The Bully-in-Chief of the United States

Author: Elizabeth Zarb, Current Events/Politics

If you are a living, breathing human, then you have experienced bullying. Whether you’ve witnessed it, been a victim, been a bully, or simply seen it on television, you know what bullying is.

The typical bully archetype is usually that of someone who is physically imposing, verbally and/or physically aggressive, and in some way has more power over their victim. A great example of this is season-one era Harold from Hey Arnold, or any other antagonist from a Saturday morning Nickelodeon cartoon.

If we take these three qualities into account and apply them to Donald Trump, he fits every category. Physically imposing? Well, he’s over six feet tall and carries himself even taller, which can be intimidating to people shorter than that. Verbally/physically aggressive? His derogatory language toward women and people of color is evidence enough for this. More power over their victim? He’s the freaking president of the United States. That’s quite a lot of power.

Now, I’m not here just to tell you that Trump is a bully and then go on my merry way. That would be way too easy. Let’s instead discuss what happens when a bully runs a nation.

Contrary to popular belief, children watch the news. They may not fully understand what’s happening, but they hear everything. Also, a child’s mind is still being shaped and can be easily swayed by things heard out of the president’s mouth. So, when Trump makes accusations that Mexican people are “drug dealers and rapists,” a child may genuinely believe that.

When this hypothetical child now goes to school and encounters a Hispanic classmate, they have all these opinions infiltrating their brain and may possibly repeat Trump’s rhetoric. This has already been the case in Louisville, Kentucky, where a boy chased a Latina girl around shouting “Build the wall!”

Bullying begets bullying, and when the source of harmful language and bullying comes from someone with the amount of authority that Trump has, it spreads throughout an entire country. It gets absorbed into the minds of every child who hears it, and it can be repeated without them knowing what the harmful words mean.

So, how do we fix this?

Censorship is not the answer. Children deserve to know what is happening in this world. However, parents and teachers have a platform by which they can educate the children around them. When Trump says something offensive or inappropriate, it is crucial that it is explained to children that it is behavior that is unacceptable to imitate.

Additionally, schools in general need to have a stricter “no bullying” policy. I can personally attest to this as at my school we were told that bullying would not be tolerated, and yet teachers would still overhear students saying the most horrendous things to each other and did absolutely nothing about it. This then creates a culture in which students then believe they could get away with anything, and that’s exactly what happened — both in schools and in this country.

Fundamentally, it comes down to compassion. Children are the ones most capable of compassion if cultivated properly. Teaching compassion creates a whole new generation that are capable of ignoring such harmful rhetoric and accepting each other for who they are.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

13 Reasons Why is Making Schools Notice

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Entertainment

13 Reasons Why is sweeping the nation, in more ways than one.

The Netflix series, based on a young adult novel is causing millennials to really think about their high school experiences — and is also causing current high school students and their teachers and parents to raise alarms.

Now, why is it raising alarms? Because it’s a graphic tale of suicide. Hannah Baker, a high school junior, has committed suicide. However, before doing so, she recorded 13 cassette tapes, one for each person who contributed to her decision of ending her life. By the end of the series (and the novel) we’ve heard each backstory, and untangled a web of lies, secrets and tragedy.

The plot is eye opening. The show is raising metaphorical red flags in schools across the country as well as the following questions.

Does bullying — whether physical or non-physical, how overt or covert, taking place IRL on online — affect the mental health of teenagers to that degree?
Based on my own high school experience, I can offer firsthand testimony that it does. As I truly didn’t fit any type of mold in the social landscape of my very small high school, I became a target for hallway taunts and passive-aggressive stares. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re a teenager who is fearful to walk through the front door of your school (a place where you are ultimately supposed to feel safe), dealing with those feelings on the daily takes its toll.

What do schools have to say?
Schools across the country are sending home notices about the show, are discussing action plans in conferences among educators and administrators, and are intent on making sure that parents are “aware” of the series.

Are schools trying to cover up what goes behind closed doors?
What is the motive from the perspective of the schools? Are they genuinely concerned about the welfare of their students as the show “romanticizes suicide” or could potentially promote “copycat suicides?” Or is the motive something else altogether… perhaps guilt that anti-bullying programs in schools in our country are — to put it nicely — not what they should be? They sure weren’t ten years ago when I was in high school. And based on the show alone (the writers had to base their ideas and interactions between students off something, after all), it doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better.

Without getting into too many more plot details, it can be perceived that the fictional school’s guidance counselor turned a blind eye to Hannah’s situation. Good to know that that aspect of school administration also hasn’t gotten better since my mother visited my high school principal and he informed her that I was “happy” in the hallways. And while this report from the Huffington Post is from 2012, it seems my situation was not unique.

What do high school students have to say?
“I think that it’s incredibly important for a TV show to accurately portray when someone feels so hopeless to the point that suicide is their only option,” said high school senior Elizabeth Zarb. “Many teenagers suffer from mental illness that is often stigmatized or goes unnoticed, and hopefully this will encourage schools to stop the stigma and take mental health as seriously as physical health. The show isn’t without its flaws, but it gets the ball rolling because of how it resonated with teenagers and adults alike. It’s important for schools to be able to know the signs BEFORE a situation like Hannah’s happens, as that was an underlying theme in the show.”

What can we all learn from Hannah Baker?
We can understand that mental illness is real and should not ever be banned from conversation. We can continue to work toward a greater culture of acceptance. We can hope that our awareness will keep the conversation alive in schools and we can witness an influx of better anti-bullying policies. We can remember — even as 20 and 30-somethings in adult lives — that bullying is verbal, too. We can all actively work to be there for one another, and put some good back in the world.


Remember you are never alone. Need to talk? The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.