The definition of bullying has changed

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

Robert Knight, Asst. Editor

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You’re at school, you’ve met the person you will hang out with forever, and you’ve become the best of friends. You go to the movies, the mall, each other’s houses, football games, plays, dances, concerts -you become nearly inseparable. Then one day, they start acting differently around you. They start treating you worse; you stop hanging out, you stop texting each other. They stop talking to you and start talking about you. You are told all of your flaws and your self confidence decreases. One could look at this as the end of a friendship, but sometimes that extends to experiencing bullying.

Bullying no longer typically starts with punches or someone pushing another into lockers. Bullying more frequently starts with verbal and social attacks, according to stopbullying.gov.

Physical bullying still exists but not as much as verbal harassment, which may include cyber bullying.

“Mean behavior is a problem with our world, not just a problem with Milford High School,” said assistant principal of Milford High School Seth Taboh. “Every single person has an opinion about every single thing, and everybody feels entitled to voice their opinion about everything, and I feel like that’s a big problem in America in general; lots of times [your opinions] are hurtful to people and there’s no reason for it.”

Taboh brings up the old saying if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, and how it still applies today, but not many of us are not applying it.

Bullying is a repeated, poisonous behavior that is a continuous cycle. According to stopbullying.gov, those who bully tend to abuse alcohol, get into physical or verbal fights easily, blame others for their problems and don’t accept responsibility for their own actions.

“What I consider to be bullying is that you have one kid that’s been targeted over a period of time by the same kid, or the same small group of kids,”  Taboh said.

Taboh also explains what happens a lot more here at our school. Taboh said that students will often take out their own frustrations for others.

“I’m having a bad day for whatever reason, I’m taking my bad day out on you, I’m being a jerk to you, that’s what we have a lot more of those smaller instances; and then we’ll talk to some people and we find out it’s not something that’s been going on forever; it was, yes, a mean inappropriate thing to say, but it’s not bullying — it’s mean behavior,” explained Taboh.

Those who are bullied tend to have decreased academic grades, could have depression and anxiety, loss of interests, changes in sleep and eating, etc.

A new study from mqmentalhealth.org shows a direct impact of bullying on mental health problems for years to come.

Taboh gets students every week who come down to talk to him about something they saw take place and or didn’t feel good about.

Milford has taken many steps to help prevent this from being a common occurrence.

“The way that I interact with the students, the way I expect my teachers to interact with students, it’s all about relationship building, so that at some point, I can sit a kid down and say ‘hey, I know that this is something you’ve been doing to this other kid all the time,’ and I can have a meaningful conversation with them about how their behavior impacts not only that kid, but all the other kids around them. That is how it changes our culture in the building.

“I know I don’t have relationships with the whole 1300 (students), but I want somebody to have a relationship with the whole 1300; I think that’s what we do a really good job at Milford High School is trying to have a go to person for every single kid in the building,” Taboh explained.

Taboh explained the importance of coming to teachers and administrators with problems.

“You gotta talk to us — no one’s a mind reader; kids do a really good job of masking their pain,” he said.  “So when you see something that you know just isn’t right, come talk to a teacher and administrator about it; There are a million things that we can do to change behavior.”

A MHS student describes what their experience was with bullying.

“In my younger years it was mostly just random kids, but as I got older it started to become the people I trusted, not all of them but it was a few,” explains a student. “I would say I was treated well but only when it benefited them in some way, if they could use it to manipulate me.” The student continued to say their “friend” would be overbearing, rude, and always tried to get in their business. “It made me very depressed and anxious for a while, I felt trapped in that friendship.” They were scared that if they said something the bully would be even more mean than before. “I’m more careful about who I trust, and I’m really good at spotting toxic behaviors, so I can protect myself and the other people I love,” the students advice would be to try and move away from that person, and find some new friends that will treat you right because you deserve better than that. “You will find people for who love you as you truly are, and give you the respect that you deserve.”

Some ways to know if your friend is being bullied is frequent headaches, stomach pains, changes in their eating during lunch, not getting enough sleep, not wanting to go to school or skipping often, avoidance of social situations, feelings of helplessness, loss of interest in school work, and much more.

Bullying and mean behavior is something that affects every school, every state, and there are ways to help stop this. Talk to a trusted adult, guardian, or friend. You’re not alone, and there are those out there who can help. It never hurts to tell, in fact, it heals.

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