Bullying is a tough topic for me to know exactly where I stand. I’m anti-bullying, that’s for sure, but it’s sometimes hard for me to know what bullying is. Physical bullying, threats, intimidation, that’s obvious.
But what about cyber-bullying, especially when it takes the form of “opinion”? Don’t we all have the right to our opinion?
I’m all about free speech, and I have pretty thick skin, so I hate to say that we should limit others’ speech. But what about when others are making blatantly hurtful statements? Not statements of opinion, per se, but statements that are designed solely to hurt others?
Last month, someone posted a picture of an ex-cheerleader on Facebook. The idea was to heckle another sports team, but it devolved into talking about how ugly and fat the cheerleader was. On one hand, people are entitled to their opinions. This girl put herself into a public venue, so doesn’t that make her fair game? On the other hand, she’s a young woman who has done nothing to deserve the ridicule. Putting down a healthy young lady is just one more symptom of our skewed body image issues here in the US.
When I was little, people told me, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you.” We all know that’s not true; words do hurt. But doesn’t how much they hurt depend on the person receiving them, not the person saying them?
Maybe instead of fighting against bullying and trying to make the world “nicer,” we should concentrate on making our young people stronger. This young lady took her hurt and made a YouTube video fighting back against the people who were mean. That’s strength. It hurt me when I was 6 and a boy called me “Pigface.” But I got over it. I grew up, got stronger and more sure of myself. Bullying is going to happen, no matter how much we all raise awareness, so I say that we should prepare for it and learn skills to manage it.