Bullying is on the rise as traditional values decrease and technological advances innovate in ways to interact with other people. As a result, bullying has transformed itself into a serious problem that permeates every aspect of our social life.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2008, 28 percent of students in Grades 6-12 nationwide experienced bullying. The Bullying Statistics website indicates that in 2010 there were about 71 percent of students that reported bullying as an ongoing problem.
With the advent of social media, bullying has extended its reach by influencing the way students interact with classmates and friends.
The Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC) states that 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying. The CRC indicates that 50 percent of young people have experienced cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.
Ditch the Label, an organization which provides support to victims of bullying, found that Facebook, Ask.fm and Twitter were found to be the most likely sources of cyberbullying.
Liam Hackett, founder and CEO of Ditch the Label, says that “sites like Ask.fm and Twitter rated highly but we found that Facebook was the worst offender with 54 percent of people cyberbullied on the network.”
The effects of bullying online has been sometimes overlooked when considering online submissions as something that can be updated or deleted if an unwanted comment was posted.
“But actually, we have seen that content becomes viral very quickly and when comments are put out on a public platform it can be more distressing for the victim because a lot of people are exposed to this content, so it’s incredible harmful,” Hackett says.
Cyberbullying has been pointed out as one of the main causes of the rise of young suicide.
A good way to tackle the problem of bullying is to know its origins.
The writer Richard Donegan, in a study for the Elon University, NC, says that the origin of bullying is in the natural desire to survive.
“Survival is associated directly with competition due to the multitude of species and limited natural resources on the planet,” Donegan says.
We need to start changing some flaws in our educational system. There is not such a thing as a perfect system.
Donegan says that “unfortunately the U.S. capitalistic society inadvertently pushes the belief that success and wealth go hand in hand.”
The apparent innocent methods of teachings shape a child throughout his or her education.
For example, students learn how to be competitive at college and in their future professional career. The students are exposed to tactics such as pressure for better grades to get scholarships, grants and a good income. Being better than others seems to be the rule.
Once students realize that those strategies work, they internalize them and construct their personality with those features that establish the basis for bullying.
“This ideology has shaped a nation where bullying is unintentionally instilled as a survival tactic from a very young age,” Donegan says.
On the other hand, those students who do not fill the expectations or fit the pattern are rather prone to become victims.
Some educational strategies are dangerous, because when they become part of an individual’s lifestyle they will affect negatively his or her adult life, making the individual prone to become a bully at home and in the workplace.
Further progress in technology will bring more challenges in the way we communicate with each other.
The pervasive power of technology and a flawed educational system will make human interactions more complex and problematic. People will become more vulnerable to psychological and emotional stress.
This vulnerability puts many young people in a position at risk of becoming either victims or perpetrators of bullying in any of its manifestations.
Bullying promotes an environment of fear and desperation that translates in diminishing of an effective learning experience. As a consequence, it directly affects the ability of individuals to achieve their full potential as students and future workers.
To effectively address the problem of bullying it is necessary that legislators, schools, communities and families join forces.
Assertive and coordinated laws, policies and strategies will be more powerful to reduce bullying and keeping children safe.
Although lawmakers continue to counterattack the increasing cases of bullying, enhancing family values, increasing appreciation for cultural diversity and teaching children to be tolerant and kind toward everyone will make a better impression in their personal development.