Maggie Smith / Uncategorized

An Answer for Bullies (Maggie Smith)

Chances are, you’ve been bullied at some point in your life. Chances are also good that the effects of the bullying have stayed with you in some way. Bullying can ruin your life, or a good part of your childhood years. It’s tough to go through days of school feeling like you’re the outcast or you’re unwanted in groups for whatever reason.

But is being bullied a rite of passage that the majority of children and young adults must go through and survive? How difficult is it to prevent bullying — and has it been made even more difficult to prevent because of the prevalence of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter?

Bullying is part of the source of blame for events like Columbine, and just recently, it has been the cause of the deaths of two 10-year-old girls. Both girls were being bullied at school and ended their own lives because they felt as though they could not escape the threat of their tormentors.

Jasmine McClain, of Chadbourn, North Carolina, hanged herself after being bullied. The other children teased her “about her clothes and her shoes.” The most alarming part of Jasmine’s story is that social media seems to have played a part in it. Classmates from her elementary school were stepping forward on Facebook to make accusations that Jasmine was, in fact, bullied. Chadbourn Elementary School is currently conducting an investigation about the true cause of Jasmine’s suicide — whether it was linked to bullying or some other factors.

A few days before, in Ridge Farm, Illinois, Ashlynn Conner also hanged herself. Ashlynn’s grandmother said her granddaughter had complained that other students had been calling her “fat, ugly and a slut.” Bear in mind, this girl was only 10 years old! It’s difficult to think about other children being so cruel and driving her to doing the unthinkable.

What can be done to prevent deaths like Jasmine’s and Ashlynn’s? Have stricter restrictions on Facebook for those under 13? Create better laws against bullying?

The existing anti-bullying law in North Carolina was finalized and signed in 2009 and it states that “each local school administrative unit shall adopt a policy prohibiting bullying or harassing behavior.”

But how are schools supposed to stop bullying when it flies under the radar so often? Many children and teens who are bullied keep their anguish inside where it steadily builds up and nobody realizes how badly they are hurting. A lot of bullying instances occur on social media sites, which cannot be readily policed by school officials, teachers and parents.

An anti-bullying law was also signed in Illinois in 2010. Similar to the North Carolina law, it says, “Each school district… shall create and maintain a policy on bullying… must communicate its policy on bullying to its students and their parent or guardian on an annual basis. The policy must be updated every 2 years and filed with the State Board of Education after being updated.”

These laws were signed and created with the best of intentions, but it doesn’t seem like they’re doing their job of preventing bullying. Perhaps they are not enforced as well as they should be, or maybe it is because bullying is a matter that children are often hesitant to talk about or report to authority, for fear that it might make bullying worse. No matter what, no child or teen should feel so bad about their life that they feel that they should end everything. Something must be done.

What are your thoughts on bullying? Do you think there are better ways to enforce the anti-bullying laws that exist?

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