By JOSH KENNEDY
Children are taught that if they are being bullied, the best way to make it stop is to tell someone. But this doesn’t work, as adults don’t know how to deal with bullies.
As a victim myself, I have first-hand knowledge. Once, when I was in the eighth grade, I told my teacher about a boy who bashed my head against a chalkboard and all he did was ask me, “What do you want me to do about it?”
This was the main theme in the documentary, Bully, which centred on a number of stories about different children who were being bullied. One young boy was harassed on his school bus. The other children would punch him, throw stuff at him and one older boy even threatened to slit the boy’s throat. The boy’s parents found out and went to the school’s principal, but she said there was nothing she could do about it.
Adults need to think of ways to stop bullying because some children cannot handle the pressure of being picked on and have been driven to suicide. A study at Yale University found victims are between two and nine per cent more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. Another recent study found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying, with girls 10 to 14 years of age having the highest risk.
Sometimes victims take matters into their own hands and take drastic measures to make the tormenting stop. This was one of the reasons for the Columbine High School massacre, where in 1999, two students who were bullied, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went to the school with guns and murdered 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives.
Sometimes it’s not the victim who tries to get revenge, but the victim’s parents. In 2008, a mother in Oshawa attacked a 15-year-old girl after hearing that she had been bullying her 13-year-old daughter. The mother went to the bully’s home, grabbed her by the hair and started punching and kicking her before pulling out a knife and stabbing her in the abdomen. The bully was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries while the mother was charged with aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon.
There are ways to stop bullying without resorting to violence. According to WebMD, a parent can tell when their child is bullying someone else by the following signs: their child comes home from school with extra money or new toys, books or clothes, they are cruel or mean when talking about other children and they exclude other children from activities. This situation must be discussed as soon as possible before the behaviour becomes routine. It may be that the child is being bullied themselves and is taking it out on others or they may not yet know the importance of understanding other’s feelings.
Bullying is a serious situation and it has to be stopped before others get hurt. In 2012, Ontario became the third province in Canada to implement anti-bullying legislation. It is time other provinces stepped up too.