Students warned of impact of bullying

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Bullying and unwise uses of technology have long-term effects.

Even those who are bystanders to a bullying event are more likely to make risky choices.

Chanel Bingham of The Polished Canvas Ministries and Beth Pruitt of S.A.F.E. outlined the negative impacts of each during a presentation at Chilton Christian Academy on Feb. 7.

“Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of … loneliness,” Bingham said.

These students also often lose interest in activities they enjoyed and have a decrease in academic performance, including skipping or dropping out of school. Bingham emphasized that students who have been bullied are more likely to attempt suicide.

Bingham said someone who has been a bully as a young person is more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as an adult, drop out of school, get in trouble with the law and be abusive to spouses and children.

Those who have witnessed bullying are more likely to misuse tobacco or other substances and have mental health issues.

“There are two types of bystanders,” Binham said. “You get to choose the type of bystander that you are.”

A harmful bystander does nothing, while a helpful bystander steps in to help, encourage the victim to report the bullying or reports the behavior to an authority who can step in and act.

“Research has found that bullying desires an audience,” Bingham said.

Helpful bystanders can bring an end to bullying, Bingham said.

Bingham emphasized the importance of reporting physical abuse to the police.

Bingham talked about the power of words as outlined in the Bible in Prov. 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Bingham asked students if they wanted to be a hero or a villain with their words.

“The definition of bullying is unwanted or aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance,” Bingham said. “The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.”

A power imbalance could be based on size or physical strength, but it can also be based on social or economic status, skill, background or race.

She said those who are bullied and those who are bullies “have lasting effects into adulthood.”

Bullying can be physical, verbal or via text and imagines on social media.

“Verbal bullying is never harmless,” Bingham said.

Cyber bullying, bullying via social media or text messages, is increasing, according to Bingham. She said the information is never totally deleted.

“Law enforcement has all kinds of resources that can pinpoint the url and the computer the bullying came from, what was said, when it was said,” Bingham said.

Law enforcement can also access Snapchat images.

She said this includes spreading vicious rumors about someone, making fun of someone online or trying to exclude them.

“You will be found out, you are not hidden,” Bingham said.

Pruitt emphasized that anything sent to someone else can be copied and shared beyond where the original sender has control over.

Girls are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying as well as more likely to bully someone online.

Pruitt said revenge porn, posting a nude photo of someone in order to make fun of them and embarrass them, has become a form of bullying and is a misdemeanor in the State of Alabama and is a felony on the second offense.

However, she empathized that texting someone a nude picture of someone under 18, even if it is of yourself, is prosecuted as child pornography and is a Class B Felony. Pruitt said simply having a nude picture of someone under 18 is possession of child pornography and could require the person to register as a sex offender.