Every high school student in America must navigate through difficult obstacles to procure a diploma. Most of these obstacles are obligatory such as testing and attendance; however, there is one tribulation that is not: bullying. Bullying can be defined in several ways. It is the rude stares in the hallway, inviting someone to the lunch table only to make fun of them, the belittling comments in the classroom, the manipulative manner of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and the “funny” tweets that condemn peers.
Most people define bullying in such a cliche manner that the word loses its value; some even consider bullying as a rite of passage that students should have throughout their school years. The permanent psychological or physical disturbance that bullying victims face is enough to see that there is nothing impractical about degrading children at a time in such a substantial time in their lives. Bullying is larger than a mere joke at a peer’s expense or stolen lunch money. Bullying in society is seen as a minor thing.
Bullying is made into something humorous through movies, songs, television, and stereotyping. Therefore, teenagers can be misled about the real devastation bullying can have on their classmates. It is more than short-term hurt feelings; it can be psychological and physical scarring that could potentially last the victim a lifetime. According to the American Society of Positive Care for Children’s website, “about 28 percent of students aged 12-18 reported being bullied at school during the school year” (Bullying Statistics and Information).
This means almost one-third of students are dealing with this widespread dilemma, and it is only getting worse with more outlets for bullying such as social networking and easier access to the internet than ever before. Bullying in all forms is a threat to teenagers and can have serious or even deadly consequences to its victim. Bullying in high school is not a recent occurrence, rather it is one that has been around for years. There have always been vivid examples of bullying in television and movies that has turned bullying into the social norm.
Although these examples are still being broadcasted, a new trend has taken over. The rise of social networking websites such as Twitter, Yik Yak, and Facebook as well as the increased access to the world wide web have ultimately created the infamous phenomenon known as cyber bullying. Bullyingstatistics. org states that “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying” (Cyber Bullying Statistics). Cyber bullying has only furthered the reach that a bully can have to their victim and made the act of bullying less confrontational and more discrete.
Much like bullying off of the internet, cyber bullying can impact almost every aspect of a teen’s life. The 2011 film Cyberbully is a perfect example of how serious the online bullying epidemic is in high school. It follows a teenage girl who almost took her own life due to the extreme online bullying she experienced. The film strongly depicts what some high school students have to face on a regular basis and serves as a major eye-opener as to how bullying online can affect teens so negatively.
In spite of the more recent increase in bullying taking place over the internet, the severity of cyber bullying is still equivalent to that of other kinds of bullying. Face-to-face encounters are still current and continuous facets of high school bullying. Other types of bullying can be broken down into two categories: psychological bullying and physical bullying. Psychological bullying is the use of words or mental manipulation to hurt someone while physical bullying is using external forces to inflict pain. Several studies have shown that bullying can change almost every part of the victim’s life.
One study in particular from the book Bullying in Secondary Schools: What It Looks Like and How To Manage It gives a list of the side effects one can suffer from bullying and demonstrates the problems that can be caused to the victims. The list includes physical injury, damaged clothing, they begin stealing, things are stolen from them, they experience changes in mood, their grades in school decline, they are reluctant to go to school, they seem to have little to no friends, they do not stay out often, and they become evasive or no longer communicate (Sullivan, Cleary, and Sullivan 13).
As well as academically, bullying makes a social life more difficult for the victim to obtain. The stress and trauma that can be caused by excessive bullying and feelings of loneliness and isolation could possibly push a student to do things that no one saw coming. Bullying in any form or fashion can be life-altering for a student; the hardship can be so intense that the victim could turn to self-harm or even suicide. The correlation between suicide and bullying has been much more noticeable after several stories of bullied teens taking their own lives were released over the past few years.
One of the most popular is the story of Amanda Todd, a high school student who was bullied to the point of suicide. Before her tragic death, she released a video discussing her long and painful journey with bullying. She is one of the many teens whose cries for help were unheard intentionally or unintentionally by those around them. Although these stories have been brought to American attention, suicide in bullied teens has failed to decrease. The Ark of Hope for Children states that “suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and has around 4,400 casualties per year.
Although this number seems low, there are 100 attempts for every suicide which amounts to 440,000 suicide attempts annually. Those students that have been bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide (Ark of Hope for Children). This statistic proves that if the bullying epidemic subsided, the number of teens who have committed or attempted suicide would drop considerably. In other words, falling numbers of bullying incidents could literally mean life or death for teens all across the country.
With suicide rates due to bullying being extremely high, most people believe that one person simply cannot make a difference. However, this is not the case. Even the smallest acts of kindness are appreciated by someone who is going through a rough time. Bullying campaigns and hotlines have been created to aid students in their own personal war against bullying. One particular campaign for teens is “Delete Digital Drama”. Seventeen Magazine and ABC Family have joined together to form “Delete Digital Drama”, a campaign against bullying on the web.
ABC Family stars and activists including Tyler Blackburn, Shay Mitchell, and Shailene Woodley have teamed up to spread the word about how harmful bullying can be. In the words of Shailene Woodley, “We need to start listening to our hearts and create the change we want to see! ” (Corbett 158). Bullying is such a critical problem for high school students all over America. Whether it is cyber bullying, physical bullying, or mental bullying the impact can have the capability to last the victim a lifetime.
This is why it must be mandatory to take bullying and the consequences of it very seriously. Being careless about what is said online, in person, or behind someone’s back can potentially end a peer’s life. Therefore, when given the choice to participate in bullying or stand against, it is imperative to remember that someone’s life could possibly be at stake. If the mean teen epidemic no longer existed, imagine how much healthier, happier, and longer the lives of teenagers could be.