‘Alpha instinct’ of bullying goes beyond school walls

Brynn Wiley, Achona Staff

Cyber bullying, a form of relational aggression, continues to pose a problem within the lives of young adults.  The issue presents itself mostly in high schools, where the primary focus is placed upon whether teenagers wear the most popular clothes, drive the newest cars, or have Facebook on their smartphones. Although schools seem to place a large emphasis on waging an “Anti-Bullying War,” the war itself is still far from being decisively won.

The cyber form of bullying has emerged in the past ten years because of increased accessibility to the Internet so that even children of younger ages can bully online. The typical bully fits the persona of the high school “tough guy” and is usually the one who picks on younger students. But are the “tough guys” still the strongest kids on the block? The tides seem to be turning as cyber bullies, who may be smaller and weaker, gain power with access to the Internet. The effects of cyber bullying also create a larger impact on the victim’s life. Cyber aggression eliminates the home as a safe haven from the world. When the victim comes home to find cruel, hate messages online, home life is violated and threatened.

Cyber attacks haunt the victim throughout the day. The potential target lives in fear throughout the school day. The idea of not being able to escape the harsh reality of bullying can be just as hard to cope with as the physical abuse, leading to further mental and emotional health problems such as self-mutilation and possible suicides.

In order to ensure the safety of the students, schools have started to enact “Anti- Bullying” policies. Although these rules have been put in place, students and faculty have yet to strictly enforce the zero-tolerance policy. Are the people who have the power to control the main issue afraid to confront it? Schools might disregard the harsh reality of the issue when they are not pro-active in monitoring the use of school Internet systems or on students’ use of personal digital devices, such as cell phones, digital cameras, personal computers, and PDAs, while on campus.

Uninformed adults argue that bullying is a natural and necessary part of growing up. However, these individuals have never been exposed to the realities of the cyber world when they were young. The balance of power is challenged when younger, and more naïve people realize that they too can harm online friends and purely walk away from the scene of the crime. Cyber bullying is not something that the high school world needs to take lightly because, even if bullying is a human’s “alpha instinct,” the main purpose of bullying is to tear down the weaker being, often leaving the target in a state of emotional or mental distress. If the ability to take a stand against bullying is not grasped by influential people in charge, then the war on situational aggression, cyber or face to face, will continue to rage on with no signs of perishing.