Bullying Isn't Supposed To Happen

Bullying Isn't Supposed To Happen

Stop saying it's a part of childhood.
Jessica
Jessica
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I've been an impassioned, outspoken person about bullying. It seems like the issue will just never go away and just continues to get worse regardless of certain efforts by communities and even lawmakers. Many people argue it is just a part of childhood, and that it teaches children how to be "tough" and how to "face adversity". They argue it builds character and people will bully you as an adult, too. Well, to those people, is suicide also a fact of life? Do you consider suicide a "rite of passage" as much as bullying?

Recently in Staten Island, New York, a little boy committed suicide. He was 13 years old. His name was Daniel Fitzpatrick, and his parents have set up a GoFundMe account (consider donating). He had been bullied at a private Catholic school by numerous classmates. At 13, no kid should be thinking about committing suicide. The boy pictured told school officials who did not do anything to alleviate the bullying, telling him it will pass and not to worry. In other words, they essentially told him bullying is a fact of life. He is now deceased as a result of the blatant inaction.

Are you aware now of how dangerous the statement "bullying is a fact of life" really is?

Okay, I'm going to put this in different terms. Murder is a fact of life. Murder happens. People kill each other, daily, somewhere in the world. Does that mean when someone is murdered we look the other way, tell their loved ones it's a fact of life, and move on? Does that mean we don't hold the murderer accountable? Does that mean if someone goes to the police, and says, "I think I might be murdered by someone", we tell them it's a fact of life? It'll just pass, and don't worry?

No.

Bullying should not be treated any differently. Just because it's common does not mean it should be allowed to happen. Bullying, especially when suicidal ideations are involved, is a form of murder. Suicide is not an exceptional or rare response to bullying, either: a very large portion of bullying survivors either attempt or contemplate committing suicide (and in some cases, succeed). There is literally a Wikipedia article called: "List of suicides which have been attributed to bullying". I am sure that list is incomplete. This article includes names you have likely seen before or vaguely remember: Phoebe Prince. Tyler Clementi. Amanda Todd. David Molak. Perhaps the most interesting about that list, is that at least one of the people listed were no longer considered "children"; Tyler Clementi was 18 years old and in college. So if bullying is a part of childhood, why would it happen to an 18 year old in college?

Let me further explain: I am a bullying survivor. I love all the articles that say stuff like "Thank You To My Bullies", and "Bullying Made Me Stronger". Truly, I do. They might give people hope when there is no hope, and they might see their circumstances through or seek to change it. But let me also inform you of a few things.

True, traumatic bullying can actually change your brain chemistry. Bullying has long term effects into adulthood, such as anxiety, difficulty to form long lasting relationships, physical health issues, higher anxiety, and higher incidence of depression, to just name a few. You may also get lower grades well after the bullying has ended. They have difficulty trusting people. There are, of course, more effects that I have not listed. The dangerous way of thinking that "bullying is a fact of life" is literally helping people become traumatized - that is, of course, if they don't commit suicide. In other words, you shouldn't have to contemplate death to be "tough" or "face adversity". You shouldn't have live the rest of your life affected by what people did to you in elementary school because nobody would listen. There are other ways to become tough or grow as a person. Take up a hobby, maybe.

I can only hope with the national spotlight on such a young child who felt trapped by his pain can help change this way of thinking. Next time you say it's a fact of life, think of all the people you're telling there's no way out. Think of all the people you're telling there is nothing that can be done and they have to just deal with constant pain and harassment. Think of all the people who feel trapped and may resort to drastic measures.

Think of the preciousness of childhood, and that preciousness and that innocence being robbed of you, either through trauma or even death.

I don't know the right answer to stop bullying, but "it's a fact of life" isn't one of them.


Cover Image Credit: parade.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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