Bullying seems to have advanced at an alarming rate over the last couple of decades. In fact, I don’t remember any bullying during my school years. I am not saying that bullying did not exist, just that it was different and we often didn’t hear about it unless we were part of the situation. Bullying was more clear-cut, school yard antics that quickly ended when the school bell rang. I often saw the same kids that were fighting, running around laughing like friends the very next day.
Of course, bullying is different across the world, from school to school and never has the same effect or result to anyone that has been the victim of bullying. Today, bullying doesn’t just happen in the school yard. It follows you around on social media and it seems that the victim of bullying just can’t escape the torture.
My first experience with bullying was heartbreaking and tore my heart into pieces as I watched my daughter struggle with a group of her peers that decided that she was the perfect target. They didn’t target her at school, instead they attacked her on social media and blasted her publicly.
I was often the first person to see their attacks on social media, as I am that parent who has access to their teens social media accounts. I monitor very closely what my daughter posts and also what her friends reply back to her. I was horrified at most of the things that they discussed in their circle of friends. I think if a lot more parents monitored social media, there may be less of it happening right in front of us.
These kids bullied my daughter over a period of several months and pushing her into the dark and farther from herself. She was no longer the sweet loving, talkative and friendly child she once was. She changed, she internalized the words that the bullies used against her and she started to believe it. These words cut deep and fueled her anxiety and pushed her to her limits while she fought against her toughest bully, herself.
Bullying has become increasingly more popular in recent years as a method to gain attention and influence popularity within their own social crowds. The media replays shocking videos depicting extreme violence and/or harassment against individual where bystanders look and too often encourage it. We all see these videos on social media being shared dozens and dozens of times and going viral. Every time you watch or share one of these videos it enforces the bully’s strength and gratifies their behaviors.
We all need to take a stand against bullying and stop being by-standers. As parents, we need to teach our kids the dangers of bullying and ensure that we raise them to respect one another. As a community we need to band together and help those being bullied, stop being afraid and stop watching the bullying as it happens in front of us.
We need to stand tall and use our voices and talk about bullying,