Bullying, Silence, and a Culture of Protection

Last night, the teen brought to my attention a horrible social media account designed for bullying. It was an Instagram page titled [School Name] Sluts which featured edited pics of students with rude messages, rumors, and a price tag. It was just awful. So I did what I do.

I reported it for bullying, then tweeted the link so others could do the same. And I was chastised by a school employee for “publicizing the link” because adults sharing the photos would “harm the victims.” Um, no. It publicly says “This is not okay” and shows the victims that there are adults who will stand up to bullies, support the victims and act on their behalf.

I was told school administrators had been working on it all day. Yet, we got it shut down in under an hour. By making noise and taking action, rather than whispering about it behind closed doors. Keeping it hush-hush only serves to make victims feel ignored and ashamed and afraid to come forward.

I know because my daughter was on that page — and she doesn’t even go there. My daughter was tormented relentlessly for 6 months before we finally figured out what she wouldn’t tell us. Now that we’ve pulled her from that toxic environment, she has felt safe enough to tell us everything else. She feels safe enough to stand up for others.

There is a huge bullying problem at the school that no one talks about. Sadly, it seems to be a nationwide epidemic. But I know these kids. It isn’t just a story in the media anymore. I know their stories. I know their backgrounds. I know their struggles with depression and eating disorders and self-harm. I know how very dangerous the bullying can be.

But keeping it quiet doesn’t protect the victims; it protects the bullies. It says “It’s okay, we won’t tell anyone what you did.” It says “Don’t worry. No one will know the horrible things you said.” It tolerates this kind of behavior and creates a culture of secrecy that allows the bullying to escalate.

Silence shows that you’re more interested in protecting the schools reputation than protecting the victims nWe have to call out the bullies. We have to draw attention to the poor behavior. We have to shine a light on what’s happening to our children. Otherwise, it’s the victims we leave in the dark, feeling alone and ashamed and unsupported.

And that is not okay.

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Article by justheather

Heather Sokol is the married mother of many amazing, active children through birth, adoption, and foster care. They have created in her a Sports Mom, Scout Mom, Band Mom, Dance Mom, Allergy Mom & avid coupon clipper. Is that miscellaneous enough for you? She shares her deals & tips at Inexpensively.com and reports progress on learning to be a grownup at JustHeather.com. justheather tagged this post with: , , Read 94 articles by
9 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Crystal says:

    How awful. So sorry your girl had to go through this.

    You absolutely did the right thing. Kids need to learn to be accountable for their actions. Being a bully has consequences. Schools need to stop worrying about their reputation and start worrying about their students.

  2. Wendy says:

    Heather- I get it. I do. My daughter’s site is LoserGurl.com. she nearly killed herself from online bullying.
    We need to TALK ABOUT IT AND MAKE SURE that others know what is going on. Sweeping it under the rug wont. I am proud of you

  3. Corrin says:

    Parents/adult/administration need to lead by example by talking about this issue and making it known that it is not okay. What you did was exactly what needed to be done.

  4. Sara C says:

    Good for you for sticking up for your daughter and for other families, Heather. You did the right thing. I heard on Dr. Phil yesterday that California is starting to monitor social media pages of their students – it’s controversial because of privacy issues, but every time I say to myself I’m thankful that social media wasn’t around when I was in school, I instead change my thoughts and try to think about students who are dealing with these issues now.

  5. Amy M says:

    One of my daughter’s friends posted the name of the Instagram account and my reaction was “why would you post the name of the page; it will just send people to that page to gawk.” His response was the same as yours — get people to go there so the page could be reported. I understand that thinking.

    But I think it’s important to note that the school administrator who thought sharing the page was a bad idea is also first and foremost a MOM of a student who was maliciously and erroneously identified on the page as the owner of the page. If my child’s name was plastered on offensive material, I would want as few people to see it as possible before it could be taken down.

    As a parent of a student at the school, I will be watching carefully to see what happens from here.

    • justheather says:

      But my child’s FACE was plasterered on that horrible page, and I will still shout from the rooftops that this is not okay. Sweeping it under the rug won’t make changes. Only shedding light on what is happening and making it clear that it won’t be tolerated can do that.

  6. It kills me that this is what kids are going through today- and parents need to figure out the best way to call it out (each situation-I think there are different approaches for different circumstances), stop the bullying and make sure the victims know that they are in fact victims and not at fault.

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