Bullying has been a serious problem in the United States for a long time, but has only recently been given the attention it deserves. It has been linked to self-esteem issues, substance use and suicide. As a community we need to work harder to protect our students by promoting a sense of acceptance instead of targeting members of our community who are different than the majority and who suffer from teasing and name calling.

Bullying is intentional behavior aimed to harm another person. 20 percent of children who attend school experience bullying. Some of the tactics bullies use are creating an imbalance of power, aggressive behavior and repetition. Aggressive behavior includes a physical or verbal attack intended to cause bodily harm or shame. An imbalance of power occurs when the bully has either more social or physical power. This makes the bully able to overpower the victim in many ways. In addition to this, repetition is also very important. It places fear in the victim’s mind because they do not know when the next attack is going to be. Most of the time people bully others in order to cope with trauma in their own life, such as divorce of their parents or loss of a loved one. However, these are still not an excuses to treat others badly.

Recently, a fifth grader named Raniya Wright who lived in Waterboro, S.C., lost her life because of a bullying incident. Raniya had been complaining for over a year that a girl at school was bothering her, so Raniya’s mother informed the teacher that she expected her to handle the situation. However, in actuality, the teacher ignored the mother’s concerns. The bullying got so bad that Raniya would often ask to stay home from school. On March 25, Raniya had gotten into a fight with the girl who was bullying her. The bully slammed her head into a bookshelf and Raniya was seriously injured and sent to the nurse’s office. The nurse had waited until lunchtime to inform her mother that she was okay, but she was complaining of dizziness and a headache. Raniya’s condition worsened while she was at school, and the school neglected to notify her mother. When she became unconscious the paramedics came and took her to the closest hospital. Her mother was then notified and she arrived at the hospital to find her daughter unconscious and hooked up to machines. Two days later, on March 27, Raniya died in the hospital.

Just as this story shows, bullying is a serious problem in the United States school systems because parents send their children to school with the expectation that they are going to be safe. Schools are not doing enough to meet this expectation. This whole situation could have been avoided if the school had been more involved and took care of the problem when it was first brought up. Instead of ignoring Raniya’s mother, the school should have taken her concerns seriously and removed the bully from the classroom. In the future, schools need to implement stricter standards for bullying and more effective ways of addressing these situations, because it is not something to be joked about, and it can lead to major complications.

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