Elizabeth "Izzie" Olson

Elizabeth “Izzie” Olson is a student, poet, singer, writer, future nurse practitioner and a monthly contributor to the Student Success blog.

Izzie Olson takes the topic of bullying from the abstract to the concrete in her monthly column for the Student Success Blog.

I recently had the opportunity to interview three of my fellow students who attend Greenway High. Their names are Bailey Lyback, Bethany Lopp, and Taylor Lopp-Gibson, and each of these students has something in common – they have all experienced bullying at some point in their lives.

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, which was established by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and has been observed since 2006.

Bullying is a word we all know, but do we know what it truly means? A person intentionally trying to harm another human being in any sense, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional is defined as being a bully.

Bailey Lyback is a 16-year old junior, who also attends the Area Learning Program. Bailey reports that he has been bullied since 5th grade. Most has been verbal harassment, but other instances have included physical violence. The threat of equal or greater torment makes it hard to stop the bullying. Over time, bullying has toned down for Bailey, but it is still there. He feels as though bullying can affect a student’s success. “When kids are bullied, that’s all they think about, and all they do is worry about the next time it will happen.” Bailey feels that overcoming bullying can be seen as successful, but the anxiety never goes away. Bailey has been fortunate enough to have supportive friends who are there for him, and speak out on his behalf.

Bethany Lopp is a 15-year old sophomore who has been bullied since Kindergarten, and unfortunately is still bullied to this day. Granted, it is not as bad as when she was younger, but it is still there. Bethany has persevered and sees this as success, but it has been a long and difficult process. “It doesn’t matter what they say to me, or about me, because at the end of the day, I know I will be OK.” She also feels that bullying does affect the success of other students, and that it lowers their self-esteem. “You feel successful when you have done something to stop the bullying, because you know that you are the better person.”

Taylor Lopp-Gibson is Bethany’s older sister. She is a junior this year, and at 16 and traces her experience with bullying all the way back to preschool. Taylor feels that over time, the bullying has gotten worse. Currently, she is trying to put a stop this degrading experience, because it would be a great triumph for her. “I do believe that stopping the bullying is a type of success. You are learning to cope with serious situations, and are a better person than you were before.”

Mrs. Shelly Flaten, a long term teacher and current ALP teacher at Marble, has witnessed bullying behaviors all too often. “When children are bullied, their sense of self becomes damaged,” states Mrs. Shelly Flaten, “When a person continually hears negative comments, and internalizes them as the truth, they soon start to question their own worth. It is important to have tools to deal with this and adults can provide that support if aware of the situation. That is key: don’t ignore what is happening.” Mrs. Flaten stresses that taking an active role to stop the behaviors that are hurting our children is necessary to foster confident, caring and happy individuals. Being that kind presence can make a difference.

I believe that bullying can, and does, effect student success. Those who stand and watch are tolerating these actions, and therefor affecting their own goals. The victims may not believe that they have the ability to overcome the strife and anxiety, but they do have the power and strength if given the tools to handle these difficult situations. When brave individuals speak out or stand up for themselves, it can mean success for everyone.

One kind word can change a person’s life, so what will you do to stop this phenomenon? Your success, and success of others, depends on it. For more information about bullying and tools to combat it, visit Pacer’s website.