Bullying has become a bigger problem in today’s society compared to a decade ago. In the TV news and in print we see stories that relate to bullying or how bullying affected the outcome of the events described. Bullying is becoming more talked about now that it has become a well-known problem, especially in schools.
The statistics prove as much, saying that in 2015 one out of every four students, which is 22% of the population, reported being bullied during the school year. In another study in 2013 on cyber bullying, 14.8% of students in high schools in the U.S. were bullied online and 90% of these students were also bullied offline.
Not only do some students not report being bullied but they also become affected in some other way. Some students suffer from anxiety, sleep difficulties, depression, begin to have academic problems, and in the worst cases, commit suicide. Students of color, disability, and LGBTQ are seen as students who suffer from bullying the most. The issue of bullying is important and should be addressed strongly to ensure a healthy school environment, mental health, and living style.
“I think people don’t think they are bullying someone at times,” says Michelle Nuenes, a student at John F. Kennedy High School. “Sometimes people can call someone a name and just trying to be funny, but that person may be affected in a different way, and this is bullying.”
In Sacramento, the issue of bullying is known and officials are constantly making sure it is addressed. In 2011, the Sacramento City School District started the “Creating Caring Schools” plan to address and give an extensive outline to address every aspect of bullying including policies, programs, and training of educators and adults. They created an anti-bullying policy for all schools in the district that states no student shall endure any harassment whatsoever, school officials should always be on the lookout for any type of bullying, the person implementing the harassment be educated on how their behavior is affecting others, and to always thoroughly investigate any problems of bullying before making any decisions of discipline. The district is also doing more like implementing bullying prevention programs at school such as providing training to adults, communities and parents about bullying and preventing it, and overall making the issue known school and district wide. SCUSD has seen a 25% decrease in bullying of students since the start of this program in their district and continue to make changes and improvements to their strategy and overall plan.
“As a teacher, I am always making sure my students are able to learn and come to school in a caring environment without bullying,” says Emily Sommer, teacher at John F. Kennedy High School. “I let my students know that bullying is wrong and to always treat others with respect, and if they ever need someone to talk to, I am always here.”
Many other programs outside the Sacramento community are reaching out to stop bullying too. The “I Am a Witness” program aims to the “silent majority” of kids who witness bullying but don’t know how to help. Their target is mostly with cyber bullying, by commenting their program’s “emoiji” of an eye whenever harassment is seen online or by hashtaging “#iamawitness” to speak up and show a person that they are doing wrong and also that someone is by the victim’s side if they’re getting bullied. They also have emoijis to spark a conversation for maybe a person who they saw someone being bullied and how to lend a helping hand and eye. Programs like these are small but can make a big difference for one or many people in need of support against bullying.
No one should ever be a victim of bullying. Always speak out against bullying, lend a hand to anyone you see being bullied, and think twice before you say something that may affect someone negatively.
May 4th is International Anti-Bullying Day and people are encouraged to wear a pink shirt to let others know that they stand against bullying!