by: David Schick
October marked the sixth annual Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights National Bullying Prevention Month, which is a campaign that aims to promote an awareness of the devastating effects of bullying.
In the past, PACER viewed bullying as “a childhood rite of passage,” but has since lead the way in anti-bullying in order to prevent further tragedies caused by bullies.
Even the term “cyberbullying, the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person (as a student) often done anonymously,” was recently added to the eleventh edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Which brings to question – What is bullying?
“Bullying is when you’re bringing harm physically or mentally to other students,” Dr. Nathaniel West, a GPC psychology professor and a public school administrator veteran with 15 years experience, said. “I don’t think it’s a rite of passage because bullying can mentally destroy some people.”
A controversial piece of anti-bullying legislation proposed earlier this month to the Michigan Senate could instead actually give kids a “license to bully” due to a technicality, according to Michigan’s News Channel 3. A section of the bill gives students immunity from comments made from a religious belief or moral conviction.
In a CBS special, they say that experts call bullying an “epidemic, with one in seven students being affected by the time they graduate high school.” They also referenced a newer term known as “bullycide,” and interviewed GPC student, Polina Milter, about her almost fatal experience in bullying.
“I took about 12 to 13 Ambien pills. I knew I couldn’t stand to be alone anymore. I couldn’t stand all the hurtful things that people were saying, so I took them,” Milter said.
With the ambiguity of the definition of bullying, is the mainstream media spinning fear or awareness to the general public?
“I’ve never encountered where a person was thinking of suicide or wanting to hurt somebody where they wanted to kill somebody because of bullying, ” Dr. West said. “I think what we need to do is recognize that everyone wants to be accepted. I don’t care how young or how old you are … everybody wants friends, everybody needs friends.”