Don’t wait till it’s too late, stop bullying before it starts

Laura Preby, Photography Editor

Bullying can happen to anyone.  We, as a society, tend to accept that bullies are part of our adolescent life.  How many cliché 80’s movies have you seen where the A.V. geek gets shoved in his locker or beat up under the bleachers?  Where a teenage girl is deemed “uncool” because of her thick glasses, knee-high socks, and acne?
The media tends to portray bullies as a necessary evil in the halls of high schools everywhere, teaching students to deal with confrontation and become stronger individuals. But unlike the resolution at the end of a Brat Pack movie, a bully does not always get what he or she deserves, and there is not always a happy ending.
When I attended Pittston Area High School, bullying hardly seemed like an issue.  I never had to deal with any threats or insults, other than a few nasty comments from girls that probably envied my tight-knit group of friends who always had my back and my ability to always look on the bright side of things.
I also never felt so hopeless and depressed with my life that I thought I needed to end it.  I always had a 24-hour support system in my family and friends.
When I found out about the recent string of suicides in my valley, I spent my nights creeping Facebook and reading articles in the Times Leader and Citizen’s Voice to figure out what caused these four students to do what they did.  I was most disturbed by the two suicides at my high school; a place I always associated with innocence and happiness now had a morbid aura about it.
Articles scattered the Internet – “4 teens commit suicide in 1 week in Pa. County”- and Facebook was riddled with comments and statuses about the recent events.
I learned through the local papers that authorities could not specifically tie any of the suicides to bullying, but it was certainly alluded to.  A vigil was held in honor of the deceased, and Pittston Area held a public meeting about suicide.
Hundreds, no, thousands of statuses were posted on Facebook and other social media websites by students from my alma mater. Many of them were sending sympathetic messages to the families and friends of the poor victims.  Most attributed one student’s death in particular to bullying.
Some, however, posted personal testimonies of being bullied themselves, and the graphic and inappropriate nature of their posts appalled not only myself but other students as well.
Things like, “Anyone who posted a status about suicide is a poser.  You never cared about them before tonight” and “I was bullied and no one ever helped me” caused controversial conversation on the web that night, but their words made me think – why doesn’t anyone care about these poor students until it’s too late?
It seems a little cliché for me to say that students should become more educated about bullying and the harm it could cause, and so far, I don’t believe that method has done any good.  There needs to be more severe punishment for bullying, and teachers as well need to take action when they see a student in need.
I can’t provide a solution for teenage suicide, nor do I believe that we will all someday hold hands, embrace our differences, and never suffer from bullying again.
I do hope that the recent tragedies in my little valley will open the eyes of all students and teach them to treat each other with love and respect.
The candlelight vigil at Pittston Area ended by playing the Green Day song “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Luckily, September has ended, and hopefully we could all move forward with a better outlook on how to treat others.