Bullying must be stopped

To the Editor:

Hallways, buses, classrooms, after school activities. These are places that I, William Bird, a seventh grader at Hollis Brookline Middle School, have seen bullying occur. Every day, I see people being bullied. It has happened to me and to other students and it will continue to happen unless a change is made. The consequences for victims are tragic and horrible. I’m writing to you because I believe you will, from the kindness of your heart, fully understand the importance of this issue and share these facts about bullying. If we don’t step up to solve this terrible problem, who will? If nobody cares enough to make a change, students will continue be bullied, sometimes to the point of suicide. Bullying must be stopped.

What is bullying? Bullying is just about anything that is harmful to someone emotionally or physically and which happens repeatedly. Some studies say that over 40 percent of children report having been bullied during their school years.

There are several different kinds of bullying. Physical bullying is harming someone by making actual physical contact between two people, like slamming people into lockers or continually tripping a certain person when he or she walks by is physical bullying. There’s also verbal bullying, name calling, bad language or spreading rumors, in addition to social bullying, which is similar to verbal bullying, but done in a group. Repeatedly excluding someone from a game or even from sitting at a particular lunch table in order to make them feel bad is social bullying. And finally, cyberbullying is similar to social and verbal bullying, but is done online. Making fun of other people by posting mean comments or pictures directed at the victim on social media sites are ways people cyberbully others. Typically speaking, boys are more likely to be verbal, socially and physically bullied and girls are more likely to be cyber bullied.

Research has concluded that there are many reasons why people bully and that so-called “bullies” often target those who look, talk or behave differently from that person’s peers group. Bullies often turn to negative behavior out of jealousy, insecurity or boredom. They try to make themselves feel better by making others feel worse or lower than the bully. Bullying isn’t limited to kids because adults can be bullied, too. The effects of bullying can be intense and spread beyond the victim.

Gary W. Ladd, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, said, “The children who are frequently bullied are not only not liking school and not wanting to be there, but are finding it hard to participate in the classroom.”

How can anyone concentrate if they are imagining their next run-in with their bully or maybe even have to cooperate on a project with him or her? It also makes students suffer academically. Bullying makes victims, those witnessing bullying and even bullies feel lousy in the end. Ryan Hill, an instructor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at UTHealth McGovern Medical School, said that “Both bully victims and perpetrators are in need of services and preventing bullying means also preventing children from becoming the bullies.”

Because bullying impacts so many people and it impacts bullies as well, it is critical that community members, schools and students work together to find solutions to this major problem for all students and their learning. The impact of bullying spreads like a domino effect. Don’t be the one to push the first domino. Community members who are interested in this topic may contact me at HBMS to discuss ways we can work on this issue together. Step up and let’s address this problem as a community.

William Bird