet.

The words fat, gay, slut and loser are thrown at you, but you cannot get out.

Each day brings the same suffering as the same people, with a few others chiming in, target you with the same verbal daggers. This is a reality that almost 30% of high school students in the United States face. Some are physically harmed, some are emotionally abused, and a growing number are bullied by “cyber bullies” through Internet networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Most of these young adults are suffering in silence.

Bullying is becoming a trend for students younger than high-school age. (©iStockphoto/mikdam)

Bullying is becoming a trend for students younger than high-school age. (©iStockphoto/mikdam)

Not long ago the New York Times ran a story about a young girl by the name of Phoebe Prince who was literally bullied to death. The bullying at her school in Massachusetts got so intense that it drove Phoebe to go home and hang herself from the staircase. She was taunted because of a previous relationship with a male student, which made girls at the school jealous. Their response to that jealousy was to turn Phoebe’s school life into a death sentence.

As I read up on Phoebe and other cases of school bullying, I was reminded of my own experience in middle school.

I was a new student at Slider Middle School, but I was not new to the students. I had gone to elementary school with most of them. For some unknown reason, they all had something against me before I even walked into the school. My first walk down the hallway to my locker was miserable and embarrassing. I could hear their whispers and their laughing piercing and pulsating in my ears. They stared at me and I stared at the floor.

Soon, the rumors went from “bitch” to “lesbian” and I wanted so desperately for no one to believe that they were true. I often ate lunch by myself in the bathroom and before I knew it, the rumors slowly became bullying. I was threatened by a group of girls who were known for being in the “tough crowd.” They surrounded me by the back portables after my last period of the day. I went home scared and found myself throwing up every day for a week, for fear that they were going to beat me up. It wasn’t until my Mom talked to the principal that the bullying stopped and the girls were suspended, thanks to Texas’ zero tolerance policy.

The bullying against me stopped in its entirety, thanks to school officials who actually cared. This however, is not the case in a lot of school across the United States. In Phoebe’s case, school officials claim they were not aware of any incidents of school bullying until three weeks prior to her death, when one teacher reported that another student threatened to “punch her in the face.”

Phoebe’s mother tells a different story. Mrs. Prince claims that way back in September, she tried talking to an assistant principal at the school about taunting towards Phoebe but nothing was done and Phoebe was made to endure the bullying.

Bullying also has become a trend for students younger than high-school age. In mid-April, criminal charges were pressed against three Lockhart Elmentary Magnet School students in Tampa, Florida for harassing another female student. The three students slapped another 10-year-old student and threw her into a fence and on another occasion tied a rope around her shoulders.

The fact that students are beginning to bully each other at a young age is a warning sign to school officials that zero-tolerance policies should be adopted by every school immediately. Students feel that it is acceptable to hurt each other not only physically, but emotionally as well, which is just as destructive.

When I was a student in high school, I never understood why policies on electronic devices and networking sites were so strict. It annoyed me and my friends that we could never check Myspace, to see what the latest gossip was. However, now that bullying has invaded the cyber world, I understand completely.

One search on YouTube under “school fight” will tell anyone what they really need to know about bullying: It’s happening in our schools, and the targets are too scared to talk about it. There is nothing left for them to do except endure it, but what happens when it goes to far?

We are told from childhood that it is okay to be different and we are often encouraged to be unique. These days, it is such a conflicting idea. It seems more often, that when children or young adults are different, whether overweight, homosexual, too “ugly” or even too “pretty,” they are treated horribly.

My heart goes out to these children, because being bullied takes away your voice. These children need their voices back.

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8 Comments

  • Clay Boggess says:

    This just shows that school districts and their educators need to take a proactive approach to team up against bullying. If the bullies know that they are going to loose and that there are swift consequences for their behavior, they will have no choice but to stop. An effective anti-bully environment may even prevent it from starting in the first place.

  • OwensInt says:

    I think that most of the points are accurate. However I do have one question. Can being bullied as an adolescent transcend into a depressed adult hood? http://bit.ly/aefu9x

  • mahdiyyah says:

    I think that this is very sad and very true a lot of people at a young age are being bullied and it effects their learning at school. Some schools are doing something about bulling and some needs to work harder at trying to stop it.

  • T says:

    I was bullied all through middle school and high school and five years later I still haven’t fully recovered. I’ve been saying it for years and I’ll say it again now: something needs to be done, because when these kids actually try to fight back they get painted as the antagonizers.

  • Bion Hopkins says:

    I want to know what i can do about bullying I was bullied in jr high. i live now near a jr high school and notice things when the kids are out from school. I’m a 48 yr old male and gay. Sould I call the school and try to find out what they are doing about this PROBLIN. thanks

  • JKS says:

    JKS
    December 13,2010 At 10:16 AM

    My daughter was taunted teased for being white, told she needed to get contacts, and that they didn’t like her kind around. My daughter ate lunch in the bathroom for constent torment. There are to many things to name, but when I talked to the principle he asked “Is that all” I said”Isn’t that enough?” They never did anything and my daughter ended up taking as many pills as she could. My daughter tried to commit suicide! It is the worst feeling you can imagine your heart is gone. The life you had is gone. My daughter is also bysexual and that was also something she was tormented for. To BION Yes go to the school talk to as many school officials as possible. I told the school distrist that if my daughter didn’t get moved that I would go to the media! We have to be the voice of these kids because for them they don’t have one!

  • EllenaSmith says:

    To give your child immunity from being bullied, they must develop a strong sense of self and have at least one good friend as well. While it is never too late to build self-esteem and establish personal rights. We parents should do our responsibility with our children in order to keep them from being bullied. We also need to teach our children social survival skills, teach and demonstrate compassion by treating others with respect and dignity. I would like to share this article anationofmoms about a service that can protect your children, here’s the link: http://www.tsue-thatswhatshesaid.com/2011/09/keeping-your-child-safe-supporting.html

  • MAC says:

    What was one to do when the lead bully was a teacher who was also cheating me on my grades, and my parents were either too stupid or too afraid to do anything. That was around 35 years ago, but what it did to my life was devastating. Something is wrong with having so many lives destroyed because of school. We would be better off without schools if nothing is going to be done about this extreme human rights abuse that is going on right here in this country.

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