Give me your lunch money: Bullying at Portage Northern

The NL’s editor-in-chief defines bullying here at Portage Northern

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Dianne Ro, Editor-in-Chief

Bullying doesn’t seem to exist at Northern; there are no offensive linemen in varsity jackets pulling at the underwear of freshmen in deserted hallways, nor are there gum-chewing cheerleaders smothered in lip gloss tripping unfortunate dorks. The bathrooms aren’t filled with the cries of swirly-victims, and jocks don’t gang up on pre-pubescent mathematics-fascinated nerds. “Bullying” now, more often than not, is used in mockery among friends– “Teacher, he’s bullying me!”– rather than in the sense of what it actually means: persecuting, tyrannizing, and using superior strength to intimidate someone, among many other awful definitions. Although the “bully,” on a one-dimensional level, remains only within angry mothers’ testimonies and rated documentaries, bullying happens at Northern, just as horrible and overt as a wet-willy.

I’ve witnessed it myself within my senior year, while my classmates and I, breaching on adulthood, are supposed to be accustomed to scoffing at the irrelevance and immaturity of “bullying.” But I have seen the jock, for the purpose of preserving the test curve and his own grade, taunt the nerd for studying for a midterm. The bullies of 2013 don’t taunt with clever, shouted nicknames, but with not-so-hidden Snapchat pictures of “weird kids” to laugh at. They discuss social media mishaps of fellow students in an open round of grating criticism, and they pointedly and expressly judge peers on socioeconomic status and athletic ability. And while bullies may not hyperconsciously want to brutally damage a peer’s self-image through seemingly covert methods, treating people like they’re not people, but subjects of derisive humor, is bullying.

Students, teachers, and administrators should not ignore student-to-student aggression, no matter if “micro-” is slapped in front of it. We may not have brute, wedgie-pulling bullies, but we have bullies all the same that terrorize, tease, and intimidate students. Whether it’s intended as a joke for in-class laughs or maliciously broadcasted to all 400 Twitter followers, our modern day bullying and our ignorance towards it backtracks all of the 90’s anti-bullying videos we watched in middle school. Though our bully isn’t an archetypical violent brute force, he still exists and is as damaging as the Goliath threatening for lunch money.