Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Bullying is as easy as a simple click of the mouse. Social networking sites like the anonymous question chat rooms called Ask.fm and Formspring have actually led to the suicides of nine teens so far.
The most recent suicide on Aug. 2, 2013 was of Hannah Smith, age 14, who was found hanging by her sister. Hannah had to continuously suffer under the wrath of her anonymous tormentors via Ask.fm. Among the numerous comments on her site were: “everyone would be happy if you died” and “drink bleach.”
I remember when Formspring first started coming out my freshman year in high school. Many hurtful things were posted because it was so easy hiding their face behind a screen. Just recently, Ask.fm, very similar to Formspring, has become more popular among underclassmen in high school.
One of the founders of Ask.fm, Mark Terebin, provided a response when the sudden rash of suicides broke out. “It’s not about the site; the problem is about education, about moral values that were devaluated lately,” he states. He also claims that Ask.fm is simply just another social networking site used to communicate with one another.
Many aim their attention at students in middle school and high school, where a majority of bullying takes place. However, many cases have occurred outside of those environments as well. In 2009, a Missouri woman posted photos and the cell phone number of a 17 year old girl on Craigslist asking for sexual encounters. Another case, at the college level, involved a man who recorded his gay roommate being intimate with another man and held a viewing party of it with his friends. These stories are just the beginning of the horror of bullying today.
The word “bully” has been around since the 1530s, but times were simpler back then. The classic “give me your lunch money, punk” bully is not around quite as much as the anonymous tweeter/blogger writing hateful things about someone online is. A shocking 58% of kids have reported that they have experienced this type of bullying. Also, another 21% of kids reported that they have received threatening messages.
One in twelve teens have attempted suicide, and about one in six teens have had suicide cross their minds. These numbers are staggering and will continue to rise until we come together to find a solution.
As a high school student, my school held yearly assemblies informing us about the consequences of bullying. These were not the type of assemblies where kids nod off and drool. These assemblies actually received everyone’s attention. Throughout the assembly they flashed the faces of young kids who have committed suicide due to bullying on the big screen. We saw so many faces, so many lives that could have easily been prevented if only someone knew how powerful their words and actions could be.
I truly believe the assemblies that we attended were beneficial. There are countless anti-bullying organizations well prepared to tackle this problem head on, they just need our attention and assistance. Many experts concur that educating and spreading the word about bullying is the best way to actually put an end to it instead of just passing it on to the next generation.
Leading experts in bullying offer great advice on some ways for one to avoid becoming a victim. First, present yourself with confidence and a positive attitude. Bullies crave attention and the feeling of superiority over another, so they target someone who they know will be easy for them to tear down. Second, choose your friends wisely. Friends are there to support you and watch your back; they are not supposed to discourage you or lessen your worth and potential.
The National Education Association reported the alarming statistic that about 160,000 kids stay home from school everyday in fear of being bullied. It is unacceptable that our government has not put this problem as a priority on their agenda. Education, especially for children, is just too important nowadays.
Educating kids now on the importance of bullying through assemblies and providing them with details about the long-term effects that it can have on someone is the best solution. It is a shame that some kids are too frightened to attend their own school. School should be a safe haven for young minds to grow and develop into the next leaders of our country, the doctors that will find a cure to cancer, and the teachers that will someday be teaching our own kids.
Shannon Mitchel is a first-year student majoring in athletic training. She can be reached at SM801888@wcupa.edu. 

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