Who’s Getting Bullied? Everyone…
LONG-TIME BOXING COACH, CHUCK HORTON, HAS SEEN THE ILL-EFFECTS OF BULLYING FIRSTHAND. HE HAS BEEN WORKING FOR YEARS TO EMPOWER TROUBLED CHILDREN AND TEENS WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF BULLYING. HE COMBATS BULLYING BY TEACHING THE KIDS OF DULUTH THE ART OF BOXING. CHUCK BELIEVES THAT BOXING, WHICH HELPS IMPROVE CONFIDENCE AND INSTILL DISCIPLINE, CAN SERVE AS AN ANTIDOTE TO THE TOXIC EFFECTS OF BULLYING. THIS IS THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF A 7-PART SERIES, AUTHORED BY ROXANNE WILMES, ABOUT THE PHENOMENON OF BULLYING, AND HOW IT NEGATIVELY EFFECTS BOTH ITS PERPETRATORS AND VICTIMS.
Although it’s no stranger to elementary or high school, bullying takes place most prominently in middle school. Coming from the smaller confines of elementary school, students at the tween age are thrust into the larger melting pot of junior high. They may be experiencing their first glimpse of diversity, they have rapidly changing brains and bodies, and they’re ill-equipped to deal with all that change simultaneously. Depending on what they’re taught at home, many see bullying as the only coping mechanism available.
Most children who are bullied have a shared commonality: they’re different in some way. Some of the more prominent characteristics of victims are having a disability or insecurity, displaying a perceived weakness or passive personality, they may get easily upset, or relate more to adults than other children. But the biggest demographic to experience bullying is the children who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender students. According to the website nobullying.com, 90% of LGBT youth are bullied.
However, it isn’t just the stereotypical socially awkward teen who gets bullied. A study in North Carolina claims that not only does bullying occur in “popular” social circles, but it affects those students harder than victims lower in the social hierarchy. It is sort of a bigger-they-are-harder-they-fall scenario.
When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. These kids have clawed past those on lower rungs of the popularity ladder. How comfortable can you feel in that status knowing that so many would like to see you come crashing down? Their peer group is filled with cattiness and backstabbing. And if you haven’t had a lifetime of practice warding off bullies, one incident could crush you.
Conversely then, if you follow this line of thinking, the less popular children (those typically the victims of bullying) would have fewer friends but stronger bonds. Perhaps their past experiences help to make them more resilient and enable them to stand up for each other instead of competing for higher social standing. They are comfortable in their decision to do what they like, even if that is not what is popular.
One demographic that is often left out of the conversation is the children who have the misfortune of developing early. Through no fault of their own, these kids are going through things that their peers are yet to experience. The young girl that is visibly physically maturing, the young boy who has a sudden growth spurt, or even the males who are first to grow facial or body hair, they’re all different. And being different is a common denominator in bullying.
One thing is certain; regardless of social standing, kids are still hesitant to turn in bullies. This is particularly the case with cyber bullying. Children are afraid that their torment may somehow lead their parents to take away the phone or computer, in an effort to reduce the opportunity for bullying. Or they may fear that their parents will see the evidence and wonder if the slander or doctored photo is really true. Leading most children to suffer in silence.