So at family dinner last night my little sister mentioned that one of the girls at her school got an in-school suspension. I was shocked, as I went to the same private middle school as my sister and no one, not even the guy who got six demerits in one week, had ever received any type of suspension.
My sister then proceeded to tell me about the school bully, a thirteen year old girl, who walked up to my sister’s friend and told her that she wished that the girl had been aborted in the womb. After my sister told me this, I tried to think back to my middle school experience with bullies. Despite how much pain they caused me in middle school, no one ever told me that they wished I had been aborted. No one had ever told me they wished I hadn’t been born.
I don’t care what side of the abortion debate you are on: that phrase should never be said to anyone.
Besides the fact that I think the girl should have been expelled, for saying something so horrible and unchristian (especially at a Catholic school), I am upset because it seems like the children of my sister’s generation are becoming nastier to each other than my generation ever was. Why do girls and boys think it is okay to say such horrible things to each other? I believe the answer is, because we let them. Not only does Facebook allow people to say whatever they want, but these children see their older siblings and the media criticizing celebrities and each other! Kids my sister’s age are committing suicide because their classmates now have several different types of social media to harass them with. What happened to the phrase Thumper taught us in that wholesome Disney movie about a sweet little deer?
Some people propose that we create a law that makes bullying illegal, but free speech, which includes having the ability to say nasty things about another person, is protected by the Constitution. Free speech was so important to our founding fathers that they made it the first Amendment, and I would not want to restrict a right that has been a part of our country since its founding. Besides, little girls are pretty good at being sneaky, and restricting their speech on social media will not do anything but force them to find new ways to torment each other. Social media makes it so easy to say what we think, and gives us the ability to spread messages of hate to millions of people instantly. This problem is exacerbated because there are few consequences for online hate speech.
I think that the bullying problem can be solved by a culture change. Let’s start by giving our brothers and sisters, and children a good example. They are constantly watching us, so if we all just take a moment to think before we speak, we can help change the culture. I constantly try to be aware of what I say and do in front of my sister and her friends, in the hopes of protecting them from bullies and preventing them from being a bully. I am far from perfect, but I hope that Alex sees me making an effort and decides to at least try to be more kind to those around her. As she and her friends run around outside tonight I hope that they will get the chance to grow into young women without being constantly inundated by hateful speech and a media that perpetuates bullying.
If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
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Preach. This is so true Angela. Some of the cyber bullying I’ve seen young kids go through would make me break down if it was turned on me. And it only makes kids meaner and more willing to be cruel in person.