Bullying: It’s Effects on Politics, Children and Social Media

The greatest accomplishment of man is the written word. It is the most influential invention in history, with masterpieces of Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and Hemmingway, they all used the written word to it make something amazing. However there is a flipside to the written word. Bullying, using words to shame, put down, stereotype, and hurt others. It started on the playground, with comments said, like “fatso” or “fag” just because the child was different then the others. As adults bullying takes on a different form, it now belongs in social media, and this is where the written word takes on a darker aspect.

Lonely BoyIn an age where anyone can use the Internet to say whatever he or she wants, they think it gives the person the “right” to be rude, inconsiderate, and down right mean. Consider the celebrity, and the “mean tweet”; what gives the right for anyone to say anything about that celebrity? Especially if it involves hate? Just because they want to say it does not make it right.  Everyone is a critic, or at least they think they are. 

Then we consider the politician, because there are two parties in our political system you cannot please both parties. One side will be left wanting, while the others think that they “won.” With that said, the insults start being flung. Politicians have a bull’s-eye on their foreheads; they are the ones that have to make the unpopular decisions, they are the ones that have to make choices that go against someone else’s beliefs, moral code, or anything really. It does not take much to start the negativity flying.  

With Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it takes nothing to create an account, find the person, with whom you disagree and start with the writing. It starts small, “I do not like that fact you do not like dog parks.” But there is no response, so the writer gets angrier and so does the writing. “Well, because you hate dogs, you must hate everything else” there is still no response. Then it gets worse from there. “You think you know anything you stupid expletive, you dumb expletive,” that is bullying in cyber space.       

However it gets even worse from there, for example a child logs into Facebook, the child had a lice issue and was removed from class. The child already embarrassed and ashamed looks to friends to chat about how awful it was. However when the child logs in, they see a message from another child from their class. “You should kill yourself” the child blinks not believing what was written, just then a new message appears, “You should not come back to school, you’re dirty, and we do not want you there. Kill yourself” The child begins to cry. They child thinks they have nothing anymore, no friends, no support; they think they are completely alone.          

As parents we would like to think that you know every aspect of your child’s life and sadly that is not the case. Hopefully that child will speak out and tell someone of the bullying, but again that is not always the case. According to bullyingstatistics.org, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it. In addition bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University. And lastly a study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.

As adults, we hope we can make a difference, we hope that we can reach out to that troubled child and tell them that it will be ok and hope that they will believe us. It starts with just listing, and talking to your child. Getting to know their friends, understanding their behaviors, and just being there for them when the times get hard for any child. We must look to the next generation, as the next will look after the next and so on, it all had to stop. Get to know your child, understand when something is wrong. Understand that they may be the bullies, or the one being bullied. Once this dialogue begins is when we can start taking the right steps towards ending bullying.   

Author: Matt Thiry