FORT MILL --
On Dec. 4, Fort Mill High Schools All YOUth on Board club hosted a bullying forum at a Fort Mill School Board meeting.
To an audience dominated by parents, the students offered facts and statistics about the nature, types, victims and instigators of bullying. At the end of the presentation, students revealed their club motto, Dont bully, think fully, and answered questions from the audience.
There was much attention focused on preventing bullying in Fort Mill schools.
Since I am a senior Fort Mill High School, I thought I would share my personal outlook on the forum and bullying in our area.
According to the members of All YOUth, bullying can involve many forms of psychological and physical harassment, and always involves a damaged victim.
Bullying can be so many things, said Trent Chantemerle, a member of All YOUth. Weve all been a bully and weve all been bullied.
Bullying is so hard to define because truthfully, everyone reacts differently to various levels of teasing or harassment.
Jessica Clark, another student in All YOUth, distinguished between teasing a friend and maltreatment.
Teasing is just joking around with someone, but you have to make sure they know. Bullying is stronger and really hurts inside, she said.
Even with this clarification, the line between typical teenage banter and bullying is still too relative to spell out for students on posters and brochures.
The reality is, a lot of teenagers are bullied, and a lot of teenagers are emotionally sensitive for other reasons. These two groups often get confused, and unhealthy situations regularly go undistinguished from teasing or hormonal issues.
So how are we, as an education community, supposed to stop people from bullying if we cant define it or perfectly identify it?
Some believe there is no true end to bullying.
Its been happening for two thousand years, and it isnt going to stop in some high school board meeting, Chantemerle said.
If there was a way to stop it, we would have known by now.
Others present at the forum suggested educating younger students on fair treatment of others before they were old enough to be psychologically hostile.
Assistant Superintendent Tommy Schmolze said students must learn to show empathy for their peers.
Sympathy is not enough. I have to take on that persons emotion and internalize it before I can stand up for them, Schmolze said.
I think that, while all of the solutions or rejections thereof at the forum were thoughtful, the ambiguous definition of bullying itself obstructs many efforts to abolish it.
People will always be hateful to each other, but mistreatment has recently become a popular issue because of skyrocketing rates of self-harm and teen suicide.
I know so many people my age who think the only way to handle their problems, including teasing and harassment, is to hurt themselves, with drugs and or physical objects.
What if, in addition to being nice and the golden rule, we were taught how to approach our anger and sadness in healthier ways?
I dont know enough about bullying, education, or adolescent psychology to prescribe a solution to bullying.
I can only say that the life-threatening effects of it can be dealt with a lot faster and easier than the acts.