Bullying is in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. Being bullied can be a searing, scarring experience, and in some ways, it might be a bigger problem than it ever was.
In adulthood, we often push aside the memories of being bullied, try to forget it ever happened. But for those who've gone through it — and there are many — the dread, shame and even panic at being the butt of childhood bullying can last a lifetime.
We live in an age when consciousness has been raised about the humiliation one youngster can inflict on another. We'd like to believe the "tut-tut" response to bullying is no longer acceptable and that our enhanced sensitivity is diminishing the cruelty.
But bullying is still with us and, with the prevalence of social media like Facebook and Twitter, it may be more insidious than ever.
The Aug. 27 shooting at Perry Hall High School, in neighboring Baltimore County, in which the alleged shooter, a 15-year-old student, was reportedly the victim of bullying, has put this issue back in the spotlight. Similarly, bullying got a lot of local attention after the April suicide of a 15-year-old Glenelg High School student, who took her life after months of cyber-bullying.
Everyone agrees something should be done about bullying. But what? Ravens running back Ray Rice, who as part of his anti-bullying crusade made two very public appearances in Howard County after the April suicide, offers some forthright advice on his Facebook page.
"Sit with someone that is alone at a lunch table, befriend the new kid in class, lend a helping hand, make it a point to be kind, and if you see something that is not quite right, say something!"
In short, pay attention. Keep eyes open in classes, in cafeterias, on school buses and on social networks on the Web.
On his Facebook page, Rice posted an item that asked, "Bullying or not, how does nobody notice that something is going wrong in the kid's life? How do people stand by and do nothing?"
Good questions. Let's not forget them.
Those with more questions about how to combat bullying should be aware that a much-praised documentary film on the subject, "Bully," is coming to the AMC Theatre at the Columbia mall. The 2011 film depicts, in compelling fashion, the lives of five American high school students who were victims of bullying, including two who committed suicide.
"Bully" will be shown at the mall Sept. 29 and Oct. 6, and tickets are on sale at reduced prices. It promises to be an evening well spent for anyone who cares about this problem.