You CAN Sit With Us (by Jasmine Pham)

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As said in one of my favorite movies, “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US” (Mean Girls). This quote is one of the most popular phrases from the movie Mean Girls, and displays how simple yet effective bullying can be on the adolescent mind in schools. Very often the media portrays bullying as pushing and shoving when in actuality bullying is done more mentally than physically now a days. Because of this switch from physical to mental abuse, bullying is harder to spot therefore harder to control. For the past two and a half years, I have been working with the Blind Children’s Learning Center to help educate the visually impaired. Since I work hands on with the students and have been doing so for a good amount of time, I have built such a close relationship with these kids and it pains me to see them outside of the classroom getting picked on for their disabilities. Seeing this first hand happen to my students really opened my eyes to the amount of mental abuse that takes place within the adolescent age group for all sorts of different abnormalities. For this reason, I have been researching about the broad topic of education throughout this past quarter and learned many things about the young mind. The most significant fact about a child’s mind is that it has the ability to soak up information quickly and in mass quantities, like a sponge. Children are highly susceptible to picking up habits they encounter every day, and if we as adults choose to allow bullying to happen to children then we are shaping the future to unfold with bullying as an excepted normality. This poses the age old question… What is the cause of bullying and how can we limit the amount of victims?

The cause of bullying has been a topic of debate for a while. Many people believe that children’s emotional issues are the main trigger of bullying, but current research has data to counter argue that idea. The Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry did a 24 year controlled experiment to examine if emotional instability in a child has a direct effect on whether or not bullying will occur. The data that they collected showed throughout the 24 years, an increase of mental health help has been obtained leading to the decrease of emotional issues in most children. However, the data also showed that the decrease in emotional issues played no role in changing the number of bullied victims (Duffy). This research has opened up the minds of many to look for different causes of bullying and look to different tactics to eliminate the problem.

Some researchers have already looked into different causes of bullying during the time the previous 24 year research was being done. In the article, The Role of School Context and Family Factors in Bullying and Cyberbullying, the authors looked into how environmental factors can play a large role in a student’s behavior and lead to a higher number of bullying in the area. Humans in general are shaped greatly by their surroundings, so it is understandable to see where these researchers are coming from. The results of their investigation of the students’ environments showed that there was a smaller likelihood of bullying being reported in voluntary-aided schools than in community and foundation schools (Bevilacqua). Therefore, the evidence supports their claim that lower quality schools are more susceptible to having bullying occur within their institution. Having the evidence point to environmental factors leading to bullying, we are now able to change how we educate the future youth on the issue of bullying and try to limit the amount of problems that arise due to these accounts. The majority of bullying that has long-term negative effects happen to children under the age of 12. Children who were bullied under the age of 12 have a more difficult time coping with the adverse effects of bullying even in their older stages than those who were bullied after the age of 12 (Martin-Pinon). If we are able to limit the amount of children bullied under the age of 12, then we may be able to limit the effects of bullying and get closer to eliminating the issue all together.

Our community has made great progress in the past couple decades on researching the topic of bullying and coming closer to figuring out how to limit its occurrence. However, we still have many more steps to go before we are able to fully understand what causes bullying and how to stop it, so as a community it is our duty to educate ourselves on these topics more because they directly affect our children and future children. There are various foundations already created in support of anti-bullying. If you would like to get involved, you can donate your time to talk to students about the effects bullying have on others or you can donate money to help put on events that promote anti-bullying. Some of these organizations include Upstand, Impacting Students, and Stomp Out Bullying. The more we do to educate our youth, the more likely it is that they won’t repeat the same mistakes we struggled with. Let’s do our part to change the popular Mean Girl’s quote to, “You CAN sit with us”.

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