In the past few years, the amount of bullying, especially cyber bullying, has grown exponentially among the teenagers. AISV is no exception, because even in the friendliest of communities, there are bad influences that develop into bad choices. The middle school administration conducted a survey this year among the students regarding both the perpetrators and victims within our school. Confusingly, the results show that 0% of middle school female students and a range of 4-11% for boys (depending on the grade level), admitted to bullying others, however a range from 6-24 % of female and a range of 3-12% of male students answered that they were or are bullied. These answers beg the question; where are the bullies and what is AIS doing to identify those who do wrong? AISV middle school counselor, Ms. Riviera, the person in charge of the fight against bullying, commented on the situation, “I think that there is some bullying happening between girls and girls, and boy and boys at every single grade level at our school. We don’t see a huge number, but we do see it happening.” why exactly does bullying happen? When faced with this question, high school teacher Mr. Westfall, the sponsor of the anti-bullying Rainbow club replied, “People bully because it gives them a sense of power, popularity, and social acceptance.”
In this example, a post by a AIS middle school male student confirms the existence of bullying in middle school and shows the inconsideration enough to share it online.
The savage nature of teenagers is shown as it can be seen that 6 people liked this post. Six people believe that it is great to share insults online.
The statistics of the AIS MS bullying survey also show that 42% of girls and 22% of boys in Middle School are afraid of being bullied “often”, “very often” and “sometimes”. When asked what the school is doing to identify bullies and prevent further accidents, Ms. Riviera answered, “What we try to do is with our teachers and everyone that works in our school is to create a school environment, where students feel like there is always someone that they can speak to. So that’s the first thing, because if we don’t know what is happening, we can’t really do anything to help.” So why exactly does bullying happen? When faced with this question, high school teacher Mr. Westfall, the sponsor of the anti-bullying Rainbow club replied, “People bully because it gives them a sense of power, popularity, and social acceptance.”
Another example of a cyber bullying conflict among AISV students, is this photo which provides an insight on how open students can be about each other when online.
In the fall of 2013, the AIS Vienna middle school counseling office identified and took disciplinary measures against a number of cyber bullies in order to try to quell this increasingly disturbing trend. Frustratingly, most of those that were involved in cyber-bullying were never identified since their names were anonymous.
Due to the vast anonymity on the Internet, bullies on anonymous social media sites such as ask.fm can be almost impossible to find, boosting their confidence and making them even crueler. A cyber bully usually counts on the ability to hide behind a computer screen to assault others. The problem with anonymity is that it robs the administration of a chance to identify the bullies. It is time that the administration stops worrying about unachievable goals, and it is time to create such strong measures against those who bully that students will not have thoughts about any abuse, be it verbal, physical or cyber.
In the above internet post by an anonymous on the website of an AISV middle school student it is revealed, by the student himself, that he and his friends actually enjoy verbal bullying a female student, even if it is behind her back.
However grown-ups can also encourage bullying, even unknowingly or by mistake. Sometimes the adults of the school cause misunderstandings themselves. “Our teacher had us write our name, then describe ourselves and finally wrote our social class on posters, which he then hang up on the wall. One guy wrote that he is Asian and from Upper class,” mentioned a middle school girl when asked about her school day. She then added, “Many people laughed at him, cause [sic] no one else thought to write upper class”. This seemingly unimportant incident caused students to talk about each other and encouraged discussing social classes of each other. This task given by teacher, probably to let other children to acquaintance themselves with others, turned into an opportunity for bullying.
“Have you ever witnessed and/or been a part of bullying?” one of the middle-school girls was asked. “No, never,” she answered. Then it was explained to her that bullying does not necessarily mean physical abuse of a person, but also verbal insults like calling names, talking behind the people’s backs and spreading of rumors. “Oh well then I guess there’s bullying here. It happens everyday.” This incident that happened during an interview with one of the middle school students is another one of the major reasons for the bullying in the school, that goes unnoticed by the teachers and the students, both. The under education of some students leads them to believe that boys shouting inappropriate remarks at girls is not something that should be noticed as a sign of aggressive behavior and bullying.
Teachers at AIS are fighting an uphill battle, since it sometimes seems in a place such as middle school; it is the nature of adolescents to abuse. However, it is also us who are responsible for that boy being laughed at, a girls made to feel horrible, and people being hurt. We need to take some of the responsibility for the situation all of us have had a hand in creating, and owe it to those being hurt by it to take tough measures in order to eliminate the consequences of those actions.