A recent incident occurred in which a Los Angeles Postal Service employee choked an eleven-year- old girl who laughed at him for accidentally entering a women’s restroom. This serves as a reminder that bullying comes in all shapes and sizes. Despite the fact that the Postal worker, Daniel Villasenor, is fifty-five and should have known better, he engaged in bullying taken to its physical extreme. But reports state that the girl and one other taunted Villasenor before he reacted physically. One of the most common manifestations of bullying behavior is taunting, which was present in this instance. While it would be unfairly blaming the victim to state that she was categorically responsible for the way the man reacted, the incident does illustrate the fact that bullying is a cycle that harms everybody involved. And far too often, the bullied in turn becomes the bully.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Last year, cellphone video footage of four middle school students verbally abusing a bus monitor in Greece, New York went viral, resulting in a widespread community outcry. The students taunted Karen Klein, 68, and showered her with insults and profanity, while one student jabbed her arm with a book and made jokes about her weight. Although the worst thing the students did was tell her that she didn’t have any family because they all killed themselves to get away from her; Klein’s son committed suicide ten years ago. Sadly, kids aren’t just bullying other kids, but adults as well.
Unlike Villasenor though, Klein did not react by bullying, and the video footage was used as the basis for suspending the students for one year in addition to community service. Clearly, bringing bullying behavior to the attention of proper authorities instead of reacting negatively oneself can help put a stop to the cycle, and technology is a great tool for accomplishing this. While in this case it was video footage catching real life bullying, cell phone applications can be used to catch text-bullying in much the same way. For example, Word Bully™ by Iconosys, Inc. allows parents to keep track of bullying messages sent to their children so they can report such behavior and put a stop to it.
It is clear from recent events that bullying must be discouraged amongst all age groups. No matter how old you are, you can still get caught up in the destructive cycle of bullying– with disastrous results. Villasenor is facing up to a year in jail, and the little girl he choked is likely traumatized, if not physically than certainly emotionally. Indeed, bullying hurts more people than just the bullied, which is why it is more important than ever to work towards eliminating this terrible practice.
For more information on WordBully, visit the website at www.wordbully.net.