"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself." -Harvey S. Firestone

By Molly Friend, Greenheart Outreach Coordinator

Greenheart held our Second Annual National Essay Contest for all CCI exchange students and their high school classmates this year.  Students were asked to describe a social or environmental issue they are passionate about and to share what actions they have taken to address this issue or their plans to address the issue in the future. The winning essay receives a $500 grant to do a  Greenheart project at their high school. We received an overwhelming amount of wonderful essays, from inspiring youth across the country. It was a difficult choice but finally after carefully reviewing them all, a winner was chosen.

Glen Williams of Timbercreek High School in Keller, Texas won with his inspiring essay on bullying. Glen addresses a relevant and urgent issue in society today and also expressed his commitment to stop bullying.  Congratulations Glen!

Read his essay below.

A Case Against Bullying
By Glen Williams

Although most of my classmates have chosen to talk about environmental problems — subjects such as invasive species, the effects of dwindling biodiversity, or something as basic as common pollution of our planet — I have chosen to write about a social issue that is a major problem in today’s schools. Bullying is apparent. It exists, unbeknownst to the naive few that believe it has been eradicated. One in six students are bullied, and over five hundred thousand cases of bullying are reported each year. Bullying is an issue; bullying does leave scars, and if bullying doesn’t get muzzled soon, then it can become fatal.

The majority of the population of students, if asked, will deny being bullied. Their reason being they don’t want it to get worse, or they don’t want their peers to know, or even they just believe that it will eventually end, and in some cases it does. In others, not so much. I have come to know this from the countless cases of bullying that I have read, and those cases that I, myself, have experienced. It is a major cause of teen depression, and leader of teen suicide. Bullying is an issue that needs to be dealt with more severity.

There are many causes for being bullied. Most kids that are bullied are considered as social outcasts, such as a kid who watches too much anime, a kid who is homosexual, or a kid who isn’t as strong and muscular, or as tall and attractive as his fellow classmates. These are unfair and unjust. Who has the right to deem another human being as socially unacceptable or the right to put them down? This is intolerable, and it is a problem that must be dealt with.

A bully is any person, a student, a friend, maybe even a teacher, that causes physical and emotional harm upon another human being. There are many types of bullying, but all forms fall into two categories: mental and physical bullying. Girls suffer most from mental bullying, in forms of gossip, not being invited to sleep-overs, name calling, etc. Boys suffer the most from physical bullying, beating kids up and throwing stuff at them. Bullies are often found claiming their actions as ‘fun and games’, but the truth, is they are dealing severe and traumatizing damage to kids that are too young to understand what is actually happening.

Earlier before, I stated that there are many types of bullying, and in them I included teachers being bullies. Believe it or not, in two percent of bullying cases reported, the bully is the teacher, generally in middle school or elementary school. Teachers, although caring and compassionate, have been known to single out a student and, for what ever the reason, pick on them on a daily basis. A bully is a bully, no matter who they are or what they do.  When a teacher bullies a student, there is no difference. The damage is done, and the experience can be very traumatizing as their peers join in on the bullying, humiliating and embarrassing the student. As a student, I have viewed teacher-student bullying and I noticed that the more the teacher taunted the child, the less he started to show up in class. I’ve recently heard that one of the students I observed being bullied had dropped out of high school, in the second semester of his junior year.

In May 2011, a fourteen-year old boy named Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide. Jamey was bullied for being homosexual. He stated online at Tumblr, a social networking site, “No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me faggot and tearing me down.” A week later, Jamie took his own life. There was an investigation, and a peer posted to Jamie “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!” As the parents of Jamie try to move on through this ordeal, they hope that others can learn from the effects that bullying can have on a person and see that a national law on bullying be enacted.

Cyber bullying, or a form of bullying over any media device, is just as bad. The internet, although a great creation, has sped up the effects of bullying. I have noticed more and more reported cases of bullying that have happened over social networks such as Myspace, Facebook, and Tumblr. When cyber bullying takes place, peers tell people they don’t even know atrocious things, things that led Jamie Rodemeyer to no other choice. Cyber bullying is the most notorious form of bullying today, mostly due to the fact that you have no control over the situation and that you don’t know who is saying what is said. The best way to deal with this form of bullying is to avoid the website where you are bullied, meaning block users on certain websites, or just avoiding them all together. If the website has an active administration, also consider appealing to the admin.

If you suspect your child, or your friend is the victim of bullying, many people would say ignoring it is the best method of attack. This is incorrect, the best way to approach bullying is to find the bully and discuss the situation. Have an unbiased adult or teacher stand by to assess the situation, but what ever happens, you must stay strong. Don’t give in to the bully’s attacks of desperation. If this method doesn’t work, take the situation a step higher and consult your school board immediately, or request a hearing by a local court.

To stop bullying in my school, I have openly stood up for kids I see being bullied by his or her peers. I stand up for them when no one else will, even if it’s my friend who is bullying. Although I am one person, each rain drop raises the sea, and I’ve started seeing more and more of my friends doing it for others. My school has a zero tolerance bullying policy, meaning that if they find a student bullying another, then he gets sent straight to ISS (In School Suspension), and if the case is serious enough, even suspended or expelled. I am proud to go to the school I go to for this reason, but this doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen. I do the best I can, but when you go to a school where bullying is rewarded by students, there is only so much one can do. One rain drop raises the sea, yes, but a hurricane can level the foundations of which malevolent monuments maintain themselves.