This article is part of an ongoing series on bullying in schools in response to Louisiana being named the state where school bullying is most prevalent by Wallethub.com.
When discussing bullying in schools, the conversation often focuses on what parents and educators define bullying as.
The attempts at solutions are sometimes made without really understanding what sort of bullying is going on among modern students.
An anonymous student recently reached out and wanted to express their thoughts, experiences and what they witness in their school.
For the purposes of this interview, the student will be referred to as “Student X.”
Student X is a male high school student who wanted to share what he has witnessed in his school, in an attempt to make those not connected to the school system aware of what high school bullying is in 2018.
Student X emphasized that many people don’t quite realize what kind of bullying goes on, or how it is handled by the schools.
“Bullying is when someone is being intentionally hurt physically or emotionally on a day to day basis. It happens to more students than people realize and the reasons are more complicated than people realize,” he said.
Student X said that there are many common stereotypes as to who gets bullied and who doesn’t.
“A lot of people think of bullying as someone from the football team picking on someone who isn’t athletic. While that does happen, that’s not the only way it occurs in our school. I’ve seen people on the football team get bullied. It is the people who stand out as different in their personality who get bullied the most.” Student X said.
He explained that he noticed two students who share a similar social background, similar likes and similar interests. He noted that despite all the things they had in common one student repeatedly ridiculed the other student, and told people to not associate with him because he was “weird.”
Student X said that the only notable difference he noticed between the two was that the victim was more timid than the bully.
In Student X’s opinion, he believes that bullies do what they do to gain the approval of bystanders.
Often bullies will publicly torment other students to get the approval of their peers.
“Bullies are the ones you typically see that are trying to get someone else’s approval,” Student X said. “It’s always public. It’s always loud. It’s intended to get everyone to laugh.”
He also stated that those who bully other students don’t believe it’s wrong and doesn’t really fear any sort of punishment.
“They’ll come back from ISS and brag about how much they slept, and they never act like they did anything wrong. They come right back out and continue bullying.”
Another issue raised by Student X is that he noticed a significant number of teachers who are apathetic and indifferent to bullying incidents that go on right in front of them.
“I know teachers that see it and don’t do anything,” he said. “I have seen some teachers just stand by while it's happening right in front of them. Sometimes they will even look the other way and try to ignore it.”
Student X also pointed out that there are teachers that do step in and try to intervene in a bullying situation, but ultimately the bully will just target the student when the teacher is not around.
Studies are finding that high percentages of bullying incidents also result in higher truancy rates, and lower academic performance. Student X commented on this stating that he has seen and heard of students stay home from school to avoid bullying. He gave a specific story of a situation at his school.
“I know someone that claimed that he was sick for a week, and stayed home from school. He did that because another student consistently bullies him,” said Student X. “He doesn’t really pay attention in class anymore and it’s obvious why. He used to raise his hand to ask a question in class. Now every time he does, the other student makes fun of him and the class erupts with laughter.”
Many groups including lawmakers, education leaders, and parents have given their opinion on how to reduce the number of bullying incidents at local schools.
Student X feels that many of the solutions that people try fall flat for a wide variety of reasons.
He stated he believed that students should do everything they can to build up their self-confidence and to stand up for themselves.
He explained that when teachers, parents and other students try to help out someone being bullied, the victim usually gets treated worse because of it.
“I think that students have to learn to stand up for themselves. When a teacher steps in it always seems to make things worse for the kid being bullied. They always get a harder time. If another student stands up for a kid being bullied,” said Student X.
“The kid being bullied has a harder time. Students at some point have to learn to stand up for themselves because no one else is helping them, and the type of help they get makes things worse for them. Even if the person originally bullying the victim stops doing that the kid will get labeled a snitch and be bullied by others.”
Sadly, Student X sees no immediate solution to the bullying problem at the high school level. He believes that programs and initiatives designed to curb bullying will be largely ignored by students and not be fully effective due to the lack of cooperation from students.
“The people that I know who consistently bully the same people every day only really listen to their parents, and sometimes not even that,” Student X said. “No education is going to make them change if they really don’t want too.”
He closed the interview on a higher note stating that if a change was going to happen in the schools’ attention needed to be focused on teaching students at the elementary level about how to communicate with each other better, identify the root cause of bullying behavior and to carry themselves respectfully.
“If you start as early as possible to address bullying issues and behaviors maybe it won’t be as big of a problem in the future.” Student X said.