Person with paper taped to their back that says "kick me" in large lettering. Other writing on the paper says thin, stupid, liar, fat, fake, worthless, ugly, go to hell

More Kennedy Students Get Real About Bullying

Person with paper taped to their back that says "kick me" in large lettering. Other writing on the paper says thin, stupid, liar, fat, fake, worthless, ugly, go to hell
(Photo by Ilayza on Unsplash)

Commentary, Various Authors

Editor’s Note: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. And the first Thursday of every November since 2020 has been the International Day Against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying, which is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization holiday. So we went to a group of Kennedy High students to get their take. We asked them about the worst thing they’ve been called by a fellow student and bullying they’ve witnessed in person and online. We also asked them how they think a person should deal with a bully and how schools can help prevent or stop bullying. As they show, bullying goes beyond schoolyard taunts, with insults targeting race, ethnicity or sexualty. Their responses have been lightly edited. This is Part Two. Read Part One here.

I was called a boy, which wasn’t funny at the time, but now, I find it hilarious. It made me act more girly because I was a little tomboy back in them days, so people used to make fun of me. I would have too.

The best way to deal with a bully is fighting because they will never learn until y’all fight. Also, you could ignore them or report them.

I witness more bullying online because people always speak hurtfully to people because of differences and because they don’t understand some things people do. Also, some people like talking about other people to boost their confidence.

There really isn’t a way (to stop bullying) except having a really bad punishment.

— Ja’Tasiah Cook, 17

I have been called a few things, like the slur “beaner” and many other cuss words. Although these words were made to insult and hurt people like me, almost none of us care. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. We’ve become desensitized and numb to names and slurs and even use them as a joke or what we call our friends.

Some say it’s best to ignore them, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Online, you could, but if you see that person every day, and they’re just unavoidable, something has to be done. I don’t mean violence — that usually isn’t needed — but if the situation calls for it, then so be it. But if violence is avoidable, then take the chance, talk to them. Maybe get a group of friends to help, and if they are a reasonable and regular person, they’ll probably learn to back off eventually.

People barely get bullied in person anymore, but you’ll see people get bullied online more often. You can be bullied online in a few ways like on social media or in video games like “Call of Duty.” On social media, it’s most likely you’ll be bullied or harassed by the same people, while on games like “COD,” you’ll encounter various people who can say pretty much anything. Even on team-based games like battle royales, your teammates can be toxic. People bully online because they can hide behind a screen where they can harass and insult people without being known or caught.

There isn’t much the school can do for online bullying, and the decrease in in-person bullying makes it slightly unnecessary, but the school can still help the few who are affected by it. Perhaps more staff patrolling the hallway, or teachers can simply look for signs in their classrooms. Or teachers can probably make students more aware about online bullying and how they can deal with it.

— Juan Cabrera, 17

>>>Read: The Internet Brings Out the Worst in Us

The worst thing I’ve been called in school was the f-slur by someone who’s left the school. I was more annoyed than sad or upset. I didn’t care for his opinion. He was simply annoying, and I forgot about it until now. I’m not sure if forgetting about it so quickly is good since I suppose it’s rather normalized, but I couldn’t have cared less about him and, therefore, it didn’t leave a mark. He commonly used negative terms like that anyway, always saying them to his friends and insisting that whatever they do would be gay and saying it rather loudly.

Of course, people would casually say to approach it (bullying) calmly, but that can’t be applied to all cases.

(I see) more online than I ever will in person. I’m lucky to have never been picked on as I grew up even though I knew I was a weird kid. People didn’t bully me, and I’m happy they didn’t, but that didn’t stop people from trying to mess with me online, especially during times like online school. None of my friends really got bullied, but some students did. They would get posted to people’s stories, and (people would) talk s— about them privately, though usually, the people would easily be able to find out about it.

It depends on the people and the situation. Some situations are rather childish, but others can become quite serious. In that case, it would be acceptable to talk to an adult about it. I wouldn’t say it’s easy to find an adult you can trust here, but anyone you consider close is a decent option.

I’m no expert, and I know I will never be, and, therefore, I have no answer. Schools are all different, but when it comes to Kennedy, everything becomes dire. People have been physically harmed, and the school has no idea what they are doing when students have been beaten, harassed, stabbed and ganged up on. Schools have offered us no protection. So I don’t think school can help. I think school has been silently endorsing it. It takes barely any action towards any of these issues. This school has failed us in preventing violence and bullying, and it will continue to fail us until we eventually graduate.

— Willow Martinez Gomez, 16

>>>Read: Online Hate ‘Bleeds Into Real Life,’ Promotes School Bullying

The worst thing I have been called in school was the n-word. At first, I felt like I was discriminated (against) and that I was nothing to the world but a racial slur. But I got used to it, and every time I hear someone say it, I do not really take it as offensive anymore. Now, I more or less ignore it and brush it off.

