Bullying in Schools
Patrick J. Mullan
Empire State College
Bullying in Schools
There are times in one’s life when something so deeply touches us that we have to stop what we are doing and either blink, smile or cry. For me, such a moment occurred on January 3, 2013 when I read in The Staten Island Advance that a 15 year old girl threw herself in front of a bus while carrying a suicide note in her pocket. This young lady had lived close to my home in Staten Island. Her name was Amanda Cummings, a high school student and a very attractive young woman. It was revealed that she was the victim of bullying both at school. She was also bullied on her cell phone and on the internet when she ...view middle of the document...
She told her relatives that she would not report them because it would just lead to worse bullying. But on the day after Christmas she showed her family a large volume of text messages that clearly displayed the torture she was getting. Her relatives stated that Amanda showed them evidence that the bullies made fun of her clothes, her shoes, her hair and everything about her. Shortly before throwing herself in front of the bus Amanda wrote on her Facebook page, “I’ll cry without you.”
I am a grown man of 51 years but when I read this story my heart broke and I started crying in front of my computer screen. I felt that we, as a society had failed this young girl, and I wanted to find the bullies and slam their heads into a wall. I thought of my own daughter in high school and wondered if she was also a victim of bullying at her school. Of course my desire to punish the bullies was not a rational response to the situation; but the grief that I felt was genuine. I was disgusted to learn that the same people who drove her to her death continued their evil postings on her page in the weeks and months that followed. Amanda’s parents and local officials called for an investigation into how the school handled bullying and what could be done to prevent it in the future. Researching student’s behavior and how they interact with each other is essential in order to prevent the future injury or suicide of our children.
When I think of Amanda’s trouble I recall how there were bullies in my elementary school and also in my high school. But in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s we did not have cell phones or the internet. When the bell rang at three o’clock the bullying would stop and you did not have to deal with the bullies when you were at home or over the weekends. So perhaps these intervals wherein we did not have to see or deal with the bullies made life somewhat tolerable. But Amanda was exposed to torture 24 hours a day, over seven days each week through both the web and cell phone. It was too much for her to bear. I thought to myself, “What would cause children to be so cruel to each other?” Naturally my next thought was, “why weren’t her parents and her school more involved in her life so that this death could have been prevented?” Undoubtedly this problem needed intense study and action. Finally I asked myself, “what exactly is bullying?” Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). Amanda Cummings certainly was a victim of such unwanted aggressive behavior.
Before scientific theories were developed to offer different perspectives on child development there was an opinion that children were born evil and that they needed redemption. Particularly in the late 1700s and early 1800s...