Time to step up, stop teen cyber bullying

by William lewandowski

lewandowwi@mnstate.edu

Bullying is nothing new. We all know that social media has been an outlet for bullies to hide behind a computer screen, causing students who face bullying at school to also experience it at home.

I work with a group of teens (mostly in middle and high school) in a group called Teen Safe Haven. It was established after one of my friends committed suicide at the age of 16. The group was created for teens to shed worries and talk about problems, including bullying, they are experiencing.

In school, I rarely faced bullying, but I knew it was there. In recent years, though, bullying has gotten worse, even in the short time I have been away from middle and high school.

Kids are becoming way too comfortable being behind the screen, causing them to throw words around faster, without thought.

The things I have heard could make a person cry. Hateful messages like, “Go drink bleach and die,” or “You don’t matter. Just do everyone a favor and kill yourself.”

The words I have heard and have seen sent on the Internet to others are criminal and disgusting. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone telling another human being to die.

When we lost our friend, it was like a piece of everyone’s heart went with her. We never truly believed she was gone. What if that kid who was told to die went through with it; how would their loved ones feel?

To me, it’s like the bullies have no heart, just a computer and nothing else to do but be a burden in someone else’s life. The things that are sent are just unbelievable and need to be stopped.

The teens in the group are advised to block and delete bullies, but you can’t delete them from your life, so what now? Move schools, cities or even states just because of how horrendous kids are being to each other?

Right now there is not much that can be done about online bullying other than documenting, screen shooting and keeping record of it until something happens to the victim.

What needs to change to help these victims of cyber bullying?

There need to be better measures to punish the kids who cyber bully, and not just a slap on the hand. Something needs to be done, like going to a mandatory class on preventing bullying, or even going as far as removing the bully from the school.

Teen Safe Haven has really helped the kids involved. Many of those who turned to cutting themselves to cope have stopped, or are in the process of stopping; the depressed are recovering and the lonely are involved and appreciated. Everyone has a voice.

Still, the bullying never goes away. So, as I always ask the people who perpetrate the bullying: What happens if you tell that person to die, and they do? How are you going to feel?

What is it going to take to stop cyber bullying among these kids, especially those who are only 12 or 13?

Everyone has a purpose, and everyone matters. There is a reason for everyone to be on this planet.

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