In response to this article commentary: http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11901737&Call=Email&Format=HTML
(I couldn't fit all I really wanted to say in the small 1,000 character space they give you to respond, so I choose to blog my entire response here)
I do agree that children need to learn to handle some name calling and teasing as a sort of "rite of passage." Children and teenagers need a very strong support system to help them cope with the trials of growing up, especially in the world we live in today. However, bullying is different now.
What I think is happening, is that bullying isn't the same as most people remember. I'm a child of the 80s, in my mid-twenties now, and I feel I'm caught between generations. My peers were on the verge of this technological boom, this explosion in social networking sites. With the use of technology, bullying has been taken from something one has to deal with at school, to nonstop harassment with text messages, myspace, facebook, etc. Unless a teenager turns him/herself into a complete recluse, there is almost no way to escape the torment of their peers.
Most people think of bullying as it was "back then." Kids would make fun of someone because your shoes were hand me downs, someone had freckles, and so on. But this generation of teenagers are now growing up completely absorbed in a violent, sex filled, media driven world, and with that bullying has changed as well. I believe they see much more violence and sex than we could ever imagine. When PG-13 movies are allowed to show 50 murders (think "Vantage Point"), but are rated "PG-13" because "no blood is shown during the murder," or if you flip to MTV for five minutes and see how acceptable borderline nudity and sex in general is, it brings them to a completely different playing field than the generation before did. The kids and teenagers now try to emulate what they see filled around them, to the point of destruction of other's. Their conscious of what is right and wrong is completely off base, and to an extreme most have never seen.
With that said, the WAY these children and teenagers bully their peers now is very, very different. It's much more extreme than most could ever imagine, because most didn't grow up in the world they live in now. Children and teens "gang up" on the bullied child so that EVERYONE turns on them. They become the outcast of the school with no peers to turn to for support. Kids aren't just made fun of, through these social sites and texting their told extreme things, nonstop, all day long like "You should just go die." They live in a world that violent deaths are "no big deal," and telling someone to go kill themselves is, in their minds, "acceptable behavior." Plus, these social networking sites allow kids to hide behind the computer screen and send even more cruel messages, without anyone to judge them. I'm not anti-facebook or anti-myspace, but some parents need to take much more control over if/when/and how these sites are used, especially the parents of the kids doing the bullying.
I think that even with supportive parents, children and teens can be driven into such a deep depression because the torment isn't contained to the school yard, where a child has the chance to escape the bullying when they leave school. With all these means to technology, and without much parental oversight with computer usage, children and teens can become trapped in the world of bullying. People are so quick to ask, "Where were the parents of this poor child who killed him/herself?" But where are the parents of the children who are doing the bullying?
A girl feeling the need to kill herself at 15 years old over her peers tormenting her is terrible. If some sort of anti-bullying bill is passed to help a child or teen escape the torment of the modern bullying, if it helps save a teen's life and his/her parents, and also holds other parents accountable for their children's tormenting actions, I don't see the harm.