Bullying: Not Like it Used to Be

Jessica Terrizzi, Staff Writer

When people think of bullying, the first image that usually comes to mind is an intimidating guy threatening a “loser” and asking for his lunch money. In the modern days, however, bullying is not this straightforward; it happens in more subtle and hurtful ways.

The most common way bullying occurs today is through the Internet, or, more specifically, social networking. Over time, bullying has gone from verbal and physical threats to written insults and negative comments online. The issue of bullying and cyberbullying has greatly increased over time. According to the National Resource Center, approximately 160,000 students either stay home from school each day or dread going due to the fact that they are worried about having to face bullies.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Cyberbullying Research Center, 52 percent of teenagers have reported being cyberbullied and 33 percent have reported that they received threats online. Also, it states that females are more likely to be bullied socially and psychologically, whereas males are more likely to be bullied verbally and physically.

In a study conducted by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D. from the Cyberbullying Research Center, statistics showed that 20 percent of teenagers have contemplated suicide because of cyber bullying and 19 percent had actually attempted suicide.

Punishment for cyberbullying nowadays includes suspension or possible expulsion from school, and sometimes the police may even have to get involved. Schools in New Jersey have gone out of their way to ensure that the students are now aware of the bullying policies. For example, on October 18, 2011, Hawthorne High School adopted a new bullying policy. This policy affects students because it holds them more accountable for their behaviors. Every case brought to the school has to be investigated fully.

Jennifer Basilone, antibullying specialist of Hawthorne High School said, “I have mixed feelings about the law.  I believe that it is good in that it allows for clearer consequences and record keeping; however, I am not sure if you can really legislate emotions and feelings.  Bullying is a symptom of a deeper issue.  Sometimes by being so rigorous about controlling the ‘symptoms,’ there is no time to work on what is causing them.”