Friday, September 28, 2012

Will the Spotlight on Bullying Reduce its Frequency?

The issue of adolescent bullying is one that has been present for so long that it would be difficult to determine a point in history when it first began. Undoubtedly, it is a facet of ego and human behavior that manifests itself differently at the different stages of maturity and lifetime. 

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?


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  2. Bullying is a common problem that has been happening for who knows how long. As mentioned in the article above, there is a great deal of damage that can result from being bullied. This typically involves some form of emotional trauma or scarring, some using violence as an outlet (i.e. school shootings). Programs have been created such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which have been designed to help put a stop to bullying. Part of this program is about adults being positive role models, more involved with children, providing a warm environment yet being firm in reinforcing the right kind of behavior and following rules.
    I was also surprised by the surprisingly low percentage (17%) of students who had reported being bullied. I believe that what might be happening is that not all of those being bullied are coming forward. It might be because of embarrassment, wanting to forget or ignore that it is happening, or not wanting to make the situation worse. The rise in media attention has definitely affected the awareness of bullying. Watching these videos on youtube puts a whole new light on the situation. For some reason seeing it filmed and posted online as if the people participating are proud of it makes it even more horrific of an act. I think that these videos have and will continue to have a positive impact on the frequency of bullying.

  3. I remember from a speaker who came to my high school one time and asked if we have bullied and if we have been bullied. 100% turnout for the most part. For one thing, it could have been just the way he worded it to expect us all to raise our hands. But considering that and the 17% turnout only reflect those who are wiling to say that they are being bullied. And from stories I've heard from family member's jobs, harassment and power abuse still continues on from management as well as other employee through rule abuse and friends in employee services. And no matter how bad it would get my family members would still try to subdue it rather than call out on harassment. Because to them and friends who have also been bullied, in perspective and well as my own experiences, it's not as big deal compared to other things. Sure, it makes us mad, but if it doesn't interfere with our ability to get things done we can deal with it. I also think that those who are not willing to admit being bullied find it embarrassing. But I think once you find out that it happens to everyone it's not really a big deal, hence we all raised our hands during that assembly. I also think that with everything being able to be recorded anywhere at anytime is just more reason to be careful of what you do because everyone could be watching. But surprising that doesn't give reason for bullies to be more cautious about it as it is possible for the videos to go against them.

  4. I agree that the media attention on bullying today has affected the general awareness of the issue. The amount of attention the media puts on bullying can also create a negative impact on the amount of bullying the occurs. The media exposure bullies get might make them want to continue what they do, especially since they are getting extra attention, which is what they want in most cases. I'm sure that creating videos and recording bullies in the act is making parents and other adults aware of the problems children can face in schools, but i don't think it's necessary to put that much attention on the subject. I agree with the statement that "children will be children". Occasionally there are those cases that are more intense than others and require adults to help solve the problem, but I have not witnessed a situation like this personally.

    I thought it was interesting that the article pointed out how girls also bully each other and do just as much damage as boys would, without doing any physical harm. Either way, I don't think exposing videos on bullying will do more harm than good. So I guess it's fine?

  5. I'm not sure that there is a single person out there who hasn't been bullied in some way during his or her lifetime. I personally know a number of people who have bullied others, and even I'll admit to having taken a small part in bullying culture. However it is my belief that in the type of society that we live in now, with the attention that such social indecencies are getting, bullying has typically become typically looked down upon by the children in schools especially, especially as they get older. You don't really see much of a single student getting picked on by another student, or even a group of students, in the hallways these days because I think that bullying has turned into something of a social taboo. At least from my experience - things may have been different at other schools, but from what I found, bullying was generally frowned upon by my fellow students.

    That's not to say that it doesn't happen, of course. One of the more major cases recently occurred at Rutgers University, where Tyler Clementi was publicly demeaned and embarrassed for his sexual orientation, resulting in him committing suicide. However as people have mentioned before me, the risks to such behavior have increased dramatically, and the bullies have since been tried and charged for their actions. Cyberbullying has probably become the main front for the war against bullying, as it provides attackers with a high degree of anonymity, which allows them to get away with their actions without having to face the general public shunning them. The hacker group Anonymous in particular are known for threatening individuals, holding personal information hostage, for no reason other than "the lulz," and have taken what used to be the indecency of stealing a person's lunch money to new levels.

  6. Anonymous is definitely a problem, but they're less of a group of bullies, and more of a "hacktivist" group. Cowardly bullies like to cloak themselves as the said popular group, since it's so easy to just claim you're with them. But lately they've been getting more organized into different groups, such as LulzSec.

    But going back to the topic, bullying is definitely still around. Social media has shined a light on the issue, but it can only do so much. As a person who's been bullied for most of my life, (I'm sure we can just sit here all day and psychoanalyze my mild obsession with cartoons and video games rooting back to that, huh?) I hate to see others suffer as well. My little cousin, for example, is going through middle school, and he's told me that the kids pick on him and such. Harder out there for a person of color, because they throw around the n-word at him, tell him he's worthless because he looks different, and just put him down for everything; the same thing I've gone through. He tells his parents, and they go to the school, speak with the teacher, the bully and their parents, but you know what? That honestly doesn't do anything. At most, it'll make the bullying stop for about a few days, then it's back to the grind.

    Something I wish I knew, that I told my little cousin, is that he has to stand up and fight for himself. I didn't have anyone to look up to as a kid, or someone to watch out for me, but I'm gonna be that someone for him. The main bully's strength comes from the victim feeling like he's worthless, and deserves the abuse, and doesn't feel strong enough to fight back. I'm there to support him, and tell him it's okay to fight back. I know it seems wrong to parents and school staff, but when you're being punched in the face, what do you do? You can't just tell the teacher. They'll just give a slap on the wrist. There comes a point where the victim has to step up, and show he's no longer an easy target.

