Leila Zein-Phillipson | Torrey Pines High School Junior
“Hurt people hurt people,” said Maddy a junior from Torrey Pines High School (TPHS).
Every day teens wake up afraid to go to school due to bullying. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students in the United States. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) reported in April of 2012 that 5% of students did not go to school on one or more occasions during that month because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.
In recent years, bullying-related events have been correlated with depression and suicide. Many adults assume bullying is a common aspect of growing up; however it has been shown to be a serious problem leading to many negative effects for victims.
Bullying includes behaviors that make those bullied feel inadequate. There are multiple forms of bullying including, verbal, social, physical and increasingly common, cyber bullying. A frequent question posed is why do people bully?
In response to this question TPHS senior, Grace suggested, “For guys it’s about dominance and to feel they are the ‘alpha male’ they put others down. For girls they bully and spread rumors to bond and by putting down others they increase their confidence. It sounds cliché but bottom line people bully when they are insecure and need to feel more sure with themselves.”
An increasingly common form of bullying is cyber bullying. cyber bullying is bullying via the Internet or digital technology including cell phones. This form of bullying also includes hacking or impersonating online accounts. In California, in 2011, Penal Code section 528.5 was created to address the crime of cyber bullying. The law focuses on perpetrators who impersonate the victim through means such as creation of a false profile under the victim’s name with negative intentions.
“A classmate of mine created a fake Facebook account using my name and impersonated me through the account,” said Emily, who also states, “I was a victim of cyber bullying and harassment and without my friends and family I could have been more severely affected emotionally.”
According to The Cyberbullying Research Center, cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and are more prone to consider suicide.
John, a junior at TPHS believes “bullying should not be tolerated.” He has witnessed firsthand a classmate battle depression resulting from cyber bullying.
Bullying also includes physical abuse. Some bullies attack their targets physically, which includes shoving or tripping to punching or hitting, or even sexual assault.
“I have witnessed fights on school grounds. It’s scary because people just watch and don’t try and stop the fights,” said Katie a student at La Costa Canyon High School (LCC).
Although to some bullying seems cliché and part of Hollywood’s high school ‘mean girls’ act, bullying is a serious problem among teens.
“Bullying affects everyone, not just the victim or the protagonist. Bullying should be stopped immediately but that starts with everyone,” said Cheyenne.
San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) schools have programs available to students who are experiencing emotional battles due to bullying. Each school has on site school psychologists. TPHS offers a program called Peer Assistant Listeners (PALs) a body of students who are peer counselors. PALs put together a suicide awareness week in early February where the effects of bullying are discussed. Bullying is abusive, and help from PALs is available for victims.