Bullying is nothing new. For as long as there has been interaction between people there have always been instances where one person or group tries to harass, intimidate, or exert authority over another. When we were kids, we never really called it anything. It had no name. Sure, we knew what a bully was, but that title was reserved for the worst of the worst repeat offenders. When we were kids if we got picked on, called names or teased, usually we were told to suck it up, take it like a man (if applicable) or fight back. Typically, nine times out of ten, the whole thing would blow over in a couple of weeks, maybe more quickly than that.
Today, bullying is a buzz-word. It’s a trending topic on Twitter. It’s the subject of documentaries and after school specials (or whatever the modern-day equivalent is). If kids and teens have it easier in many ways today than they did when we were young, thanks to iPhones, computers, later curfews, and cooler stuff, then they also have a tougher road when it comes to bullying. Today, if a kid wants to hurt or discredit you, they don’t walk up to you on the street and call you names, they post it on their ‘wall’. Instead of teasing you, they put nasty rumors or pictures of you on the internet for the world to see. Bullying has evolved. The modern-day bully uses social media and technology to taunt their victims, to gain their own popularity, and a host of other reasons. The problem is, most of the time, bullies grow up. People mature and move on. Back in the day, these things were long forgotten by the time we were out on our own. Today’s victims, and even today’s bullies, are forced to live with the repercussions of these situations for years to come. What’s out there is out there for good. You can hit delete on a mean tweet, erase a nasty post, or trash an unflattering photo, but the truth is, those things never really go away. They exist somewhere… somewhere out there in the world, forever.
HOW OLD ARE YOU AND WHAT GRADE ARE YOU IN?
I’m 13 and in 7th grade.
DO YOU SEE MUCH BULLYING, MUCH OF KIDS PICKING ON EACH OTHER AT SCHOOL?
Not much. A little.
YOUR SCHOOL IS 6TH-8TH GRADES?
WHAT GRADE DO YOU THINK IT HAPPENS IN THE MOST?
Probably 6th grade.
THAT’S SURPRISING. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
I think 6th graders are new to middle school. They maybe are trying to look cool or fit in and don’t know how.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO BULLY SOMEONE?
Calling people names, hitting, saying mean stuff about someone, spreading rumors, that kind of stuff.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT IS JUST “NORMAL” KID BEHAVIOR, THAT IT’S JUST KIDS BEING KIDS?
I don’t think it’s ever okay to be like that to anyone. That’s not what being a kid is. Kids hang out and have fun and do stuff. They aren’t supposed to hurt people and act mean on purpose.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER KIDS TEASED EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME AND IT ALWAYS BLEW OVER AND EVERYTHING WAS FORGIVEN USUALLY IN A DAY OR TWO. DO YOU THINK IT’S HARDER FOR KIDS NOW?
Now it’s easier to say stuff behind a screen or on an app than to say it to people’s face. They can just say stuff and then delete it like it never happened. Being behind the screen makes you feel like you can say stuff you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THAT STUFF THOUGH? WHY IS IT EVEN WORSE TO BE BULLIED NOWADAYS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE?
People can screenshot what they say and show it to people or put it on their walls and stuff. And it’s out there forever.
DID YOU SEE MORE BULLYING WHEN YOU WERE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL OR NOW THAT YOU ARE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL?
Not really more in elementary school. Well, I mean maybe a little bit but no one really took it seriously. It wasn’t about serious stuff. Elementary school kids are less mature so they might do stuff that is now considered bullying but really at that age they don’t know better.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN EXPERIENCING MUCH BULLYING IN YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS WHICH IS A GOOD THING. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
We all know each other. We all grew up together and we live in the same neighborhood. Not everyone is friends, but no one really bullies anyone. Even if you fight, you make up.
WHAT ABOUT ONLINE? I KNOW YOU’RE SOCIAL MEDIA IS LIMITED AT 13, BUT DO YOU SEE MUCH OF IT GOING ON THERE?
Not really. Not a lot. Not with my friends, but with other people that I don’t really know.
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK ABOUT BULLYING?
That people shouldn’t have to hurt others to try to make themselves feel better.
WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY KIDS RECENTLY HAVE TRIED HURTING THEMSELVES OR EVEN KILLING THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY WERE BEING BULLIED FOR A LONG TIME?
They probably thought that it was so out of hand that no one would ever forget what was said about them. They probably thought that it would never end, not really thinking that stuff like that usually goes away.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM IF YOU COULD, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM TO DO?
No matter how bad it seems, I really believe it will get better. Ignore as much as you can. Delete the comments. Walk away. Talk to an adult.
DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS MORE BULLYING BETWEEN GIRLS AND GIRLS, BOYS AND BOYS, BOYS AND GIRLS, OR IS IT ALL THE SAME?
Girls. Girls and girls because they always have more drama!
Tomorrow we’ll find out if the boys agree with that sentiment when we speak to a 7th grade boy to get his perspective on these same questions.