Most kids enjoy their youth growing up in a school system that provides them with friends, adults to look up to, and the resources to one day achieve their dreams. Unfortunately, there are thousands of examples each year where bullying has destroyed the lives of students before they ever really had a chance to be all that they strived for.
It is important to interpret two different ways that a student can be bullied growing up in school – bullying and cyberbullying (there is a major difference).
Bullying on school grounds is first and foremost direct. What this means is that when you are a victim of this type of bullying at school, generally it is done so publicly on school grounds in front of other students to see. In most cases, the instigator of the attack is openly bullying to create (in their eyes) a sense of power and social standing amongst their peers.
Something else to consider is the psychological mindset an individual who bullies others may have. For example, often times they bully to try and build up a strong persona but in reality, they are unstable in their own right and/or jealous of what others may have in life (more friends, better grades, etc.).
Many people assume that bullying refers to physical harm from one person to another – this is not always true. Although bullying can be physical (hitting, punching, shoving) it can also be verbal (teasing, name calling, gossip) or nonverbal (use of gestures and exclusion).
The act of cyberbullying, in comparison to direct face-to-face bullying, is one that can be done anonymously and generally occurs off school property. As a result, the degree of danger is substantially higher in these situations because of the unknown.
Cyberbullying allows people to not only hide their true identity, but also deflects away any potential warning signs. For example, a student may have many friends and good standing relationships with teachers but still engage in cyberbullying (thus making their behavior seem unjustified and hard to believe).
Ten years ago, Myspace and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) provided cyberbullies their first real resource to attack innocent victims through the web. Today, we have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (among others) that kids are not only using, but using at an earlier/less educated age. It is crucial to be aware that the technological world we live in can be a very dangerous one.
With more emphasis on educating on the issue of cyberbullying in our school systems, both students and faculty can identify potential bullying conflicts before they arise not only on school grounds in direct bully attacks, but off it as well with cyberbullying cases.
You can help end the fight against bullying. Join the conversation using the hashtags #StopBullying and #BeTheChange.