Bullying. It’s a word we’ve known our entire lives but it’s taken on a whole new meaning over the last few years. By definition, a bully is a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people. While this explanation is true, it verbally does not do justice to the events taking place in schools throughout the United States and the world.
New Jersey has been a leader in establishing strong regulations and policies as a means to combat bullying before the repercussions become dire. The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, considered the toughest legislation of its kind regarding this topic, was propelled by the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman student at Rutgers University. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after discovering his roommate had tape recorded his relationship with another man. Clementi’s death sparked international outrage and shed light on an issue that could not be ignored.
The reality is a bully is no longer just the older kid in school who steals the underclassman’s lunch money. Today, the bully is the person held, on some level, responsible for many of the tragic deaths taking place by one’s own hands. We know the outcome of failing to take action but how do we begin to eradicate the act of bullying entirely? While ending the teasing, taunting, and name calling may be ambitious, teaching our youth to be compassionate, understanding, and empathetic is an important place to start. Judgment is cancer of the soul and the quicker it spreads, the harder it is to alleviate the pain felt by those on the receiving end of the antagonizing.
Prevention is critical and must be taught both in the home and in the educational institutions. No tolerance policies must be enforced and the lines of communication must remain open to ensure those who are tormented feel comfortable speaking up. Everyone involved in the bullying episodes are impacted, whether is the one doing the bullying or the one on the receiving end of the taunts, and all parties must be addressed. Supporting those involved and showing a united front within the community will ensure the effects and the aftermath are minimal. For more information on how you can be apart of the movement to stop bullying, visit www.stopbullying.gov and http://www.kidpower.org/library/article/prevent-bullying/. Both sites have very valuable information on how you can be a part of the change.