School is challenging enough with all the essays to write and math to absorb. It can become a thousand more times frightening when confronted by a bully every day.
But what is bullying, and how and when does it occur? Bullying can be physical, verbal or emotional. Physical bullying can include pushing, kicking, punching, and tickling, among other things. Verbal abuse includes name calling, teasing or laughing at another student. Emotional bullying includes spreading rumors, excluding someone from a group, provocation and harassment.
However, times have changed. These days there is another equally malicious type of bullying that does not stop at the exits to the school. With cyberbullying, the perpetrator continues to harass and torment from the safety of their home computer. They often use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to keep the abuse going full-time.
The bully may not even be who you would most suspect. Teachers, parents, students, other school staff or even bus drivers can be an aggressor.
One of the most famous cases of unexpected internet abuse is that of Lori Drew, a mom indicted for bullying a student, Megan Meier, a girl her daughter went to school with. Drew allegedly created a fake MySpace account from a boy named “Josh Evans.” At first the messages “Josh” sent to Megan were positive and made Megan believe Josh liked her. Later, they changed to negative and harassing. Later that year, Megan, 13, hanged herself at her home. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided.
How? According to education.com, some signs of bullying include coming home with ripped or torn clothes, missing clothing, unexpected cuts or bruises, depression, trouble sleeping, anxiety, loss of interest in school or loss of appetite.
To learn more about how to combat bullying, visit Rachel’s Challenge, a program that grew out of the Columbine High School shootings. According to the website, each day 160,000 students do not go to school because they are being bullied, teased or harassed. With vigilance and care, some day we may be able to end the abuse.