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Bullying is a serious problem for the Youth of Tuolumne County. Although not everyone is bullied on a regular basis, the problem of bullying is present no matter where you go. Bullying causes problems ranging from physical anxiety that can cause stomach aches, muscle aches, and diarrhea to stress and mental instability for individuals who are bullied. Those who are bullied are unable to focus and perform their best in school and are less able to learn. Bullying also has consequences for schools as a whole. As more people are bullied, they often become bullies themselves because of their insecurity and a vicious cycle forms. However, bullying is not a single person event; in fact most experts agree that most bullying takes place in the presence of three parties.

Party number one is the bully or bullies. Most often, bullies are insecure about themselves and are not comfortable being challenged by other people. Subconsciously, bullies seek to elevate their own status by degrading others. Usually a bully or bullies try to look tough in the eyes of those around them so that they can feel good about themselves. Thus, most bullying takes place in the presence of bystanders. Bullies may work in groups or they may work alone. Groups of bullies with the same problems and insecurities feel comfortable with each other and have similar goals. Bullies aren’t necessarily bad people, their circumstances and social statuses are usually the cause of their negativity and feelings of insecurity.

Party number two is the bullied. The bullied may be a person or a group of people with common attributes. The bullied are often quieter and less imposing than the bully and so they are an easy target. The bullied are also commonly different in some way or another from most other people. Something they do, the way they behave or their social status is usually different from the other people around them. Because they are different, they are easy targets for the bully because bystanders are less likely to interfere or protect the bullied. The bullied often does not enjoy confrontation. Because bullying is a recurring event between the bully and the bullied, the bullied tries to avoid the bully because obviously, they don’t want to be bullied.

Often the biggest problem for the bullied is that they are afraid to report the bully. The bullied is usually embarrassed to talk about their experiences with the bully and thinks that others (including adults) will think less of them because they didn’t fight back or retaliate against the bully. The bullied does not want to draw attention to themselves or their embarrassing situation so they are often slow to get help for their bullying problem.

Party number three is the bystander. The bystander is everyone else who sees or knows about the bullying. Most participants in bullying are the bystanders. Sadly, the bystander can usually stop the situation but most often does not. A bully would not be able to be a bully if everyone who was aware of the situation stepped in and stopped the bully in their tracks. Neither would a bully try to degrade someone if they knew that most people would disapprove of their actions or report them. Because the bystander most often does nothing, the bully is able to act and does not fear bullying someone else.

The bystander is in the best position to act. The bystander is usually not being bullied themselves and so they don’t fear the bully as much. Also, the bystander is secure about their own situation so they aren’t trying to degrade other people. While the bullied may fear reporting the situation to an adult because of retaliation, the bystander has much less to fear from reporting the situation. The bystander could even step in during the act of bullying in order to stop or prevent it. However, most bystanders do nothing.

Often, the bystander does not feel obligated to act. They are not being bullied so why should they interfere? The startling thing however, is that most people are bystanders to bullying, most people could do something to stop the bullying but they usually don’t. Everyone is a bystander to bullying at one point or another so everyone has the power at one point or another to stop the situation before it becomes worse.

So let’s think about it. Everyone involved in bullying: the bully, the bullied, and the bystander could do something to stop bullying and therefore serve as a positive good for society. The bully could just stop being a bully. This is harder than it seems because usually they are a bully because of their situation and the situation usually has to be changed in order for the bully to stop being a bully. The bullied could report the bully and hopefully end the situation but often they are afraid to do so. The overwhelming majority of people participating in bullying just by being aware of it are perhaps the most able to act and stop the situation. So why don’t they? Some may not know that they can report and hopefully solve the situation.

We challenge you to be the positive good that stops bullying in its tracks. You can be the solution. You can stop bullying. It may seem insignificant to stop someone from teasing someone else but the effect can be huge. By taking a stand against bullying or encouraging others to do so, you empower all present to help stop bullying everywhere. Bullying causes fear and problems for many youth and you can make a difference.

Bullying in Tuolumne County is not nearly as bad as in other locales. There are no real gangs in Tuolumne County and the absence of major ethnic divisions makes bullying less likely to occur on a large scale. Although bullying is minimal in Tuolumne County, it is an alarming trend that is growing and we should do everything we can to stop it before it overwhelms us.

So ask yourself: Have you ever participated in bullying. What could you do to stop it? More importantly, what will you do in the future?