The Roots of Bullying

Natalie Dearman, Staff Writer

Many schools have problems with bullying, so of course, there are bullying programs. The faculty puts up signs and flyers on the walls saying things like “Don’t bully”, “No hate”, and “Respect your peers”. It makes people think of general and typical things like calling someone a name or talking about them behind their back. However, what the school doesn’t put out there, and does not like to talk about, are the actual roots of bullying.

Many of these things are sensitive topics, so it would be expected that school faculty would not be up front about it. But in order to address the actual issues, eventually these sensitive topics need to be dealt with and put out in the open.

Many, for example, are things such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and religious discrimination. And because many people in American schools are Christian, sometimes the values tend to interfere, skewing the way people think they can treat others. Just because a certain religion says something against a part of another person’s identity, does not give them the right to bully or discriminate upon them in the name of religion.

In some cases, the bullying is not intentional. The bully may not realize that what they just said or did was extremely hurtful or offensive to that other person. One of the most common incidents is using slurs. In today’s society, they tend to be used way too casually and frequently, and most of the time the person using the slur has no idea that it even is one. Typically, teachers do not know how to address this problem, especially if a student uses their religion to justify their actions. It also tends to be a slippery slope when trying to have rules that protect certain students from bullying, especially LGBT students.

Sometimes people tend to get too caught up in their idea of “right and wrong” based off of their personal morals, when really the one thing that really matters is the safety and well-being of the students. People need to be taught that this world is filled with diversity, and just because someone is different from you, whether that is religion or sexuality, does not give them any less value or right to safety or respect than you do. Diversity needs to be embraced, not looked down upon.

Because the reality is, not everyone is going to white, Christian, or straight—and most people are not. We need to stop labeling such a specific identity as the superior being, and start accepting people for who they are. A basic personal identity should not put someone in danger. Until we start addressing the real issues, and stop sweeping things under the rug, the vague mottos on anti-bullying campaigns are not going to work. Faculty needs to focus on the real priority of bullying programs—and that is protecting every student, no matter their identity, or the intent of the bullying; because there is never a valid justification to hurting another person.