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Bullying: Two Sides to One Story

Spencer Parker

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Bullying: Two Sides to One Story

Jarida Lily Hess, Editor/Contributor

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An act that has plagued everywhere from schools and workplaces to normal streets you drive by on your way home, bullying remains something committed by many at the expense of others. According to Wynne High School’s updated bullying statistics, most report not ever having experienced the treatment that affects bullied kids. As we begin to unfold the sensitive subject most people tend to shy away from, two students reveal harsh treatment they have experienced at WHS involving verbal and cyberbullying.

Wynne High School principal Keith Watson takes time to define bullying, saying “In my words, it would be intentional, repeated acts where one person is doing harm to another person physically, verbally, or by a cyber means. This could be something insulting or demeaning but is disruptive to the student being able to learn.”

During his interview, Principal Watson provided various statistics with information collected from surveys students had done at school; these surveys demonstrated that many of the students do not experience bullying or take part in it. In fact, by the given statistic standards, WHS bullying rates continue to drop.

However, if you ask sophomore student Shanoah Lopp whether she believes bullying increases or decreases frequently, she points immediately to increasing rates: “It is increasing every day because people are getting less and less concerned because it’s so common.” Bullying can range anywhere from a snarky comment to a fist in the face, affecting everyone badly.

Principal Watson even took the time to say this about how often bullying occurs, replying “I would love to be able to say that I think it’s rare, but that would be naïve. I also don’t think it’s something that is happening daily either.”

Lopp has mostly seen verbal bullying cases, though an anonymous contributor says they have seen around 50 physical fights from intermediate school to now.

The problem with these conflicting statistics and first-hand accounts lies with the number of people who do not report cases of bullying that they either see or have a part in. According to stopbullying.gov, only 20-30% of students bullied report it to adults. Scared to come forward in fear of retaliation, students hide rather than report their abuse. The Wynne School systems all have a safe school helpline where students can report to about things they have seen. Principal Watson also added to this, saying “Of course, if there is ever any evidence of retaliatory problems for the victim the discipline does increase.”

Now there’s a hot topic burning holes in everyone’s mind when it comes to things like bullying: discipline. Page 12 of the WHS Student Handbook specifically outlines each and every danger regarding bullying, as well as stating that every student should expect a safe school life: ACT 907 of 2011 of the Arkansas General Assembly finds that “every school student in this state has the right to receive his or her public education in a public educational environment that is reasonably free from…threat of harm by another student.” Punishment ranges from the minimum penalty of a reprimand to the maximum penalty, which garners the need for expulsion. However, many feel that no punishment can change what bullied people go through every day.

An anonymous student went on to say that they experience bullying at least once a week and afterward they feel hopeless: “I feel like I can’t breathe. I don’t know how to handle it, and for some reason, I get really embarrassed.” This student went on to talk about how bullying has negatively affected their mental stability, revealing that the bullying they have experienced has led them to develop depression and anxiety, even continuing to say “that the people who do want to listen are only being paid to listen. A lot of people don’t even want to listen.”

Lopp says “Well, there are a lot of kids at school who disagree with a lot of stuff that I do; it’s just that’s how people are. So I usually get bullied on my looks and on the way I act around certain people. I was just bullied verbally. It’s so easy to get away with that. Bones can heal but words are something that stays with you forever.”

According to the National Education Association, as many as 160,000 kids in the U.S. do not go to school for fear of bullying. Lopp, in reply to this statistic, goes on to say “I mean, it’s only high school right? But no, it just might get to a point where it gets out of high school because bullying is not just a school thing. Apparently, it’s out of school too. When is it supposed to end? What if you can’t run away?”

Judging often for the characteristics and physical appearance of others, people come to accept less of what makes diversity special: difference. Unfortunately, diversity remains a big issue when it comes to bullying. According to stopbullying.gov, 15% of high school students experienced cyberbullying, compared to LGBTQ+’s 55.2%. An outraged anonymous student, after hearing this statistic, took to insisting on saying this: “I really just think people should mind their own business. It shouldn’t matter if you’re black, white, gay straight, short, or tall. It shouldn’t matter what you look like. We’re all just people!”

One anonymous parent used the interview to their advantage, proposing possible solutions to bullying, saying “I mean honestly, there are many paths that the schools can take. I, for one, would love to maybe see an anger management class put into place for the kids. Also, I would not object to the students receiving extra counseling based on reports from teachers and students. This way the kids might begin to feel like they are more cared for.”

Feeling pressured, cornered, and uncared for, many students come to contemplate suicide and self-harm from the bullying they receive from their peers at school. Even a snarky comment or a side glance can change someone’s positive mindset into something nasty that may persuade them to feel worse about themselves or persuade them into feeling worse about others. Though bullying can stop very quickly, many still come to face bullying from others with no interventions. When intervened, bullying can stop within 10 seconds 57% of the time, according to stopbullying.gov. Use those 10 seconds to save someone’s life and pull them back from the edge.
For more information on bullying, you can visit the website link: https://www.stopbullying.gov/

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