Last week, we ran a weeklong series on bullying — and you had a lot to say about it.
Here's a roundup of some of the comments and feedback we received on those stories, which included conversations with both victims and perpetrators, and looks at topics like whether bullying is linked to violence, rates of bullying against LGBT people and people of the Sikh religion and the rise of cyberbullying.
What part of the conversation on bullying are we missing? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your thoughts.
Here's a web comment from reader Ben Opie, who described how bullying has had a lasting impact on his life:
I was bullied by a group of classmates, mostly in elementary school, though it followed me through high school. I can remember the first and last names of my core fourth grade bullies, but couldn't name for you another classmate. When you're on the receiving end, it stays with you. I have no idea if any of my tormentors feel any remorse in retrospect. If I had to guess, probably not. It was just an amusement for them.
Amy Wolff left this Facebook comment on our interview with Tyler Gregory, who cyberbullied a girl from another school and now works to protect young people from bullying:
There's this part of me that is so angry at the idea that perpetrators get a voice in this, but maybe it stems from my own jealousy that none of my bullies (of which I had many at the beloved Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley middle and high schools) have ever done the same. Some have had the audacity to add me on Facebook never taking a moment to apologize. They just want to know, maybe, that I made it out alive so they can feel better about themselves that they didn’t ultimately cause my death. At least Tyler has done something productive with that bullying and did eventually apologize, but again, hearing those voices is difficult.
Web commenter Kim Bennett recommended we dig deeper into how bullying affects victims, like her son:
My son was bullied throughout middle school and it has impacted every aspect of his life since. He struggles with depression and a lack of self confidence. He is slowly working through this but has missed out on a lot, as he kept himself shielded and alone to avoid more pain. I wish you would talk about the long shadow which bullying casts on the victims' lives.
Dennis Hicks said he was moved by anti-bullying advocate Aasees Kaur's story of how she and her brother, both of the Sikh faith, were bullied:
I wept as I listened to the ... program when I heard these young children are suffering so for their faith which is not responsible for terrorism. I [am] ashamed these things are happening in my country. I offer apologies to any Sikhs who have suffered at the hands of our culture. I long to find ways that I can make a difference by modeling peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. I stand firmly in opposition to this kind of fearful ignorant misguided bullying. I welcome Sikhs and extend a hand of welcoming and love to you all.
Simran Jeet Singh shared this tweet about our conversation with Kaur:
Lucy Garrick told us via Facebook she wonders about bullying's capacity to bring about more bullies:
Is this news? I believe that most bulliers were bullied, similarly to how most [molesters] were molested, etc. But what I wonder is about the ones who don't. I worked with a boy who bullied because he saw it as payback. But there are lots of people who experience bullying and how bad it feels, and as a consequence resolve to never knowingly inflict the same pain on others. How is empathy developed - what are the base ingredients in which empathy, rather than retaliation grows? Is there some stepping stone in emotional development that gets missed in the bully?
Based on my own experiences, one of the issues is how perpetrators don't think of their actions as bullies. I know from experience of being bullied ruthlessly in elementary and middle school, while I simultaneously bullied another kid in my school.
I was the fat kid, the kid who didn't listen to trendy or current music, who wore almost nothing but sweat pants, didn't know sports, wasn't good at sports, and so I was regularly picked on over this. I was miserable and couldn't understand how they could be so cruel and unfair.
But in retrospect I think back on the kid who I couldn't stand because he was childish, who recited the sappy "playground rules" from the educational song when trying to join in a game, who obsessed over the kids shows and books the rest of us had outgrown, I took sadistic pleasure in being cruel to him. Of course, I never imagined I was doing anything wrong. This kid was weird, annoying, stupid, so I was "pranking" him, or just goofing off, or trying to make him leave me alone. Looking back on it I'm certain he's on autism spectrum disorder, and I'm ashamed at how being bullied myself did not give me the self awareness to realize I was just as capable a bully as my tormentors.
This is so annoying. Yes bullying is an issue. No we shouldnt be telling our kids to be nicer to each other in order to not piss off the loner. The issue is unchallenged white supremacy. Toxic masculinity. Aka teaching boys to bottle their feelings and expressing anger violently is ok. When ppl act out we need to call it what it is from the get-go before issues get worse. These men are ticking time bombs because no one taught them how to process their emotions not just cuz they were bullied
Schools should incorporate a monthly session that helps children and adults (the teachers, administrators, janitors etc.) have confidence to stand up for themselves and for others. As a school girl I often stood up for others. I was not one of the popular pupils, but I had a sense of what is right and not right. I would have benefitted by guidance of how to deal with bullies. Such sessions will help these children as they become adults.