The best way to deal with a bully is to tell your teacher, principal or counselor. It is the more reasonable option than physically fighting because physically fighting never solves problems. It only makes them worse. You should tell your teacher or counselor that you are being bullied emotionally or physically, and they will deal with it.

I have witnessed bullying on campus that does eventually turn into physically fighting. Then, the staff have to be forced to step in and stop it before it gets worse. While playing Fortnite on my Nintendo Switch, I have joined groups where they sometimes threaten to find out where they live and hurt them really bad.

Schools have somewhat slowed down bullying by having people talk it out (or) just walk away and (not) talk to each other anymore. If (it) gets worse, the school will be forced to have the individual who is bullying suspended or expelled. Some schools have security who can make sure that whoever is getting bullied gets protection, and a teacher can call the individual’s parents to notify them of what they have been doing, so yes, I do think school is doing something to stop bullying.

— Zeiomarion Bryant, 17

>>>Read: RHS Student Wants to Take the N-Word ‘Out of People’s Vocabulary’

I was bullied in middle school by my friends. They called me names, repeatedly talked about me and would even make me cry during school hours. Not only that, but I was made fun of for having crooked teeth and my hair. It affected me mentally, and every day was hard for me to go to school and see them. I didn’t deserve that at just 10 years old. Since then, I forgave and forgot, and now, I’m best friends with them.

There’s no best way to deal with bullying. It sucks so much, and every day, it was hard for me. But maybe avoid (your bullies), and try to make friends with others. There’s no answer to it. The best thing you could do is ignore, but then again, it’s hard.

I don’t experience bullying in person as much, just jokes. Bullying online is way worse. I see a lot. The comments are just insane and even shock me.

Schools should speak up when students are being mean — teachers, staff, etc. More people speaking up about bullying as well (would) make consequences.

— Sonia Escobar, 16

The worst thing I was called was the n-word in elementary school. At the time, I didn’t really know what the word meant, though I sort of knew at the same time. I had been used to being bullied, so it didn’t bother me, but what had was my teacher when I told her. I said so-and-so called me the n-word, and she said, “You probably heard him wrong.” That experience (made) me resent a lot of teachers because now I only see them as lazy people who never care for their students and just want to teach and leave. I’ve also heard stories from others where the bully was right in front of the teacher’s face, but they never did anything about it, which solidified my conclusion.

I think you should tell either a staff member or a trusted adult, so they can tell a staff member. Though, it might not work. I told lots of people. In a case like that, you can always switch schools if you feel it’s better for you.

I haven’t gotten bullied since elementary, but it all was in person. I’ve never been bullied online. This isn’t really bullying, but one time, I was about to cross the street when some kid on a bike yelled, “Watch out. She got a bomb.” What’s more crazy is the fact he had his, what I’m assuming is a friend, with him who was Black. I apologize for not writing more, but this topic makes me quite upset, so I’d prefer to talk about it as little as possible, considering it was a very dark time in my life.

They should have monthly one-on-one check-ups with kids, asking them how school’s been and if they’ve seen/experienced any bullying. If they have, I believe the bully should be expelled and never be allowed to come back. I think staff members should also be more vigilant and really pay attention to students and see what’s going on.

Fatima Aloidi, 16 

>>>Q&A: RHS Student Says Things Are ‘a Little Bit Better’ After Protest Against N-Word

I think the worst thing I’ve been called in school is stupid. I don’t care too much because it doesn’t matter what people call you. They’re trying to provoke a response from you to maybe try and start a fight or argument. They could just be angry and have run out of things to say, so they just insult you. At the end of the day, why should you care about something someone says just because they don’t like you?

The best way to deal with a bully is to (go to) someone, so they can help resolve it. If it comes to it, you can confront them directly on why they do it. You can also just slowly start to ignore them and hope they will eventually back off. You can also distance yourself from them and try to stay in an area where they can’t bully you. Most of the time the best way to resolve something is to talk it out with the other person if they are willing to listen.

Schools can prevent bullying by being able to determine who’s doing the bullying and to single them out. Schools can’t solve it by simply just giving them detention or expelling them because that can make it worse, and they won’t learn to get over it. If they can talk to these students, they can try to prevent more bullying and also make them stop. But they can’t take things to the extreme. Otherwise it may just create more bullies because one of them is gone.

— Geovanni Dominguez, 16

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

1 Comment
  • Anonymous
    Posted at 09:54h, 04 November

    What a sad subject! These young people feel like they have no one to turn to and that may be true. If bullying is done on campus, it is the responsibility of the school to find ways to acknowledge it and try to minimize it. Students should feel that they can and should report it to school staff (a bully detective, perhaps) who should, now that he/she is notified, observe, record, intervene and report. When the bullying is confirmed, the parents of the bully must be notified and agree to the bully being counseled by the school counselor and enrolled in some sort of workshop. Should this happen again, parents are notified and the bully is suspended. At the third occurence (always observed and documented by the “school detective”) the bully is expelled. No recourse. There must be consequences to such behavior. However, this does not address the bullying outside campus…and the fact that many bullies are “born” at home.

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