The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

October 7, 2012

Time to stand up, speak out against bullying

Special to the Herald-Banner

— Bullying is defined as an act of repeated physical or emotional victimization of a person by another person or a group.

For the longest time people have seen bullying as a kid tough-out game, but in reality bullying is the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation and pretty much in the whole world.

Bullying for many is seen as a form of hate crime. According to the FBI, the third most common location for a hate crime to occur is on a school or college campus. Most eight to 15-year-olds picked “teasing and bullying” as the “biggest problem” at their school over those who picked drug, alcohol, racism or pressure to have sex.

Every day more than 160,000 students skip school because they are afraid to be bullied at school. Bullying is now considered a serious threat to students ability to fully enjoy the educational opportunities and benefits of their school.

According to the National Center of Learning Disabilities, 20 percent of children reported having been the victim of severe bullying at least once during the school year; 25 percent reported being bullied in the last six months; 50 to 75 percent reported being bullied at some point during their school years.

The report also showed that 40 to 75 percent of bullying incidents in school took place during class breaks, bathrooms, hallways and in the lunchroom. An alarming 40 percent of children who reported having been bullied said they brought weapons to school. It is said that numbers will never lie and the numbers been given on bullying are telling us there is a problem at our schools.

There are many reasons or perhaps no real reason on why bullying occurs. As much as 95 percent of all bullying is done by those looking to protect or increase their status within a group. Bullies maintain their “in balance of power” by pointing out things that make others different.

These differences could be overweight, tallness, clothing styles, speaking with an accent, ethnicity, religious preference, loners, gifted children or sexual identity and preferences. Bullying comes in many forms but no matter what form it comes, someone will always get hurt.

For years, government, schools and courts have wrestled with how to deal with the issue of bullying. Thanks to technology, growing activism, dissatisfied students, parents, educators and legislators are finally banding together as one unified voice.

After years of being swept under the rug as a kid tough-out game and part of growing up, bullying is finally being recognized as an epidemic that is getting the attention it deserves. It’s time for people to become part of the solution.

I’ve always heard that solutions and problems start at the home.I urge parents to bring the topic of bullying out in the open, participate in your child’s online life.

Educate your children about responsible online behavior and tell them about the dangers of sharing personal information. Instruct your children to immediately notify you or an adult when they encounter cyber bullying, bullying or hate related behavior.

Teach your children to ally with peers who may be targeted by bullies or cyber bullying. Restrict the time your teens spend online and supervise your teen’s online activities. Set an example, children are keen observers of adult behavior. Stress personal responsibility in your child and show them the importance of respecting others. A circle of respect equals a bully-free world. To my bullied victims, its time to stand up and  stamp out those bullies!

•Stand Up to bullies

•Tell Someone

• Avoid Bad Situations

• Make New friends

• Project Confidence

 Always remember that you are a good person with many talents and strengths, never let someone tell you otherwise.

Bullying must never be tolerated. No child should ever witness peer cruelty. No child should ever suffer harm inflicted by a peer. No child should ever intentionally cause another child pain. Let us work for a goal to break the cycle of violence, stop peer cruelty and provide our children with caring, safe and respectful environments they so deserve.

In celebration of the national anti-bulling month, I urge everyone to partner with me to stop bullying and start empathy; make a difference and spread the message of bullying awareness.

 So stand up, speak out, lend a hand, be an up-stander rather than a bystander. Together we can be the generation that makes bullying history.

Velez is Miss Hunt County’s Outstanding Teen 2012 and has been a victim of bullying.