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Valerie Lampert:  "Bullies in school:  This behavior is no joke" 

BULLYING IS a major problem in today’s world. It affects about one in five students and has been on the rise since 2001. But what exactly is bullying, and how can it be stopped?

 The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program defines bullying as “an aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.” Bullying can come in many forms, such as physical, verbal, and cyberbullying. Spreading mean rumors about others and racism can also be forms of bullying.

 One of the most common settings where bullying takes place is in schools. ABC News reported that almost 30 percent of students are either bullied or are bullies themselves. Because of this, more than 160,000 students stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being bullied.

 The scariest thing about bullying is that some bullies do not realize they are causing harm to another person. They may believe it is only a joke, that the other person is not taking anything seriously. But in reality, victims of bullying can develop depression, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.

 Some people may think that victims of bullying are oversensitive, that this is not a real problem, but they are wrong. A study done in Britain found that bullying causes at least half of the suicides among teenagers. Studies from Yale University show that people who are bullied are more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. When children are committing suicide because of bullying, there is no doubt that this is a problem.

 So, what can be done to stop it? Although people cannot necessarily control another’s actions, there are some things that can be done to decrease the amount of bullying. 

 One of the most important things that can help stop bullying in its tracks is for children to learn early on that it is not OK. Young children are influenced by their parents; if they are taught to abstain from bullying, they most likely will.

 Another way to prevent bullying is to educate students on its different forms and effects. If students who are bullies do not understand what they are doing, they will not stop. If bullies realize the effect they have on others, they may think twice before they act.

Bullying must be stopped. If people learn to accept others despite their differences, the amount of bullying that goes on could be greatly decreased. Nobody deserves to be bullied, nor should they be.

Valerie Lampert is a freshman at Stafford High School.

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