Monday, March 25, 2013

Bullying or Teenage Drama?

After linking teen suicide to bullying, school administrators are now feeling pressure from the public to address bullying with a more aggressive approach. This political pressure has increased professional development for teachers and initiated bullying programs in schools, but has it changed the mindset of the adults involved?

Recently, a Texas student reported that two cheerleaders at a football game were calling her names and cussing at her on the field. Throughout the school week, these same two cheerleaders continued to harass and belittle the student, encouraging other students to join in their fun. After an investigation, the student was informed that their situation was deemed "normal teenage drama".

How did this administrator determine the difference between bullying and teenage drama? Where was the line drawn? Old-school protocols overlook teasing and rumors because they believe the saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" to be true. Tell that to the victims of suicide caused by relentless emotional bullying.

In the teenage world, words are everywhere and can be communicated across the school, city, state, and country within minutes through technology. A simple rumor can ruin a student's reputation, cause sleepless nights, isolate them from the general population, cause changes in personality, and project thoughts of suicide. The old-school definition of bullying must change!

Bullying is ANY behavior or words that an aggressor uses to make an individual feel uncomfortable and continues to repeat this behavior on a consistent basis. Therefore, teenage drama can be deemed bullying if the same student/s are repeating this behavior consistently against the same individual/s. If we still have administrators and teachers telling students to get over it or that it's normal teenage drama, the teacher training is not adequately covering all aspects of physical and emotional bullying. What if Child Protective Services only removed children with bruises and ignored the situations where a child was suffering emotionally?

We have to stand up and defend those who are constantly targeted whether it is physical or mental abuse.

Educational professionals need to recognize that the day of "sticks and stones" is over. If a student reports bullying, don't tell them to get over it and don't expose their problem to the class.

  • Take time to listen and care about them. 
  • Report it to your campus principal and counselor.
  • Be vigilant to watch out for any further bullying or retaliation. 

Victims of bullying need to feel supported and cared for by their teachers and peers. If not, we are responsible for the loss of life; whether it is taken through suicide or diminished self-worth.

Take a stand against bullying!

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