On October 7th, 2003, Ryan Patrick Halligan was found hanging in the bathroom of his parent’s home. The suicide was a result of bullying from his classmates in real life, and cyber bullying. He was only 13 years old. “It’s estimated that nearly 30% — or 5.7 million children — are involved in bullying, as victims, perpetrators, or both. Studies have found that 15 to 25% of students in the U.S. are bullied, and 15 to 20% bully others” (Sognonvi, 1).
Bullying has become a serious worldwide epidemic that seems to be taken too lightly.
Though most victims suffer from the common verbal bullying, cyber bullying seems to be the one that causes the most suicides. “’Cyber bullying’ is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones” (1).
As the modern era continues, cyber bullying is on the rise. Many teens take advantage of technology and social networking and use these tools to put down their peers. They have the belief that they are invincible and will not receive harsh punishment if the nasty comments are online. They also may believe that if the comments or insults are not directly in person then it is like it never happened.
Cyber bullying is what killed Megan Meier. According to ABCNews.com, the mother of a former friend of Megan’s believed Megan was saying rude comments about her daughter. Instead of approaching Megan or her mother herself, she decided to make a fake MySpace account and pose as a good looking young boy named Josh Evans, and befriend Megan to see if she would reveal anything. Evans would compliment Megan and soon began an online friendship. Over the course of a month, Evans began switching his compliments to insults and then told Megan they can no longer be friends because he “heard” she was not nice to her friends. The cyber exchange devastated Megan and she did not understand what had happened. The next day, Megan’s mother found her body hanging in a bedroom closet. Megan had hung herself. The mother responsible for the fake account went free from any wrong-doing.
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There are many websites and organizations of all sorts that are strongly against bullying and try all they can to stop it. But there are others that seem to want to make a profit from this awful dilemma. In 2006, Rockstar Games released a game called Bully. It was later re-released as Bully: Scholarship Edition. The premise of the game is that it is sometimes acceptable to deal with bullying by becoming the ultimate bully. Players assume the role of a 15 year old trouble maker that was sent to a boarding school. The announcement of the release of the game resulted in huge controversy by many parents. Groups such as Bullying Online and Peaceaholics have criticized the game for glorifying or trivializing school bullying. Many parents believe that video games influence children in a great way and can cause them to impersonate the characters in the game. “Rockstar Games defend Bully and say the issues are out of their hands: All they can do is try to make good video games” (Slagle, 1).
The controversial game.
The majority of those getting bullied are children and teens, but there are also some adults who have to deal with bullies. One would think that as people mature and progress through life, that they would stop behaviors of their youth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sadly, adults can be bullies. While adults are more likely to use verbal bullying as opposed to physical bullying, the fact of the matter is that adult bullying exists. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims, and “show them who is boss.” Adult bullies were either bullies as children or bullied as children. Adults can experience several different types of bullies, such as a narcissistic bully, impulsive bully, physical bully, and a verbal bully.
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Bullying can also affect those teens who witness the bullying. In one study of junior high and high school students, over 88 percent said they had witnessed bullying in their schools. Teens who witness bullying can feel guilty or helpless for not standing up to a bully on behalf of a classmate or friend, or for not reporting the incident to someone who could help. They may experience even greater guilt if they are drawn into bullying by pressure from their peers. Some teens deal with these feelings of guilt by blaming the victim and deciding that he or she deserved the abuse. Teens sometimes also feel compelled to end a friendship or avoid being seen with the bullied teen to avoid losing status or being targeted themselves.
People bully others for a whole range of different reasons. Some people don’t feel good about themselves and put other people “down” to make themselves feel “up”. To do this they may tease or taunt other people about lots of different things. These include: the way they look, the color of their skin, how hard they work, if they have a mental or physical problem of some kind, if they come from another country, if they wear glasses or have braces on their teeth, and many others. Bullies pick on almost everyone, as long as they sense that they can make another person feel bad about themselves, or at least worse than the bully feels about himself or herself. Many bullies are people who were bullied themselves and the only way to make themselves feel better is to treat another person the same way.
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Bullying has become more severe over the years and has resulted in more tragedies than ever before. Bullying can bring fear and hopelessness into the life of an innocent child. Sadly, many caregivers and bystanders don’t act when they see a child getting bullied on the playground or in their neighborhood. Such inaction can mean misery for children who are subjected to bullying on a regular basis. Years after the bullying has come to an end, people who were bullied as teenagers have poorer self-esteem and higher levels of depression than other adults. Bullying is a behavioral issue that needs to be dealt with seriously. By stopping a bully before he or she does great harm, it could possibly save the life of an innocent victim.