Loser. Retarded. Faggot. These were some of the names I was called on a regular basis when I was in seventh and eighth grade for reasons still unknown to me. It made me feel extremely small, within a chain of command where the “popular kids” let their ego get to them and pick on the kids lower on the chain like me. Luckily, I got through that bad period of time. And while it has gone away for me and I may not see this mistreatment every day at Marshfield, I know it still exists. Bullying can come in many forms, and influences such as social media make it worse. Bullying seems to finally be getting attention as a serious issue in Coos Bay Schools, and I hope it will be seriously dealt with at MHS.
There will seemingly always be bullying in school, whether it be snickering with one’s friends about another’s outfit or going out of one’s way to blatantly tell someone something negative and hurtful about his or herself, and even moving beyond verbal harassment to become physical in nature. But Bullying is no joke. It is something I and many, many others have encountered or still do encounter, but it is not something any person should do, nor joke about doing to other people. I know firsthand it is completely awful. I didn’t really know what to do about the harassment and name calling I dealt with almost every day at school for nearly two years. No one talked about how to get help, and I mostly tried to ignore it. There was no formal way for me to deal with the bullying happening to me at school other than being creative and trusting a few people close to me to help, so I am thrilled to see there is now a Coos Bay School District Violence Complaint Procedures form for students and staff. The form identifies bullying in the following categories: hazing, harassment, intimidation, menacing, bullying and cyberbullying. If a student feels as if they are being mistreated with any of these kinds of acts, he or she can go to the main office and complete one of these complaint forms to let staff know what is going on. Staff members have also been informed to complete these forms for any form of bullying they are aware of. I hope these complaints are dealt with appropriately and taken seriously because no student should have to deal with constant bullying at school.
Bullying is not limited to the campus on which we spend much of our lives either. With social media being so popular in our culture as teenagers, there are many different ways people use it. A person who uses social media with a reputation of being rude to people may consider it a place to bash on others, and the thought of that is just appalling. There is no reason for it. A good example of unnecessary harassment is the Smack High Twitter accounts. The creator behind Smack High decided to make an account for every state, and it allows followers from one school to submit comments about other schools or a school’s programs anonymously. The Oregon Smack High Twitter account has over 15,000 followers and all can see comments students write about others schools or even their own. The remarks written on the Smack High account can negatively affect a person. I used to enjoy the account and thought the comments submitted were funny, but they have become too personal. There is nothing humorous about intentionally bashing on fellow teenagers without caring how it affects them.
I will never again endure the bullying I faced in my past. I shouldn’t have to. I did learn from it though. I learned to stand up for myself. I learned who I could trust and who didn’t deserve my trust, let alone my time, thoughts or energy. I also learned empathy. Having gone through bullying I know what it feels like, and I hope I never make someone feel the way those bullies made me feel. Sometimes my humor crosses the line, but I don’t want to ever cause anyone pain. I am glad to see MHS try to take a stand against this epidemic. Staff and students alike should make serious efforts to use the new violence complaint procedure form and follow through with it until a resolution is reached. More importantly, we all need to check our attitudes and behaviors on a regular basis to make sure we are part of the solution and not the problem. I know I didn’t even have it nearly as bad as some people, but it was bad enough, and the teenage years are already full of challenges. Bringing an end to, or at least greatly reducing bullying, will change the culture at MHS and in this community.