Amber Cornwell had a promising future ahead of her. She was an honor roll student, an athlete, and the crush of many guys at her school. Sadly, this would also put a target for bullying on her back. On December 20th, 2014, Cornwell decided that the bullying was too much and suicide was her only way out. Her bone-chilling last words to her peers on Facebook were “If I die tonight, would anyone cry”.
Unfortunately, Cornwell’s story is not unique, and every year over 4000 teenagers commit suicide due to bullying. To parents out here reading, if you are not careful with your child’s well-being, they may very soon be apart of this statistic statistic. I do not want that to happen, you do not want that to happen, no one wants that to happen. Today I will be talking about the effects of bullying on the victim, a new way ways bullying has adapted, and how we as a community can put an end to this.
Contrary to popular belief that bullying is just a something small you face in school, the physiological impacts of bullying are more long term and severe than you would think.
One physiological impact that bully victims face is lack of self confidence as the bullying from their peer causes them to feel powerless. This lack of confidence would result in the victim having a lot of self doubt about their decisions, which could haunt the victim in the future as it could spill into their academics, career, and relationships.
Another physiological impact of bullying is depression. Constantly getting shoved around and being told that they are worthless can weigh a lot on children and teen’s mind, especially given how impressionable their minds our. Feelings of loneliness and uselessness can very quickly overwhelm the victim. In an effort to escape the problem, the bullie beginning school to avoid the bullies, turning to substance abuse to relieve the pain, or worst of all believing what their bullies have been telling them and making the decision to end their life. According to the CDC, one of the three leading causes of deaths among young adolescents is suicide.
Teenagers bullied to their breaking point may also end up resorting to violence. In the cases of Columbine and Sandy Hook, the assailants themselves were bullied by their peers. In fact, 12 out 15 major school shootings since the 1990s were committed by students or former students who were bullied to a point of no return. The students were built with rage after years of feeling like dirt and having no one to turn to for help. These kids were not born to kill, they were forced to kill.
The age old solution to bullying, which is avoiding the bully, is not as simple as it used to be. As technology and communication evolved, so did bullying. Not only can a bully hide behind a screen, but rumors and lies about the victim can spread faster than ever before. With just a click of a button, a picture or rumor and single handedly ruin someone’s life.
Sadly, this was the case for Amanda Todd. Sexually explicit photos of her were floating around on the internet and no matter where she moved, the photo followed her to her new school. Like Cornwell, the harassment proved much for Todd, and on October 10th, 2012, Todd took her last breath.
Though one could say that teens can just stay off social media platforms such Instagram and Facebook, social media is such a huge aspect of kids lives, it would seem impossible for them to let go of it. It is sometimes easier talk the talk, but not to walk the walk.
Despite this, there is something that we, as a community can do to put an end to the bullying epidemic in our community. For parents and teachers, try to get to know your children or students better, ask them about how their day went, and try to create an open environment where they feel comfortable discussing any potential bullying issues, and if you notice signs such as, loss in appetite, slipping grades, or a sudden swing in personality, keep a close eye out on your child, and if they are indeed enduring from bullying, the first thing that you should do as a parent is to console them and let them know you are there for them. The next step that you should take is to print out all the nasty stuff that peers say online as evidence. Bring this and your child’s or students issue to a counselor or the principal so that this issue can be resolved.
For those who are bystanders of bullying, do not be afraid to report this situation to an adult. This is not called tattling, it is called saving someone’s life. To all those in the audience that are being bullied, tell an adult about your situation. Do not think you can weather this situation on your own. Some situations require the support of others, and that is perfectly okay. When you can frustrated with the bullying, try writing your thoughts and feelings in a notebook, this should reduce the amount of stress. Most importantly, do not believe the lies that the bullies tell you, they only say it so that they can bring you down and bring themselves up.
Bullying is still a huge problem that can lead to very devastating effects. It is your duty, parents especially, to eradicate this deadly disease. American labor leader Randi Weingarten once said “You cannot be against bullying without actually doing something about it”. We cannot let a tragedy make us change, we need to make a change, so that we can prevent another tragedy.