So this week I started to watch ’13 Reasons Why’ on Netflix, based on the novel of the same title. If you’ve watched it, you will know it deals with sensitive issues such as teenage suicide, bullying and sexual violence. The fact the school in the story is so passive and unaware of the issues occurring in Hannah Baker’s life got me thinking that this is in fact the case in most High Schools these days. And it got me thinking of many other things and it lead me to this thought- “it’s just high school.” What does that even mean?
Surely high school is meant to be for learning, educating the masses and being able to get onto the next stage in your life. However, from American Media Products such as Mean Girls, Gossip Girl and even High School Musical (influence at a young age) we as an audience learn about Cliques, the popular crowds and the way they treat people. Now whereas the protagonists in these products always reach a new equilibrium and end up on top- we must remember that real life doesn’t always get a happy ending and cliques and bullying can be fatal.
It left me thinking of my own experiences with Bullying, how I was a target because I was bigger than other girls. My weight was treated like a magnet for unwanted attention, bare in mind I was a size twelve, a perfectly healthy size. My bullies were hunters, looking for anything to hold against me and damage me with- including information to do with my personal family life, which in turn destroyed my parents marriage. I’m not bitter, I just want to stress that a snap judgement can become a grudge or a hobby. Ironically, when I dropped the weight, everybody wanted to be my best friend and pretended like they had always been that way.
People find it as a source of entertainment and status at that age, not acknowledging the victim and their feelings. I have recently read an article where a young girl of thirteen years old committed suicide after being gang raped by older boys who were paid off by girls her own age, after they had been bullying her for five years. The school knew about it, and did nothing. A life gone because of barbaric individuals who grouped together to cause havoc.
And with my own experiences, my school did nothing but want to put me in a room with them on my own to clear the air. This was after being held against a locker and threatened- so that’s completely safe right?
When girls are bullying more vulnerable, insecure girls the excuse “girls will be girls” is used, completely ignoring the fact somebody’s life is being damaged. But if a guy starts to sexually harass somebody and somebody says “boys will be boys” it’s disgusting- that’s why rape wasn’t dealt with that much years ago. And the same is being done with girls.
Parents also don’t know how to accept responsibility for their kids’ actions- if they have done something wrong, punish them. Teach them that reinforment from an early age, because if you deny every bad thing they do- eventually they will have you wrapped around their finger and they will get away with murder and expect you to pick up everything for them.
Preventative measures can be made from a young age. Encourage the child to be positive, heartwarming and complimentary instead of judgemental, arrogant and spiteful. If you notice your child say bad things about people or laugh, tell them off, it’s simple socialisation.
And schools should definitely have more suicide hotlines available on hand, mental health advisors and better counsel. School counsellors should be more empathetic and less concerned over whether the patient is doing their work or not. And each school should have an anti bullying scheme and make the consequences known and harsh, so people are less likely to offend.
What do you think? I think it’s startling that suicide and self harm rates are going up from a young age and there’s definitely a reason for that. There’s also more stories in the media about children being bullied, more videos going viral where teenagers are being violent to each other. If this is being ignored now, it’s going to get much worse.
Please, think of others before you speak or act.