“I felt my knees weaken,” my mom exclaimed, as she spoke about the tragic death of 13-year-old Rosalie Avila. “Some people just don’t have heart.”
And even after the passing of Avila, classmates continued to spout abusing comments towards the Avila family–poking fun at her burial proceedings.
There’s also the story of Ashawnty Davis. The 10-year-old had finally stood up to her bullies and was beat up because of it. After the video of the fight went viral on social media, Davis hung herself on November 16. Why didn’t people stop the fight, instead of recording it?
The latest cases of bullying make any decent person’s blood boil out of pain, frustration, and anger. However, what have we done to ensure bullying is addressed posthaste?
Nothing, it seems.
Despite Avila and Davis enduring years of hardship through bullying, school administrators only provided occasional talking points to reassure their support for the families, while promising solutions. In the end, two families are enduring the tragedy of loss, while perpetrators continue to inflict abuse at other school children.
Once again, in the midst of a crisis, there are no concrete solutions. Unfortunately, bullying is becoming commonplace across communities in America.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied. In addition, the percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007 to 2016.
The Center for Disease Control has proven that students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Sadly, only 36 percent of students report issues with bullying–leaving 64 percent of students without any kind of support.
One way communities could prevent bullying is by addressing the issue head on. While some cases require strict disciplinary action (i.e. criminal apprehension and punishment), most incidents could be resolved by school administrators, teachers, and parents. It’s important to observe bullying behavior and take note of behavioral changes among victims. When this occurs, it should be handled immediately, rather than later.
While the aforementioned approach sounds easy and trite, it produces favorable outcomes. Studies have indicated that 57 percent of bullying incidents are quelled when someone intervenes. Moreover, school-based bullying prevention programs have decreased bullying by up to 25 percent.
The underlying issue with bullying, I believe, is addressing what perpetrators (bullies) are experiencing at home or around their communities. Children behavioral problems are built up by experiences of negligence, abuse, and hardship within their own families. If a child has access to an adult role model at school or at home, they could receive the proper guidance necessary to develop healthy relationships.
There’s no easy answer to resolving bullying. But as educators, community leaders, parents, and peers, we need to do something. Otherwise, we’re doomed to lose more young minds.