There’s a scene from the movie “A Christmas Story” that has been played out in multiple forms over a hundred years. The character Scut Farkus, red head blazing in the snowy glare of winter, threatens young Ralph and his brother Randy for the umpteenth time to the point that when he says a quiet “boo”…it scares the brothers to a sprint as they scream to get away. It’s a comical moment that can elicit a more somber tone for those that experienced bullies in a very real and threatening manner.
Bullies are the same today for reasons they were bullies in years gone by, their own poor self-image and esteem is over compensated by the need to feel superior. But the difference that exists in the modern world is this…the tools. The tools that bullies have to work with today are invisible and can be deadly. Technology has enhanced our lives in many ways but has allowed for a darker usage that has rendered disastrous results for some of today’s most vulnerable souls. Texts, emails, and worst of all, social networking, can damage reputations and self-worth to the point of suicide. And that is tragic and unacceptable.
Cyber Bullies of today have another advantage over their counterparts of years ago…it is called anonymity. It’s just as easy to be awful as it is to be kind when no one knows your name. Whatever power fix is satisfied when someone gets away with the destruction of a soul says so much more about the abuser, but only those of us not at the depths of despair can see that.
So what do you do if you are the victim of a cyber-bully? I’m happy to say…a lot. Although there are many stories of the public school system failing in this category, the truth is they are much more successful than advertised. Only negative news sells. Fact is, schools are taking notice of how truly damaging (and rampant) the trend has become and they are getting far more serious in dealing with bullies. The education of why and who become bullies gets better each year and the more staff, students and teachers understand what is considered bullying, the faster it can be reported. These proactive solutions make it difficult to gauge just how many students are saved from abuse, but the satisfaction that the results are real is encouraging.
If you are a student who is suffering abuse at the hands or the words of a bully, you need to know the power you actually have available to you. The first is to tell a trusted adult. It’s not tattling and it’s not weak. It’s smart. Most teachers will take the time to listen if you have a serious issue like this. Your security guards at your school know more than you think they do. Tell them. They know how to help. Ultimately, you want to tell an administrator. Most victims tell of fear of the social backlash from the bully or just the kids, in general, at the school. Most times those fears are unfounded. The majorities of kids are good, are compassionate and already know the character (or lack thereof) of the bully. They may have already dealt with him or her before.
Take a stand against a bully. Many will back down if they see you stand your ground because they’re not comfortable with confrontation, only with intimidation. That’s just how cowards are.