High school anti-bullying programs don’t work

Here is my advice on how to really deal with bullying

There is no denying that bullying is on the rise due to the increased use of social media.  This is not another one of those articles that says something along the lines of “Bullying is bad and hurts people, don’t do it.” This addresses a different issue.

“My anti-bullying program at my school only gave us new ideas on how to bully people,” said freshman Constantino Flouras, “It didn’t help anything.”

Mine was the same way. Each time we had one of these programs, we got the same worksheet and talked about the same thing- how useless it all was.

Most high schools have some kind of anti-bullying day or seminar where they discuss what bullying is, and what bullying victims can do about their situation. Bullying is defined as “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,” according to stopbullying.gov. Victims are recommended to tell the closest adult about their problem.

Why is that a problem? Almost 20% of high schoolers are bullied, 15% of it occurring online. That means that they are told that their problems will end when they tell an adult. Anyone who believes that is insane. It is simply not true.

A simple Google search will show that not every adult, or school, will do something when bullying is reported. Obviously, that is a problem, but there will always be cases of that.  No system can ever be perfect. However, what follows is a much better approach to the bullying problem, both online and in person.

It’s honestly sad that no one has figured out that if a high schooler hasn’t learned that bullying is bad, they NEVER will.

First and foremost, one simple fact must be emphasized: no one should care that much about what other people think of them. Let’s say someone is bullying you for being gay. Why does their opinion matter? It doesn’t. If you let other people’s opinions on you effect you that much, you’ll come to find you aren’t living life as well as you could be. Same goes for someone who has a mental illness. Unless it’s coming from someone who knows what they’re talking about, their opinion doesn’t matter. Once the victim figures out that the bully’s words don’t matter, said victim won’t give a shit anymore.

Schools will never tell anyone this, but you ARE allowed to defend yourself. No one should feel that going to an adult is their only solution. They can also talk firmly to the bully, and sort things out.  They can say something along the lines of, “I don’t really know what I did to make you not like me, and frankly I don’t care.  Leave me alone or there will be problems.” If the bully keeps on harassing(because at this point, it’s actually harassment, which is a crime) the victim, there is no logical reason why the victim shouldn’t be allowed to take physical steps (within reason)to end the problem. Most schools would have to change their policies on fighting to make it OK for students to put an end to problems on their own.

Now for cyberbullying.

As someone who has been called every name in the book and harassed online, I have figured out the perfect solution to cyberbullying. We teach everyone that the Internet is full of mean people, which is easily shown pretty much everywhere you look, and the best thing to do if someone is mean to you is to block the person or get off the website. Plain and simple.

Why is teaching students to stand up for themselves and/or fight important? The point of high school is to help prepare students for college and the real world, where you can’t just go to an adult to get your problems solved. Why? Because you ARE the adult. No one else will help you. YOU have to solve the problems, and it is important to have the skills to do so.

University of Pittsburgh