I am sure that I am not the only student sick of it, sick of the constant lecturing on bullying. Always, teachers, guidance counselors, and outside “specialists” having us sit together in large groups and listen to the definition of “cyber bullying,” and what it means to be a “responsible bystander.” By now, I have begun to tune out these lectures. This is not because I think that bullying isn’t something important to discuss, but because it has been approached in the same black and white manner since I’ve been in the third grade. Another reason I’m turned off by these lectures is because they clearly are not working. A few weeks ago I witnessed the biggest display of bullying that I’ve seen in all my years in Hanover schools. Through the app Yik Yak, things were said about students that were so revolting that I cannot even discuss them now.
Recently I had discussed this issue with Dr. Raab, who made the decision to get the police involved in the matter. My first question for him was what, in particular, made him call the police. He responded by saying that he wanted to be sure he could trace the posts back to the phones they came from. This would become even more of a necessity if the situation escalated, like it did in a high school in Marblehead, Mass. There, a bomb threat posted on the website caused a school-wide evacuation. Other schools across the country have reported bullying with the app as well. Dr. Raab wanted to be sure that this would not happen at Hanover. Additionally, I had asked him how he felt these posts effected the environment of the school. He said that it caused to students to become paranoid. Paranoid that someone was posting about them or that they would be caught for what they posted.
For me, there were several things that seriously upset me about the day this notorious yak came charging into our school. First of all, I was disturbed by how other students reacted to the posts. Of course, there were many who were as troubled as I was about the day’s proceedings, but I was perturbed by the number of students that thought it was merely something to laugh about. When it was discussed in class and others could see that I was upset by it, many of them turned to me and said, “Oh my God, you need to learn how to take a joke.” It is not a joke and this kind of viewpoint is what makes this kind of bullying a frequent thing. As they laugh, it’s giving power to whatever insanity was posted on the feed. Lastly, whoever wrote those kinds of things on the Yik Yak wall must not understand what it does to people when they read posts like that about themselves. I can’t imagine them writing it if they did. They could not have known that it would send a girl home from school crying, a girl who isn’t able to tell her mom why she’s crying because she is too ashamed to say what others are saying about her. They definitely could not have known about the boy who would dread going to school because he knows what people are going to think as he passes by. If they did know what they were doing, then that is a cruelty that I’m not sure I can understand.
- Photo from http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/yik_yak_app_disabled_in_chicago_schools