Bullying as a epidemic

This week one of the storylines on one of my soaps comes to a head, and I’ve been pondering on this subject for a while now.

On One Life To Live, the writers have been tackling bullying and cyberbullying–the young man at the center of it has given up on things getting better and is taking drastic measures to get them to stop; as of Tuesday’s episode, his parents were attempting to talk him down from the high school’s roof.

Storyline logic difficulties aside, I know that this is a subject that needs to be addressed and discussed.  Anytime the White House has a panel on the subject, it must be pretty serious.  But I’m at a loss to fully understand.  Bullying has been a problem for ages–I wasn’t particularly targeted but I do know what it’s like to be picked on and thought of as an outcast.  Even drove me to a suicide attempt (luckily, my intense allergy to pain kept that from happening).

I don’t fully understand the cyber aspect–coming from my generation, I could at least escape any tormenting endured at school once I got home.  Today’s kids get barraged on their cell phones, Facebook and web pages, YouTube, etc.  Some of these taunts have been serious enough to drive kids to successfully end their lives.  I know that it feels like the end of the world when everyone is pointing at you, saying and doing horrible things to make teenage life seemingly unbearable.  What I don’t know is why these particular taunts are so damaging.

I know a lot of people who believe in the “man up” or “woman up” theory–teaching kids to stand up for themselves and to not take the harsh comments of their peers so much to heart, and to some degree I can see the merit in that.  I would think that standing up to the bully or bullies in question, or even reported them to the adults in charge, would begin to take away that power, thus empowering and transforming the victims into their own champions.  Maybe I need to talk to a teenager to get a better perspective.

I’ll be doing some more research into this, so there will definitely be another blog to come….feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts.

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