    I told him this last year, and in March, I got a call from my aunt asking me why I taught him to fight. He apparently got in trouble for fighting back at school, and said I was the one who said to defend himself. I stood by my word; he told me he didn't start it, and was just defending himself. Even though he was suspended from school for a day, he no longer tells me about his bully anymore. He's definitely not picked on anymore, and it shows through the way he acts now, how he's more proud to be himself.

    Sorry if I went off and a tangent, and made this become a little personal. This is one of those topics I get really into.

  7. There's always a negative and a positive side to things right? I think we've all touched on the positive and the negative side of the influence that social media has had on bullying. But I believe that until recently the internet has only allowed for the negative to prosper. It has only been within the last year that people who have been bullied through the internet have been showed sympathy. In the first couple years that I used social media I mostly witnessed it used in a negative way. In middle school it was used as a way to show to other classmates how many friends you had, what you were doing; basically how "popular" you were. I can not really remember a time when people were talking positively about something that they saw on someone's facebook or myspace page until college. It seems to me that social media has basically been a way to connect others, but in a way that can be considered superficial. I can recall many times where either a friend or even I looked at acquaintances Facebook pages not to talk to them or because they were an old friend that we hadn't talked to in a while but because we heard some type of gossip about them and wanted to find out for ourselves. I am not saying that social media is a bad thing, it can be used in so many good ways but I think that it's important to recognize that your friends are not just looking at your page, everyone is.

    This goes along with every video that is posted on Youtube. Before social media the video mentioned above would have only circulated amongst a small community, not the entire country. So in a way I feel like being bullied, if you know it is being taped or even don't know it at the time can result in something that is much more traumatizing for the victim. I think it's great that others are standing up for them and helping them in multiple ways but I have to believe that it would be incredibly embarrassing to know that thousands of people have witnessed you being bullied. It is wonderful that the women from the bus bullying video has been able to make her situation positive by creating her own charity but I don't think that every situation has resulted so well.

    So in short I think that the internet has allowed for a positive influence for anti-bullying campaigns but has also allowed bullies to have a great impact.

  8. Bullying has changed forms as social media has evolved. Before the internet, bullying was a inherently a much more confrontational. I believe the use of written text as opposed to verbal or physical harassment has the potential to be a much more widespread issue. Bullying has never been so easy, just type some hateful words, press send. The internet expedites everything, including bullying. Most bullies probably wouldn't think of themselves as bullying.

    The idea of anonymity is important in this issue, but I'm sure in a lot of the cases the victim knows exactly who the bully is. It is not so much the ability to hide your identity, it's the fact that it is now much easier to be mean. I don't think there is much anyone can do about it, anti-bullying messages saturate our media, yet almost every depiction of adolescence involves a bully of some sort. I don't believe everyone can be forced to be nice, nor do I think that bullying getting so much media attention is making bullies stop. I do think that it can bring awareness to certain communities who ignore these occurrences.

    Bullying is a part of life, and does not stop at adulthood. Many people just feel they have the need to assert their betterness. When people divulge personal aspects of their lives to the public, this type of thing is bound to happen. The internet can help spread awareness while simultaneously contributing to it.

  9. Is the shadow of white light black? I don't know...Actually there is no white light and there is absolutely no black shadow. Everything has good sides and bad sides, and there are many ways of explaining it. Media brings violent in front of the camera to give pressure, but it also allow people who are viewing those videos and aren't mature enough to copy the action. You know, if they know everyone has been bullied or bully others, they will go ahead to do it. This action is follow by the societies.
    After I reading all the comments before me, I think there are so many reasons that bullying happens, for example, expression of self-satisfying, racism, outsider of a group... Bullying doesn't happen between the stronger side and the weaker side. In each community, there are some "rules", and people whoever feel unaware of them or break them will be abandoned by this group. Cold violent is worse than physical violent, because it create psychological damage and trauma. I am not sure whether those association really reduce bullying. It seems to be human nature from the Stone Age that the weak one has to follow the strong one. And people tend to copy other's actions.

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  10. The thing that struck me the most about the article was when it compared how boys bully versus how girls bully. It is true that it spreads across both genders, but it’s definitely executed in different ways, for the most part. When referring to the bullying tactics of boys, the article tended to accuse males of using a more physical and violent approach whereas the female bullies use a more subtle and indirect method.

    After attending an all girls boarding middle school for three years, I can definitely agree with this statement. Groups of gossiping girls were unfortunately all too common. I feel like many people often associate bullying with physical harm and attacks but, as I’ve seen, the sneaky backhanded comments, that often come from girls, can be just as, if not more, scarring. Being excluded from a group or hearing rumors being spread about you cause a great amount of emotion damage and have proven to be extremely traumatizing for many. I believe that in many ways this type of verbal bullying is easier to get away with and the rise of anonymity on social networks is making it only worse. Calling attention to the effects of bullying may be helping to lessen it, however, I believe that bullying will always be present.

  11. Last semester at Pratt, I observed several classrooms at a small charter school in Long Island City, Queens. I was shocked. The smallest class size was 27, and each contained children from various ethnic backgrounds. Bullying was an everyday occurrence, and most times more severe than anything I had ever endured growing up. Most of the teachers were fresh out of college, short with the children, and seemed to have little knowledge or even interest in the subject matter. They did nothing to prevent it.
    These are only a few of the factors that determine how diverse groups of children will interact with one another when placed in the same cramped, poorly funded classroom. Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities reveals the many racial, financial, and social barriers that create these settings where bullies are bred. Bullying is a deep rooted problem that requires more than just one solution for its many forms. I think that these answers remain hidden in the many reforms our education system needs. Children must not only be told that they are equal, they must see it.