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A world of bullies

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While this month gets a lot of attention in pink due to it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, bullying is just as important of an issue and it truly impacts a large part of our society.

For many of us, we can’t sit back and say we’ve never bullied someone. For many of us, we can’t sit back and say we’ve never been bullied. In my case, I know I have done both. I, to this day, still despise the bullying I suffered at the hands of two girls in seventh grade. And, judging by her glares in a chance meeting, the girl I bullied myself one year hasn’t quite gotten over it yet either.

I was part of bullying in the days where computers and phones didn’t play a part. We picked on each other during school hours. At night, we got a break. To some degree, when I was a child not so long ago, bullying was wrong, but not as damaging as it is today. That says something given we still don’t forgive our bullies.

Today, more and more stories are coming out about children who are being bullied so much that they can’t take it anymore, they don’t believe there is an outlet, and end up committing suicide.

In a recent news report, two Florida girls, ages 12 and 14, were arrested for bullying a classmate who recently committed suicide. This victim, who would be 13 years old this week, saw no other way out. She jumped from a building, killing herself. Her alleged bullies were arrested for merely stalking. As the sheriff explained, it’s the only thing he could charge the girls with and if he could, the parents would also be charged.

Imagine being the parent of the victim. She was forced to change schools, her mother probably told her things would get better. However, through social media, the two bullies allegedly continued, telling her things such as “drink bleach and die”. How, as a parent, can you tell your daughter things will get better when you’ve relocated, changed schools and still nothing has changed?

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the parents of the girls who bullied this girl. Based on early news reports, they have been less than cooperative with police. These parents have not stopped their daughter from posting online, including an incredibly incriminatory statement, which basically says she has little remorse that someone died.

We live in a society where digital outlets are allowing our children to pick on each other after school hours. The tactics can be relentless and we adults may not be aware that our child, or child’s friends are being overwhelmed by another student, or group of students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly a third of all students aged 12 - 18 reported having been bullied at school, some almost daily.

As more awareness is being raised about bullying, I’ve noticed school districts taking it a lot more seriously over the years. However, it’s still not enough. We have students being bullied because of sexual preference, students less popular who are bullied by athletes and in cases such as this recent example – over a boy.

While we as parents have to keep an eye on our child’s online activities for their own safety when it comes to dating and other activities – we must also keep a watchful eye to see if they are being bullied, or if they are the ones doing the bullying. We as parents must also be responsible in taking action and stopping our child from being the bullies, or doing whatever we can to shield our child from the bullies.

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