Issues

5 Essays About Bullying

There have always been bullies, but in more recent years, society has become more aware of the impacts of bullying. With the rise of the internet and social media, cyberbullying has also become a serious issue. In 2018, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics reported that ⅓ of young teens worldwide recently experienced bullying. Overall, boys are at a higher risk than girls – 32% compared to 28%. However, in countries with the most incidents of bullying, girls experienced more. Bullying can drive young people to suicide, self-harm, and other tragic consequences. Here are five essays that shed light on the issue:

“The Origins of Bullying”

Author: Hogan Sherrow  | From: Scientific American
Sherrow opens his guest post on the Scientific American blog with the story of Jamey Rodemeyer. At age 14, the teen posted messages online describing the pain he endured from bullying and then took his own life. Sadly, this is not uncommon. In this 2011 essay, Sherrow explores why people bully others. Where does this type of behavior come from? To address bullying effectively, we need to understand the roots of bullying. He first defines bullying and presents evidence that bullying is something found in every culture. Sherrow describes it as a “part of the human condition.” Things take a turn into other species as Sherrow asks the question, “Is bullying unique to humans?” Based on research, bullying-like behaviors are found in other animals, including other primates.

This essay presents interesting scientific research on the root of bullying and how it’s evolved in humans. Hogan Sherrow is an assistant professor of anthropology at Ohio University and the director of the Hominid Behavior Research project.

“Instagram Has a Massive Harassment Problem”

Author: Taylor Lorenz | From: The Atlantic
This essay opens up with the story of someone who experienced Instagram harassment. At age 14, Brandon joined Instagram to share about his life and rare condition. Soon, he was bombarded with hateful messages, including death threats. It ruined his high school experience. Brandon’s story is just one of countless others where people – often very young teens – are bullied through Instagram. The platform does not have a good track record on monitoring or addressing the bullying. This contrasts sharply with the polished image it projects and markets itself with. While sites like Youtube and Twitter have had bigger dealings with harassment, Instagram seems like an oasis for the internet. What is it doing exactly? According to users who have faced horrific threats, not much. Author Taylor Lorenz is a former staff writer for The Atlantic.

“Shame and Survival”

Author: Monica Lewinsky | From: Vanity Fair
Bullying often occurs in a bubble, like a middle school or a social media site, but for Monica Lewinsky, the harassment played out on a much larger scale. In 1998, the 24-year old became the center of a presidential scandal. There were countless jokes made at her expense. Even while Bill Clinton emerged relatively unscathed, the shame followed Lewinsky for years. In this feature from 2014, she recounts her experience with public humiliation, how difficult it was to move on, and the concern she feels for young people today as cyberbullying becomes so prevalent. The essay is a great example of the long-term impact of humiliation on a national scale. Monica Lewinsky is a TV personality, former fashion designer, speaker, and social activist.

“Bullying In the Age of Trump”

By: Emily Bazelon | From: The New York Times
Published in November 2016, this op-ed takes a brief look at how bullying evolved with the election of Donald Trump. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks harassment and hate speech. Since President Trump’s election, they’ve reported a surge in bullying incidents. What this teaches us is that while bullying is always around, it can increase based on what’s going on in the culture. When someone who exhibits classic bullying behavior is put in a position of power, it sends the message that their behavior is acceptable. Emily Bazelon is the author of “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy” and a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine.

“Bullying has an impact that lasts years” 

By: Anita Sethi | From: The Guardian
Written in recognition of Anti-Bullying Week, this piece describes the author’s personal experience with bullying and its lasting effects. As a child, Sethi experienced physical and emotional bullying. How bullies use language can be the most hurtful. The first thing they often do is take a victim’s name, so dehumanizing them is easier. Years after the bullying, a person’s mental health can suffer lasting consequences. What can be done? Teaching empathy is key. Anita Sethi is a writer, journalist, and contributor to Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self.

About the author

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Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.