Bullying negatively affects students

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Bullying negatively affects students

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Almost every person has been involved in some form of bullying, whether that be receiving, giving, or just viewing from the sidelines. The negative effects of bullying are pervasive in many students’ lives. The question is, what can we do to prevent, and respond to bullying?

There are three main types of bullying: cyber-bullying, physical, and in-person emotional bullying. Northwest counselor Michael Marshall elaborates.

“There is just typical in person—physical or emotional. Physical like kick you, punch you, trip you, steal your lunch and throw it on the roof. Emotional more call you names, make you feel bad.”

These examples seem obvious, and you may assume this is the most frequent, but in reality, they aren’t the most recurring observation. 

“The most common that we see is cyber-bullying, which is anything done through electronics,” Marshall said. “The thing about cyber-bullying that a lot of students don’t think about is once upon a time if you were getting bullied in school, when you went home, the bullying stopped, probably no one was bullying you at your house. However now, if you get bullied at school, when you go home, the bullying goes with you.”

Not only can cyber-bullying travel home with students, the potential anonymity for the antagonizer can bolster them and increase bullying even more. Northwest administrator Wendy Farrow has been involved in identifying, preventing, and responding to many instances of violence and bullying throughout her career, and agrees that cyber-bullying is the most detrimental for students.

“It (cyber-bullying) gives the person the ability to remain anonymous if they wish to, to have the protection of the keyboard and the screen empowers them to feel like they can say whatever they want. And they end up saying things that they might not have the courage to say or the gall to say to someone face to face.”

Everyone has the right to go through their school day just doing the best they can. They should not have to be dealing with bullying of any sort. ”

— Counselor Michael Marshall

The negative effects of any type of bullying are long-lasting and influence all parts of a student’s life.

“It has tremendous ramifications at school, where something might escalate because other students have seen it. And then the student who’s being bullied is embarrassed,” Farrow said. “It often leads to students feelings of self worth really plummeting and students even considering suicide.”

Junior Skye Handley was on the receiving end of bullying in the beginning of her highschool career. 

“For me, I shut down,” Handley said. “My freshman and sophomore year I did not talk to anybody. I had very few friends. I stayed in this close little bubble in each of my classes.”

Bullying can also affect the academic performance of the student.

“We often see students afraid to participate in class because they’re afraid that someone might bully them for something they’re saying, or laugh at them or embarrass them. They shut down academically which is not good for them because if they’re not able to ask a question in class, then they’re not getting their questions answered. Then we see their grades start failing. Parents often note that they see behavior changes in their students. A student who was maybe once outgoing, friendly and happy will become withdrawn, maybe not want to talk.”

What steps can we take to help respond to bullying?

For school counselors, they serve to resolve volatile situations between students through communication.

“If it is bullying, especially physical, almost always goes to administration because that is breaking the school rule. In certain cases, if it can be rectified through mediation, then that’s where a counselor comes into play,” Marshall said. “To try to mediate a situation between two or more students  who might be engaging in bullying behavior to see if we can come to a more harmonious end.’

In the case of repeated offenses of bullying, then administration takes charge.

“Our role is to always be here, when a student is being bullied, just like the counselors to be a sounding board,” Farrow said. “A lot of times students will come in and they want to talk about it, but they don’t necessarily want us to do anything about it because they don’t want the bully to know that they snitched. So in that case, our hands are a little bit tied, but we have to start keeping an eye on the situation and informing teachers what’s going on, and asking teachers to report anything that they see.”

One of the main difficulties when attempting to stop instances of bullying is the fear of being a “snitch.”

“I think the biggest problem is this reticence to come forward and report,” Farrow said. “It seems like the biggest evil here at the school is the worst thing you could possibly be as a snitch. So students will put up with being bullied for a very, very, very long time until it gets to a breaking point for them until they actually report it, because if they do report it they’re labeled a snitch, and then they have to worry about retaliation.”

The best thing to do if you are the victim, or a witness to bullying is to speak up.

“We have to get rid of the stigma about reporting, because reporting it, so the adults know what’s going on is the only way that we’re able to prevent it or or stop it. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Speak out against bullying. Making your voice heard is the only way things are going to get better, for you, and your peers. 

“Everyone has the right to go through their school day just doing the best they can,” Marshall said. “They should not have to be dealing with bullying of any sort. If someone is having this happen to them, or they’re witnessing it, they just need to let us know and we one-hundred percent will address it.”