It is hard to ignore the spotlight that has been put on bullying in the media as of lately. Teenagers possessing mobile recording devices has enabled the world easy access to online content featuring fights between individuals, harassment and other social offenses. The disadvantage to the original posters, of course, is that their videos are responsible for getting their selves into trouble. Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor, made headlines across the nation this year when students uploaded a video of others verbally tormenting her at the back of a school bus. Viewers of this video were so shocked by the video that Klein received an unprompted $700,000 in donations to compensate for her grief, enabling her to to found the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation. Karen Klein is not the only one to receive public praise for being victimized this year. After having his car vandalized four times for being openly gay, Jordan Addison of Virginia was given a free and very impressive auto-body tune up that was publicized. Even more recently, Whitney Kropp, a Michigan teen, has been receiving nationwide support after being elected homecoming queen because of a vicious joke created by a group of other students.
Cases like these are neither new or unheard of. According to this study by the American Psychological Association, 17% of students reported being bullied sometimes between middle school and early high school. So why is there suddenly a nationwide spread of empathy? I hypothesize that the videos that are being posted enable outsiders to become first-hand witnesses to the harassment, sparking a deeper sense of offense and thus provoking the support for change. The same article mentioned above refers to a program being implemented in schools called Olweus Bullying Prevention Program which primarily uses the method of adults treating students like adults to successfully achieve the 30-50% drop in bully frequency that it reports.
Personally, I was surprised by the low 17% report of students being bullied. From what I have witnessed and heard of, it seems like that number should be much higher. What do you think? Do you think that the rise in media attention will have a positive impact on the frequency of bullying?