My Big Mouth by Stevie Joy

As a society, we need to educate ourselves about bullying. Whether it’s cyber bullying, physical, or verbal — it’s hurtful.

To anyone reading this right now, I want you to ask yourself if you’ve ever been a victim, perpetrator, bystander, or upstander. All of us have stories that shape us as people. Do you have a moment in your life you constantly find yourself reflecting upon?

Bullying is a horrible and deadly epidemic. According to information I found on stopbullying.gov — “Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say that they have been bullied at school. Many fewer have been cyber-bullied. Most bullying happens in middle school. The most common types are verbal and social bullying.”

Personally, I think most bullies are weak. They feel like they have to pick on someone else in order to feel better about themselves. You never know what a person is going through, and that’s why we have to treat people with compassion. Just because someone is bullying you doesn’t mean you should bully them back; two wrongs don’t make a right. You should always reach out for help whether it’s a teacher, counselor, or parent — don’t be afraid to speak up.

I think with all of the technology we have, cyber-bullying soon will start to become a bigger epidemic. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey In 2018 and they asked teens ages 13 to 17 from the United States about social media and the internet. 52% said they used the platform Instagram. 24% said social media has a negative impact and creates a space for hate. It is a very interesting study with fascinating statistics, if you would like you can read the rest on pewinternet.org.

I think social media has a good and bad influence. Social media is great when you want to talk with your friends and send funny posts, but on the other hand it gives people the opportunity to run away from cruel behavior. On Instagram you are able to delete your direct messages, so if you send something hurtful you have the ability to erase it. But if the person sees it before you delete the post the emotional effects are everlasting.

Once you share something, it is never truly gone. There are screenshots and screen recordings which can preserve something you regret sharing. So if people were more conscious about the things they say maybe we wouldn’t have to be searching for excuses for our actions?

If you would like you can share your story with me either in the comments of this column or directly to my email @steviejoym@me.com. You are never alone.

Stevie Joy lives in Belmont Shore and is an eighth grader at Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles.

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