An End to Our Differences
Walking through the crowded halls of school can be an intimidating thing. Especially when you happen to be “different” from everyone else.
Perhaps you have a differing ethnicity or sexual orientation; maybe people don’t understand your religion, or you are just really into cats. Whatever it is you have been targeted, so you tip toe through the day trying to go unnoticed. Eyes stuck to the linoleum, not paying attention to the masses, the seemingly inevitable happens. A vicious remark leaves your cheeks stained red as you rush to class, chased by the sound of laughter. Though this may seem like an isolated incident it is unfortunately happening frequently to many students.
In this day and age when most people would agree there is no such thing as “normal” why are students still raging war with others they deem “different”? Prejudices and bullying are taking a toll on student’s well being but we are starting to see more people speak against it, and students can learn how to make a change as we strive to put an end to our differences. Harassment is not harmless and it is not playful, but it can lead to serious problems. Increased anxiety and depression are very evident in bullied children. They feel secluded and believe that no one would understand. What many do not realize is that others do understand. Parents, teachers and, believe it or not, other students are willing to help if just asked.
Chances are they may have gone through the exact same thing. Too many victims are staying quiet and letting the effects ruin their lives. Their grades begin to drop and the utter hopelessness they feel lead them to miss school (Packman). Constantly being fed lies that they are different and inferior to the rest of society, it is no surprise that poisoned thoughts feed on their feelings of worth (Effects). Unfortunately when this severe mental and emotional turmoil starts to go unnoticed victims can turn to unhealthy and even deadly habits.
Increased use of drugs and alcohol become part of their routines to help them forget about their problems (Taking). Others stand by and watch the disastrous scene unfold as thoughts of suicide dominate their thoughts. Last year, in a matter of just three weeks, quicker than most of our infamously short high school relationships, four gay young adults took their lives. It is hard to fathom the dark place these teens felt trapped in, to feel the only option left is to erase themselves from society. The chilling part of bullying is that the harassed are not the only ones in risk of losing their lives. In one study they found that in twelve out of fifteen school shootings, the shooters had a history of being bullied (Effects).
To imagine the guilt one would feel from knowing they could have prevented death must be extreme. What good is being done by putting on our shutters and prancing through life with no to little concern for others? When the stakes are this high, why risk letting it continue? Bullying is like playing with fire crackers in a house of glass, chances are damage will be done with no hope of being undone. It may seem as though there is little being done about this crisis but there are many people starting to speak out. Big name celebrities are taking a stand and using their influence to spread the word that bullying is wrong. Icons like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars are speaking out about the seriousness of getting involved.
For actor Collin Ferrell it is a heated subject and he harshly warns, “Bullying is torture, it is about the betrayal of basic human decency and its scars reach deep into the future of those survivors… It is a very real problem and is an adversary of a potential harmonious world that should have no place for bullies or bullying.” (Celebrities). Even new shows like Glee have acceptance oriented themes to show viewers that everyone is different and deserves their peer’s respect (Luner). The media is not the only venue where we are witnessing anti-bullying messages; Congress has been passing laws to condemn harassment, a much needed movement. Recently, in response to the Tyler Clementi incident, New Jersey has put into action the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights”.
This bill is taking radical measures to train school staff and students how to prevent harassment. One school psychologist is all for the movement, “We’re empowering children to use the term ‘bullying’ and to speak up for themselves and for others.” Showing great promise for decreasing hostile events in schools, will the bill catch wind and spread to other states? There is great hope. For too long bullying has been considered a part of life; why should a select group of people be left to fend for their sanity while others watch them drown? It may seem like one voice, one opinion, one person can not make a difference but it can. Look inside yourself and ask “Is someone’s life worth my involvement?” Many will answer yes; many will answer no. For those not convinced, it takes little to get involved and make an impact.
A deceiving and sad portrait often portrayed is that bullies are these mean giants who have no conscience. More realistically, they often have their own monsters they are fighting and they absolutely have a conscience, regardless of how often used. Sometimes it may take simply asking them to stop to make them realize they do not have their peer’s approval. A problem often faced is that bystanders can feel just as alone when standing up to a bully as the victim themselves. If you are timid or don’t want to make a big deal you can talk to a teacher or an adult.
Even just leaving a note on their desk, or sending a quick email, could change someone’s life for the better. It may seem juvenile but there is no way to measure the impact it can leave. Feeling bold? Talk to the victim and offer some support. (Bullying). Feeling really bold? Pick up your banner and start a movement in your school.
Numerous programs are being offered to face this epidemic; anyone can be the catalyst for a more perfect union. The important part is not to be afraid to speak up and to be persistent; no great advancement was achieved in a day (Let’s). Yes, bullying happens in every school and can lead to chaos. Yes, you may fear you are the only one taking a stand. Yes, it may seem like it is not your place to get involved.
No, we should not allow this violent behavior to continue. To feel unaffected by someone being bullied or even their suicide is normal. In this world where violence is used as propaganda we become desensitized, but the key is not to be fooled. Unfortunately you did not have personal connections with these people we see in the news. Never did you have or take the chance to find out what made them great and fantastically unique. However, what I feel in the core of my spirit is that it simply takes getting to know someone to realize that we are all humans.
We have our quirks, our monsters and struggles; we laugh, we love, and we are all specially created. Once we come to the realization that we are all the same, only then, can we recognize that no one deserves to be treated unjust. I may be considered an idealist but one day I hope to see an end to our differences.