Bullying in the News

Posted on March 15, 2011

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Rafiat Kasumu / News

Race. Sexuality. Socioeconomic class. These are only a few of the many reasons why teens in American schools are being bullied. Bullying has become a widespread epidemic in our country’s school system. Way too often do we turn on our televisions or browse the internet to be met with new headlines detailing the tragic suicide of a student due to bullying or cell phone videos that recount the abuse of a teen. According to Family First Aid, an estimated 30 percent of teens in the United States have either been involved in bullying as the targeted victim, bully, or both. Of these 5.7 million students, 160,000 are afraid to go to school each year in fear of verbal or physical abuse from their classmates.

Despite the various help websites and resources available to teens in these sad circumstances, these numbers only seem to grow as we witness news headlines becoming more and more frequent and regional. In the beginning of February our local news providers swamped us with the story of a bullied 13-year-old in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Seven of the boy’s classmates punched, kicked, and dragged the boy through the snow after school one day. The defenseless teen was subjected to a 30 minute beating in which no local citizens stopped despite the boy’s cry for help. After the beating, the seven boys hung their victim by the jacket on a seven-foot-high fence. Later, the boy was taken down by a good Samaritan. The worst part of this whole ordeal was that technology played a role in the broadcast of this young teen’s humiliation; the whole incident was recorded by a video-enabled cell phone.
The proximity of this bullying incident reminds us that our community is not exempt from such acts of pure brutality. Throughout the news we have witnessed how the stress and peer-pressure from bullying can lead students to even take their own life. Take, for example, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who was bullied to death in October of last year. Tyler jumped of the George Washington Bridge after another college student secretly video-taped Tyler committing a sex act in the privacy of his own room. What’s even worse about this situation was that this unspeakable viral video ousted the young teen’s homosexuality. Tyler was a victim of anti-gay cyber bullying.
Tyler’s story not only brought thousands of Rutgers students together to reflect upon the consequences of bullying, as well as thousands of Americans who neglected to see these devastating consequences. Tyler Clementi was not the only victim of cyber-bulling the news reported on last year. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, almost half of teens experience cyber-bullying some time in their lifetime and about 10 to 20 percent of them experience it on a regular basis.
Phoebe Prince was one of these teens. In January of 2010 this 15-year-old student took her own life in her South Hadley, Massachusetts home. The student was harassed via Facebook in which her classmates wrote harsh messages and threats on her wall. At school, the teen was verbally abused by classmates and frequently had items such as drink containers hurled at her. After one day of unrelenting bullying, the Phoebe walked home, went into her closet, and suffocated herself.
Although the 13-year-old boy in Upper Darby, Tyler Clementi, and Phoebe Prince are only three teens who suffered through bullying, thousands of more have as well. Bullying is becoming a way too common of an epidemic in our nation, claiming the lives of thousands of teens. If you see someone being bullied, try to stop it. You never know if one comment could send a student off the edge and be the last thing they hear before taking their own life.

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Posted in: News